Compare the 3D Pen UV Light or ABS Plastic

Which is Better? 3D UV Light or ABS Plastic

What is this world coming to? We have got by just fine with pencils and pens, and now, we have pens that will allow us to draw in 3D. Unbelievable, but true, and not too long ago, the first 3D computer printers were unveiled, so the inevitable has happened, there are now 3D pens.

In this article, we will discuss two 3D pens, the 3D pen with a UV light and a 3D pen with ABS plastic. The two pens will be described, and the differences discussed. But first, what are these 3D pens we are talking about:

Subscribe to get the latest updates


What is a 3D Pen

A generic description of a 3D pen is a pen that allows the user to draw in 3D. A 3D pen extrudes a filament allowing the user to draw in three dimensions. Think back to when as a child, we used to roll plasticine into thin strands to build three-dimensional objects, and that is what a 3D pen allows one to do. The thin filament, once extruded from the pen, hardens quickly allowing the plastic to become stable and hold its shape.

History of the 3D Pen

The 3D pen is just rolling up on its first anniversary. Developed in 2013, crowd funding allowed the inventors to bring the 3D pen to market and to see some of the drawing that can be done, there is an excellent video that can be viewed by clicking this link.

As of February 2014, just a couple months following start-up, more than 20,500 pens with 1.8 million strands of plastic, sufficient to make about 285 miles of filament for drawing had been shipped. That is a pretty good result for a small company that began with crowd funding.

UV Light 3D Pen Coming Soon

3D Pen with Ultraviolet Light

No sooner had the first 3D pen hit the market, and the competition was on for a better 3D pen. There is now a 3D pen that comes with an ultraviolet light, providing the main drying process for the plastic.

The 3D pen with an ultraviolet light, rather than using heat to melt a plastic strand, uses a liquid resin that comes encapsulated in a proprietary cartridge. As the pen is used, the liquid is extruded, passing the ultraviolet light, which reacts with the fluid, hardening it into the desired 3D strand.

Pros of the 3D Pen with the Ultraviolet Light

Using the 3D pen with the ultraviolet light eliminates the need to use heat to melt plastic strands. The pens use a liquid resin that is sensitive to the ultraviolet light, and as heat is not required, the pen can be safer for younger children to use.

The 3D pen with the Ultraviolet light produces a cleaner plastic strand. Think back to the use of a plastic glue gun and the fine filament strands that always seemed to have shown up when we did not want them. The ultraviolet process eliminates this problem.

Cons of the 3D Pen with the Ultraviolet Light

The 3D Pens with the ultraviolet light use a liquid resin that comes in a proprietary cartridge. The principal is the same as the approach taken by computer printer manufacturers that sell printers as loss leaders to get the customer hooked to have to purchase their high priced proprietary ink cartridges.

The cartridges are quite expensive, but just like the competition for the computer printer ink cartridges, there will be someone, somewhere, who will come up with a less expensive replacement. But for now, the price of the liquid resin cartridges, compared to the plastic strands, is certainly a Con for the 3D pens with the ultraviolet light.

ABS Plastic 3D Pen3D Pen with ABS Plastic

The 3D pen with ABS plastic is the original 3D pen. Think of a glue gun that holds a hard plastic tube that is melted with heat, extruded, and then hardens in the ambient air. The 3D pen works under a similar principle, albeit, it allows for a much finer plastic filament to be used for creating 3D images.

Pros for the 3D Pen with ABS Plastic

The ABS plastic is suitable for drawing on paper, such as for following plans to draw components of a 3D drawing, as the ABS does not adhere to the paper.

As well, the ABS can be used to draw 3D free form and will cool quickly to hold its form.

ABS also has some flex to it, allowing components to be bent to shape.

The filaments are not packaged in proprietary cartridges, making the drawing material less expensive than the liquid cartridges that are required for the 3D ultraviolet pens.

Cons for the 3D Pen with ABS Plastic

The ABS may feed unevenly, creating problems with obtaining a continuous filament for drawing.

The 3D pen uses heat to melt the ABS, which may create the potential for burns, as well; the pen may emit a burnt plastic odor that may not be pleasant.

Which Is Better?

The jury is still out as to which pen is better. The major drawback of the 3D pen with the ultraviolet light is the price of the replacement cartridges. For the serious artist, the price may not be an issue, but for the neophyte, the price may be something to think about.

The 3D pen with the ultraviolet light will also produce a cleaner line, but the 3D pen with the ABS is much more stable when drawing elevated free forms

The 3D pen with ABS versus the 3D pen with the ultraviolet light, the jury is still out as to which is best. The 3D pen, in general, is a new product on the market, and like just about with any product, newer and better versions are sure to follow.

Think of the first computer printers that came out. They were big and bulky, very expensive and limited in what they could do. Then ingenuity and competition took over, and we saw laser printers hit the market for business use, and shortly after that, for home use. Colour was introduced, and the price was driven down as new features were added, such as All-in-One printers that could scan, print and copy.

We will see the same progression with 3D pens. Ingenuity, customer demands and competition is certainly going to spawn innovations and versions of the 3D pen.

The jury is out on which is best, the 3D pen with ABS or the 3D pen with the ultraviolet light. Each has its better functions, with the ABS Pen clearly winning on price.

It is now your choice.