The 3Doodler 3D printing pen was a surprise hit of 2013 -- a handheld gadget that melted ABS or PLA plastic rods into rapidly cooling goop, letting you draw 3D shapes that held their form even as you moved the pen through three-dimensional space.
Now the new, improved 3Doodler 2.0 is on show at CES and it's much slimmer -- down to the size of a whiteboard marker -- while offering the same features as the original and more. WobbleWorks, the company behind the 3Doodler, has also given the pen a rather refined looking brushed aluminum casing.
The new pen is also much lighter at 50 grams (1.8 ounces), and WobbleWorks claims it's quieter as well. Like the original, you can draw either in two dimensions like a normal pen or head upwards into the air in 3D.
I held the 3Doodler 2.0 in my hand and was impressed with how much WobbleWorks managed to slim it down. Where I felt like I was struggling to get a good grip on the first version, the sequel is easy to hold and felt very natural.
While I'm not an artist (I can barely doodle a picture), I expect my creative friends will have a blast drawing with this. It's now possible to make wallets or outfits with a more flexible plastic as well. The kind of creations you can create with the 3Doodler are less sophisticated than the finessed, angular artefacts that a fully fledged static 3D printer can churn out, but it's fun, especially for kids.
Besides being slimmer, the 3Doodler also has some new accessories, such as the JetPack, a portable battery that lets you draw in 3D on the go for 2 to 3 hours depending on the material used. It also introduces variable speed controls to alter how quickly plastic is squeezed out, as well as the power to double-click its keys to trigger a continuous flow of plasticky fluid.
If you're an owner of the first 3Doodler, there's some bad news -- the nozzle design has been reworked, so you won't be able to use your existing nozzles on the new 3Doodler. This means you will have to buy a new set, though that shouldn't set you back too much. The pedal accessory from the original 3Doodler will work though.
What is perhaps a little more surprising is that despite the original having been picked up by plenty of retailers, the 3Doodler 2.0 is returning to Kickstarter to get itself funded. Asking once more for a cool $30,000, the makers of the plastic-pushing pen claim it's community spirit that's driving them back to the crowd-funding site, saying, "It's important to us to offer our dedicated community the chance to own the brand-new device first."
To entice existing users to upgrade, the Kickstarter campaign will have an early-bird special for the first 100 sets that will go for just $50 (roughly £30 or AU$60). The normal price of the 3Doodler 2.0 will be $99, which converts to £65 or AU$115, although expect final prices to vary in the UK and Australia.