In 2013, the 3Doodler surprised us with its 3D-printing capabilities. Working much like a hot glue gun, it was the world’s first 3D-printing pen and it managed to raise 2.3 million dollars on its Kickstarter campaign. But the end product was a bit under-whelming, as journalists found out that making anything even remotely beautiful was quite a task and it became clear that the 3D printing pen was the domain of experienced artists. And now in 2014 we have the LIX 3D printing pen, which claims to be the world’s smallest 3D printing pen. But is that claim enough to hide the basic limitations of a 3D printing pen?
The biggest difference between the $99 3Doodler and the $139.95 LIX 3D printing pen is of course the form of the two pens. Whereas the 3Doodler frankly looks like an ugly, oversized device, the LIX is quite sleek and has the same air of premium design as you’d expect from an Apple product. It has been made from aluminum, so there’s some justification for that high price tag. Operation wise, the LIX 3D works like a hot glue gun.
You plug it into a USB outlet, and wait for the pen to reach operating temperature (which usually takes under a minute). An LED indicator will let you know when the pen’s hot enough to start doing work. Once it’s hot enough, you can start drawing via the two buttons that control the flow of the liquid coming out of the tip of the pen. Sounds very simple but in practice 3D printing pens are notoriously difficult to handle. Don’t be inspired by all the awesome creations on the product’s website. 3D printing pens are the domain of experienced artists.
The LIX 3D printing pen is a great-looking device that will most likely produce the same end result as the 3Doodler before it. Of course, good design sells and the LIX pen will most likely win over buyers who didn’t get the 3Doodler because of its bulbous body. If you’re just a regular person who likes the design of the pen, you can order a simple ball pen version of the LIX for $59.95. That’s still not cheap but that’s what you pay for premium design and materials.