What is a 3D Pen?

If you’re new to 3D pens, this is a great place to start. In the pages that follow we have put together a quick intro to the what, why and how of 3D pens.

3D Pen 101

A 3D pen is a pen that extrudes heated or warm plastic from the pen’s nozzle. You don’t need any software. There are no files to transfer, and no difficult tech to master. In the words of a teacher we work with, “whatever you imagine, you can draw. It goes from your brain, to your hand, right there.”

Surreal? Modern day sorcery? A hybrid of Harry Potter meets Harold and the Purple Crayon? It can seem that way at first, but believe us and our 2 million+ users, it’s real, it’s creative, and it’s a lot of fun.

With a 3D pen you can draw a raised graphic on a piece of paper or any flat surface. But what makes a 3D pen truly unique is its ability to “draw” in mid-air, allowing you to instantly form 3D structures right in front of you, which you can pick up and hold in your hand.

How Do 3D Pens Work

Most 3D pens work by feeding plastic through the pen, which then melts it before it comes out of a nozzle at the end of the pen (that’s what we call “extrusion”). The pen heats up to a different temperature depending on the material you put inside the pen.

So how on earth can I then draw in 3D? When it leaves the pen, the melted plastic is soft and malleable, but within a few seconds it solidifies, creating a solid, stable, pick-up-able structure.

Materials to choose from


Best for drawing in the air and first-time Doodlers.


Our most popular and versatile plastic. Best for Doodling directly on surfaces.


A rubberized plastic that stays flexible long after it dries.


Made with real wood fiber, can be sanded once dry.


Made from real bronze and copper, it creates sturdy and heavier structures that can be polished for more shine.


Has a fabric-like feel, and can be dyed into different colors with fabric dyes.

Who Would Use A 3D Pen?

Our community is very varied and there’s no one size fits all, but we see 3D pens mainly being used by artists, makers, designers (fashion and home), educators, engineers, DIY fixers, hobbyists, and just about anyone who wants to have some creative fun. Check out a few examples below and be sure to click their name to see more of their work.


Fashion Designers



Check out the new 3Doodler App for downloadable stencils, support, and more!
Close-up: 3D pen art cake with sticks design

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