The best 3D pens in 2022: model and design in 3D

·10 min read
 The best 3D pens; as represented by a person using a 3D pen
The best 3D pens; as represented by a person using a 3D pen

The best 3D pens enable you to 'draw' in three dimensions using heated plastic filament, and we love them. They can be used to create impressive 3D art or models and toys; or they can be used practically to decorate your favourite things.

3D pens work in similar way to a glue gun. You press a button and they push out a type of liquid plastic, such as ABS or PLA, which quickly cools in the air and turns solid. One way of making art with them is to 'draw' a model from scratch. Another is to add decoration to an existing model, or another object. Alternatively, you could draw a series of flat shapes, then join them together to create 3D ones.

But which model should you buy? In this article, we've found you the best 3D pen for children, the best 3D pen for adults, the best 3D pen for beginners, and other great options. We start our list with the best 3D pens in the USA; otherwise, you can skip ahead to the best 3D pens in the UK.

Once you've chosen your 3D pen, get inspired by our guide to 3D art. And to go further with 3D, check out our guides to the 3D printers and the best 3D modelling software too.

The best 3D pens: available now

1. MYNT3D Pro 3D Printing Pen

Best overal 3D pen

Filaments:
ABS, PLA & more
Display: OLED
Control:
Temp, speed

+ Smooth speed changes
+ Uses many filaments
- Overkill for kids

Lightweight and ergonomic, the MYNT3D Pro is easy to hold and use. You can adjust the speed and flow of the plastic filament for finer control. You can also make fine tweaks to its temperature, in one-degree increments. And there's even a OLED display to monitor this, too. Plus it's super-flexible.

Unlike many other 3D pens, the MYNT3D Pro supports a range of filament types: not just ABS and PLA. The pen is USB powered, so you can do some 3D drawing while you're away from a wall socket. The only possible downside to this 3D pen is that it's quite expensive, and probably overkill for beginners and kids.

CB rating: 5/5 stars

2. 3Doodler Start+ Essentials

The best 3D pen for kids

Filaments:
PLA, ABS, FLEXY
Display: OLED
Controls:
Basic options

+ Designed for children
+ Ideal for STEM learning 
- Limited filaments 

The 3Doodler Start+ is designed for children of six years old and above, ensuring this wireless 3D pen has been subjected to the strictest safety testing. It features no hot parts, and the nozzle and plastic can be touched without risk of burns. Controls are kept to the minimum, too, making it very easy to use for children.

As with all 3Doodler pens, you're restricted to the manufacturer's proprietary child-friendly filament. The basic pack comes with 48 strands, in eight different colours, each of which offers 60 inches' worth of filament. While it'll last you, buying new ones means only going to 3Doodler so you're in hoc to the brand's pricing.

CB rating: 4/5 stars

3. 3Doodler Create+

Ideal for beginners

Filaments:
PLA, ABS, FLEXY
Display: n/a
Controls:
Speed / temp

+ Simple to use
+ FLEXY compatible
- Limited filaments 

Never used a 3D pen before? Then I recommend the 3Doodler Create+ as this neat gadget is easy to use but versitile enough to do most crafting. It has a beautifully ergonomic design that's easy to use, even for first-timers. More experienced hands will enjoy using this too, with dual speed and temperature controls giving you a nice degree of control.

This pen supports FLEXY plastics as well as PLA and ABS, although be aware they must be 3Doodler ones, which tend to be on the pricey side. You get 50 filaments included with this package, in a variety of colours, as well as a guidebook. 

CB rating: 4/5 stars

4. MYNT3D Super 3D Pen

A good value 3D pen

Filaments:
ABS, PLA
Display: n/a
Controls:
Speed / temp

+ Anti-clog nozzle
+ Speed slider
- Limited filaments 

Watching the pennies? Then check out the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen, which represents excellent value. It's similar to the Pro model, with the same gearbox and replaceable nozzle design but cheaper because you don't get the OLED display, or the temperature adjustment feature. Instead, a temperature screw lets you switch between the correct heat for ABS and PLA, but you're limited to those two materials.

However, it's still a great 3D pen, which is easy to use in practice. Plus you get a stylus, three colours of ABS plastic and a 100-240V AC 50/60Hz adapter in the box. So overall, this 3D pen represents excellent value.

CB rating: 4/5 stars

5. MYNT3D Basic Pen

The best cheap 3D pen

Filaments:
PLA, ABS
Display: n/a
Controls:
Basic options

+ Simple and easy
+ Clog-free in use
- Can't use ABS filament 

If you're really short on funds, you’re looking for a 3D pen that’s not only cheap to buy, but cheap to run too. And the MYNT3D Basic Pen ticks both these boxes.

