Introduction: How to Use a 3D Pen

About: I am an application engineer for an industrial distributor. I help to support our sales team in programming of new projects for our customers. I enjoy working on hobby electronics in my free time, mostly wit…

I have been into 3D printing for a few years now. Making them, modifying them, using them and whatever comes in between. I have been seeing 3D pens in the market more and more and always thought that they were sort of silly little things. Well, I finally have one and guess what...they are silly but also pretty fun to mess around with. No need to use software to 3D model something, no need to use a slicing engine/gcode generator and most of all, no need for a 3D printer! Sure, you can't make objects as well as a printer, but it's still fun.

Step 1: My 3D Pen, What's Included

In this Instructable I am going to show you how to use my 3D pen, provided by and can be found here. This is a very inexpensive version of a 3D pen. For less than $50 US, you can have your own 3D capabilities. My pen came with a few items...

1. The 3D pen (obviously)

2. 3 samples of filament colors

3. Power Supply, 12VDC, 3A

4. Operation Instructions (which I obviously ignored, I'm a guy)

5. European to US AC adapter, the power supply came with those weird overseas prongs.

Step 2: Pen Operation

The pen is a little more 'complicated' than I had expected. I figured it would just have one button for go. Turns out, it has a forward and reverse button, speed control and two LED status indicators. The tip is also removable, I guess that you can buy different size tips to increase your precision! I have labeled the various bits in the pictures...

Step 3: Adding Filament

To add filament to your 3D pen, it's pretty simple but you may skip a simple step if you don't know about it!

When you plug power into your 3D pen, you will see an ORANGE power light, shown in the picture. At first I thought this meant that it was warming up and getting ready, WRONG! After you put power to the device and see the ORANGE LED, press the forward/extrude button. This will cause the status LED to also turn RED, indicating that the pen is warming up. Once the pen has warmed up, the LED will turn GREEN.

To add the filament, gently feed it into the opening at the top, you won't be able to push it very far as the motor is right at the opening. Once you have pushed the filament in a small amount and it is tough to push, simply hit the forward/extrude button and you will feel the filament start to get pulled in. Make sure that your speed control is pushed all the way towards the top where the filament and power plug are, this is full speed. If you leave it at a low speed, it could take FOREVER for the filament to reach the heated tip.

When the filament reaches the tip, you will be able to hear it in the motor, then you will start to see oozing out of the tip. You are now ready to print! I like to extrude some excess plastic at the beginning of a new color to get rid of any remaining bits of the previous color. Now you can print things and adjust the speed to perfect your masterpiece!

Step 4: Changing Filament

When you start to make things you will probably want to use different colors. To do that, you first have to remove the color that you were using previously. The steps are almost the same as putting the filament in...

1. Supply power

2. Press the forward/extrude button

3. Wait for the status light to turn green

4. Now, instead of pressing the extrude/forward button, you press the reverse button and the filament will start to pull back out of the pen.

Now you can load in a new color filament or throw your pen in a bag and take it around with you!

Step 5: Final Thoughts

Overall I thought that this was a pretty neat little toy. I would definitely not use this to replace a 3D printer but it may be useful for touch ups on 3D prints and it is of course fun to play with. When I first got it one of my buddies came over and had a blast playing with it.

This particular pen came from They've got tons of neat products and many relating to Arduino compatible devices. Feel free to check out some of that stuff here.

I hope you have enjoyed this little Instructable. I am thinking about attaching a small battery pack to this thing to make it somewhat portable. Maybe if I do that I'll throw it together in a short Instructable.

Stay tuned, I will be adding pictures of some things I make, just waiting to make something that doesn't look like a string...