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The best 3D pen for 2021

The perfect 3D pen for 2021

The 3Doodler next to plastic filaments and the Eiffel Tower model Photo: Rozette Rago

Our choice

3Doodler Create +

The Create + is easy to hold and ready for immediate use. It also benefits from 3Doodler’s excellent customer service and the option to purchase different sized tips.

Purchase options

* At the time of publication, the price was $ 80.

The 3Doodler Create + offers the best overall drawing experience for people aged 12 and over who want to work with 3D pens. Our tests drew clean lines out of plastic that set quickly, were easiest to use, and most comfortable to hold. It comes with the widest range of useful accessories. Should you ever need help, 3Doodler’s customer service team is by far the most responsive we have come across.

3D drawing projects can take a while to complete. That’s why we like that the triangular coated aluminum body of the Create + feels natural even over a long period of use. Your finger is naturally within easy reach of two buttons that you press once to start or stop extruding at slow and fast speeds, respectively – a design we found ideal for fine control while drawing. Unlike many of the earliest 3D pens, the Create + stays comfortably cool while drawing.

With Create + even, even plastic strands are output when drawing. The lines solidify quickly and persist as you draw. Most other pens grabbing filaments that are still soft and dragging them along, which will distort your drawing. We know that you don’t even have to hold down a button to extrude the plastic, all you have to do is press once, adding to the convenience of this pen for long periods of drawing. The Create + has a speed range that is somewhere in the middle of the package for the pens we tried, but both its fast and slow settings are comfortable for normal drawing. The pen is also the best among the ones we tested drawing lines directly in the air – something we haven’t done too often during normal use, but that’s a much-touted ability for 3D pens.

Loading filaments is easy with Create +. It follows the standard procedure for 3D pens, which is similar to that of a glue gun. To unload the filament, press and hold both extrusion buttons until the strand of filament is loose enough to pull out. 3Doodler recommends discharging the pen after each use to prevent plastic damage from being kept in it for a long time. With the pen you can choose between two heat settings for ABS plastic (approx. 380 degrees Fahrenheit) or PLA plastic (approx. 360 degrees). This is all you will need when using 3Doodler’s filament options (more on this below).

The 3Doodler and the finished Eiffel Tower While making an Eiffel Tower sculpture during testing, we found that the 3Doodler Create + provided the best overall drawing experience. Photo: Signe Brewster

Allegedly, one of the most common problems with 3D pens is a filament plug (caused by melted plastic hardening and sticking in the pen). 3Doodler pens are the only ones we’ve tested that come with tools for clearing clogs. However, we never got the chance to use it as the Create + pen – like all 11 pens we tested – never really clogged up for us.

The Create + is one of the only pens we tested with the option to purchase additional tip sizes (you can also buy them for the 3Doodler Create and Pro pens). One of our experts strongly recommends additional tips, as thin tips give you more control over the detail work and thick tips are better suited for filling in large areas faster. After testing the various tips, we agree. If you have more control over detailed work or want to speed up the process, the additional tips will help. There are also two ribbon-like shapes that can be useful for adding texture. You don’t need to buy these tips to have a good Create + experience, but they definitely help. A word of caution: make sure the pen is hot when changing a nib, otherwise there is a risk of permanent damage to the pen.

As part of our testing, we emailed every 3D pen company asking if it was safe to use third-party filaments. We found that 3Doodler responded in minutes – the fastest of any company we surveyed – and one of only a handful of companies that actually responded. After shipping it halfway across the country twice, the original Create pen we tested stopped working and we had the opportunity to interact with 3Doodler customer service again. As before, someone responded by email within minutes. Within 25 minutes of the initial reply, the person who helped us diagnosed an electrical problem and offered to send a replacement. All 3Doodler pens are guaranteed for one year.