Compatible with the same low-cost ABS and PLA plastics that 3D printers use,  it allows you to push out plastic at slow, medium or fast speeds. It also boasts a sealed nozzle and overbuilt gearbox for clog free use. Otherwise, this is a basic 3D pen, with no clever features. One thing to note, this 3D pen is powered via USB using a proprietary cable, so if you lose that, you’re in trouble. But the low price may make these compromises easy to accept if you're after a cheap 3D pen.

CB rating: 3/5 stars

6. MYNT3D Junior2 3D Pen for Kids

A great 3D pen for youngsters

Filaments:
PCL
Display: n/a
Controls:
Start / Stop

+ Made for kids
+ Cordless design
- Can't use ABS or PLA

Another child-friendly option, the MYNT3D Junior2 3D Pen is designed for ages six years old and above, with an easy-to-grasp design and low temperature nozzle to keep your kids safe. It’s shorter and thicker than most 3D pens, making it good for tiny hands. It works with PCL filament (which is biodegradable), and is not compatible with ABS or PLA.

This pen features the same sealed nozzle design as more advanced MYNT3D pens to stop clogs. It’s battery powered and can be charged via Micro USB. Overall, it feels a bit cheap, but does the job it’s intended for.

CB rating: 3/5 stars

The best 3D pens: frequent questions

Do 3D pens really work?

Yes, 3D pens really work, if what you want to do is create a 3D model by hand. If you want to create a 3D model based on a pre-existing design, though, you need a 3D printer.

A 3D pen uses the same type of heating element to melt filament that you get in a 3D printer. But while the latter is controlled by software, a 3D pen you control entirely yourself, much like using a glue gun, so you can get truly expressive. Once the filament leaves the filter, it cools rapidly, and hardens into whatever shape you have formed it into.

What is a 3D pen used for?

You can use a 3D pen to draw on any flat surface. But, as the name suggests, the real beauty of a 3D pen is that it allows you to draw in mid-air, using plastic filament, and create three-dimensional structures that then solidify. Alternatively, you can draw over an existing object to enhance it.

Who uses 3D pens?

Anyone can use a 3D pen, but they're commonly used by hobbyists, artists, makers, fashion designers and home furnishing designers in creative projects. They're also used by engineers and DIYers to solve practical problems, by teachers in education, and by kids for fun projects.

What 3D pen should I buy?

The best 3D pen available today is the MYNT3D 3D Pen Pro. It's light and ergonomically designed, making it easy to hold and use, whether you're a newbie or an experienced hand. An adjustable feed helps you stay in control, and you can increase the temperature in increments. It's USB powered and you can use a wide range of filaments.

What's the best 3D pen for children?

The best 3D pen for children is the 3Doodler Start+ Essentials (2021), which is suitable for kids from six and up. The controls are simple, and everything's been subjected to the strictest safety testing. There are no hot parts on the pen and its Eco-Plastic filament is non-toxic, BPA-free, and completely biodegradable in household compost. It typically takes about 45 days for the plastic to break down.

What's the best 3D pen for beginners?

In our view, the best 3D pen for beginners is the 3Doodler Create+, because it's so easy to use. Just plug in the pen, insert your plastic, wait for it to heat up, then you can doodle in three dimensions. The extruded heated plastic hardens almost instantly, so you can draw 3D structures, freehand or on stencils. This 3D pen comes with different colours of plastics, which are all safe and non-toxic, and an activity guide book to get you started.

Are 3D pens environmentally damaging?

If you want to avoid harming the environment with your 3D pen, then the plastic we recommend using is PLA, which is short for Poly Lactic Acid. A polyester derived from renewable biomass, typically from fermented plant starch such as corn, cassava, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp, this type of plastic is both biogradable and sustainable. To be specific, it typically takes around six to 12 months to break down, while for most plastics it takes hundreds of years.

The other type of plastic commonly used in 3D pens, ABS, is not so great for the environment. Short for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, ABS is petroleum-based and non-biodegradable. It's both bad for the environment and more toxic to humans than PLA.

What's the best cheap 3D pen in the US?

If you're tight on cash and in the US, you can get a very decent 3D pen for not much money, in the form of the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen. Despite being just $39.99 at time of writing, it's an excellent 3D pen, with a stepless speed slider that lets you regulate flow for optimal control of material while you're drawing. You also get a ultrasonic sealed nozzle which virtually nearly clog-proof.

What's the best cheap 3D pen in the UK?

If you're in the UK, your best bet for a cheap 3D pen right now is the Nikand 3D Pen. Suitable for both adults and kids, it costs just £39.95 at time of writing, and is a nice pen that's easy to hold and use. It also comes with an OLED screen, support for PCL and PLA plastic filaments, and the ability to control speed of filament extrusion.

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