I was sent this 3D printing pen by Blusmart for free for a review.
This 3d pen comes well packaged in a very sturdy nice looking box. Inside the pen is nicely displayed and securely held in with a plastic bag for extra protection. Lifting the pen off you have all the other materials in the box, the instructions, a paper template of some shapes, two pieces to form a stand, mains supply plug and the ABS plastic used in the 3d pen. The plastic pack has three rolls of ABS, blue, black and orange. the instructions are in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and have diagrams but are a bit tough to read.
The instructions aren’t hard to read but the language used is a bit technical so it does take reading it and reading it again. However it’s very easy to use once you know how. I’ve never had a 3d pen before this which is why it took me some time to get used to using this. I started out by setting up the stand which is just slotting two pieces together. Unfortunately this is the biggest fault of the whole pack in my opinion (and the reason I give this a 4 instead of 5 stars). The stand isn’t heavy and although the pen alone won’t tip it over, when you plug the power cable into the pen, it can tip over the whole stand. I ended up not using it and just resting the pen on the worktop.
The pen has several buttons. Two around an LCD screen on the front with a further two on each side of the pen. The two buttons around the LCD screen adjust the temperature. Holding the pen with your right hand, the two buttons near the thumb are loading(also start/stop) and unloading buttons. the two on the other side adjust the speed you can ‘draw’ at. Now being left handed this pen is still comfortable to hold, but the buttons were reversed and I had to use my fore finger all the time to stop and start this pen. However as long as you are comfortable doing that this is easy to use – and for me it was actually more comfortable this way.
USING THE PEN
The pen is comfortable to hold with a slight grip material making it less likely to slip out of your hand. The first thing you do is plug the pen into the mains. The mains cable is kinked quite a lot and isn’t as long as I would like so make sure there’s lots of slack or any slight tug will knock the pen in the stand over. After you’ve plugged it in it’s immediately on. You’ll see the LCD have a red colour. The first thing you do is select which plastic you are using. ABS or PLA. The instructions say it’s PLA but the plastic’s packaging says ABS. You have to select the right one or the temperature will be wrong and this might not work properly. After that you have press the load/on(called feeding button) button to pre-heat the pen. The LCD will show you the temperature. It climbed all the way to 210 before displaying green instead of red!
WARNING – the end of the pen, not just the nib but the whole black section at the bottom is now very hot! If you’re using this with kids make sure they don’t touch this or it will hurt and potentially burn.
Once the temperature is set you can load the plastic. You stick the ABS into the top and only need to push it a small bit and press the load button again. Now the pen starts making a sound and it’s slowly pulling the plastic inside. You have to wait a bit for the pen to finally start pouring melted plastic out of the bottom but it does eventually happen. You then start drawing your 3d object.
The pre-set speed of this pen is around 5 or 6 out of 8. The first time I tried this pen I used the preset speed. The plastic poured out so fast I had no control over where it went. You can stop drawing by pressing the load button again. It acts like a start/stop button. Then you can adjust the speed from 1 to 8. I’d definitely advise the speed of 1 for beginners, and to be honest I’ll probably use 1 all the time. The flow is slow but it gives me greater control over the shape I’m making.
Now, you can continue to draw with the pen or you can at some point change colours. To do this you press the load button to make sure it’s stopped. The button next to this is the unload button. You have to press and hold it for 3 seconds, or until it starts making a sound. It takes a while and it doesn’t seem like anything’s happening at first but in reality the plastic is retracting out of the pen and cooling at the same time so you pull out a slightly weird looking tube of ABS. Inserting a new colour you go though the same loading instructions as before.
I used this pen for a while and have figured out a few tricks to make it easier to use.
-For starters the ABS came out of the nib too fast and runny for me. I used the buttons around the LCD and turned the temperature down to about 205 which then led to a more controlled and thicker paste coming out of the nib.
-The nib continues to ‘bleed’ some plastic even if you press the stop button. this bleed isn’t bad but if you are working on creating something it can spoil your work. I started to draw my shape and stopped the pen (pressing stop) before I was finished creating my shape. There’s an initial bleed and then I take the pen away from my object and rest it. There were thin streaks, like hair, of plastic going from the object to the peen but these can be cut off using scissors.
-The bleed continues but you can sort of ‘wipe’ it off on a scrap piece of paper. NEVER touch this plastic coming right out of the nib. Though it cools almost instantly the second it comes out it’s really hot – I know as I’ve touched it without thinking!
-If you don’t use the pen for a couple of minutes it goes into sleep mode. To use it again it has to reheat so you’ll have to go through the pre-heat step again.
-The instructions state the ABS should have a straight edge when putting into the pen, it’s easy to cut a straight edge using scissors, but you need a bit of force.
-Changing colours is easy but when you run the new colour you might want to let a blog of plastic paste go as the two different colours are merged together for a moment.
-When creating a shape I found it easier to control tall shapes (like the legs of my dog) by pushing the nib slightly into the paste I’d just placed. Instead of thin bits of plastic pasted loosely on top of itself, this will made a thicker more solid shape.
-It may be an obvious point but there is a strong smell of burning plastic- to be expected of course.
This pen has been so fun to use and being the arty type I’m now seeing this as a new medium to use in my art. While I’m still new at creating the shapes, it’s easy once you know how and I’m already looking to buy more colours of plastic to create bigger creations.
The little dog I made with this pen wasn’t as hard as it looks and given his length from tail to nose is around the size of a two pound coin, I didn’t use up much of the ABS at all. There’s still two-thirds to three-quarters left of the orange ABS, so plenty of fun to be had with this pen.
The only negative point is the stand not having a stronger, heavier base and the mains cable not being longer to be able to use this in different locations. But over all I am very pleased with this pen and can’t wait to create something cute for Christmas!!
HOW I MADE THE DOG
-In case anyone’s curious: I first created four upward legs on a paper (these got stuck to the paper-I had to peel them off later- so be careful what surface you do this on-but it doesn’t always work on a shiny surface, needs something to stick to). Each leg was created one at a time, stopping the pen before moving onto the next leg.
-After that I started running a line of the pen paste from one leg to another, connecting them in the air. So before long I had all for legs connected with a square on the top. This then was filled in creating a table shape.
-After having my table I kept building up the height, concentrating more paste onto the centre to make the body rounder in shape.
-A couple of times I flicked the pen out at one end of the table creating a short tail. I then stopped the pen for the next part.
-I created a lump on the non-tail end of the table, building this up to create a neck. Once the neck looked tall enough I created a wider shape making it more into a head than a neck.
-After stopping the head I made each bit of ear separately too, just a blob on either side.
-To finish I changed the ABS to black and switched it on for a second then off three time to create the eyes and nose! 🙂
(a couple of photos are a bit more orange in tint, this is the fault of my bad lighting and not the colour of the product)