Self-styled the world’s first 3D printing pen, the 3Doodler took the world by storm when they launched their Kickstarter campaign back in February 2013. Their viral video showed artists literally drawing in thin air plastic stick men, cats, and even the Eiffel Tower, and it set people’s imaginations on fire. They went on to become one of the fastest growing Kickstarter campaigns at the time, raising over US$2 million dollars in the first 10 days of their campaign alone. Originally designed in the US, most of 3Doodler’s team is now based in Hong Kong, making it a local start-up near and dear to our hearts.
My daughter came home from art class last year raving about “this really cool 3D pen” her teacher told her about. We googled it up and after watching the video, she immediately put her long-saved allowance where her mouth was and, at 10 years old, probably became 3Doodler’s youngest backer.
You can find much more detailed product reviews out there. So I will simply say that, from a parent’s perspective, this tool is harder to use than it looks on the video, and it takes a fair amount of practice to create anything recognizable, let alone worth showing to anyone. But once you and/or your kids have gained a small amount of proficiency with it, you can make some pretty cool things! Furthermore, 3Doodler seems to be quite aware of the steep learning curve and has created a number of helpful videos and stencils to help you get started.
When I first discovered the template for the Bank of China Tower, I immediately challenged my daughter to try it out. The 2-hour exercise of constructing the tower gave her a much better understanding of its shape and architecture. This isn’t just a traditional rectangular office building – I.M. Pei’s design has some sharp angles that make for very interesting feng shui. 3Doodler doesn’t provide templates for any other Hong Kong tower, but I think my daughter may be up for 3Doodling the IFC or the HSBC building on her own for her next project.
I thought the 3Doodler would just be another craft tool. But the tangential learning opportunities are really exciting. When we are traveling or even just going around town, any activity that encourages my kids to pause and look at something thoughtfully is a win in my book.
The 3Doodler is available online. You can also find it for retail in brick and mortar stores in Hong Kong and a number of other countries.
- Age range – The 3Doodler is recommended for children ages 12 and up, with adult supervision.
- Burn alert – The tip of the 3Doodler gets hot. Think melting plastic at 460 degrees Fahrenheit hot. Children should only use this tool under close adult supervision. My daughter is hot glue gun-trained, and she still accidentally burned her finger with the 3Doodler, though it was quickly soothed by running it under cool water.
- Hong Kong retail location: Log-On
- Voltage – The 3Doodler uses a universal power supply, so you can use it on 110v or 240v as long as you have the right plug adaptor.