Which 3D pen filaments are best?

3D pens are great tools for people who want to fabricate their own plastic objects but lack the funds to purchase a 3D printer. Using 3D pen filaments with the right thickness and color, it’s possible to create sculptures, toys and other artistic pieces.

The Mika3D 32 Color 3D Pen PLA Filament Refills pack has a wide range of multi-colored filaments compatible with most 3D pens now on the market. Other 3D pen filament packs may have colors and materials better suited to older or specific 3D pens.

What to know before you buy a 3D pen filament

Common materials used to make 3D pen filaments

Like 3D printers, 3D pens heat up a hardened plastic until it becomes semi-liquid, then extrudes that plastic across a flat work surface. The two most common 3D pen filament substances are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polylactic acid. ABS has a high melting point, so it’s good for objects that need to endure high temperatures. PLA has a lower melting point and is made of non-toxic, biodegradable substances that don’t emit irritating fumes when heated.

Handling a 3D pen safely

When your 3D pen is plugged in and switched on, always hold the tip well away from you so the metal heating nozzle doesn’t burn you. Create 3D objects on top of a heat-resistant silicone mat and use either silicone finger protectors or metal spatulas when you need to move freshly printed objects. Shut off your 3D pen at regular intervals so it doesn’t overheat, and check the nozzle for signs of clogging once it’s cooled down.

Objects you can make with 3D pens

With time, patience and the careful use of prepared diagrams, you can use 3D pens to make the same kinds of items 3D printers can generate. Art pieces, toys and costume jewelry are particularly popular. And 3D pens also can repair plastic objects with chipped edges or cracks.

What to look for in a quality 3D pen filament

Filaments sized to fit your 3D pen 

A 3D pen is designed to accommodate a specific type of thermoplastic filament, with a thickness measured in millimeters. When purchasing new filament, check its thickness against your pen’s specs to make sure they’re compatible.

Filament products with the colors you want

Most 3D pen filament packs come with different colored filaments, letting hobbyists create objects with distinct colors or multi-colored layers. Check the packs’ descriptions to see if they have the colors you need.

Materials that are safe for kids and adults to handle

Even the best 3D pens have heating nozzles that can scald the flesh if poorly handled, while certain kinds of thermoplastic can emit caustic fumes or harm skin if touched while hot. To minimize the dangers of using a 3D pen, search for filaments that are non-toxic and cool quickly. Kids below age 12 should be carefully supervised when handling a 3D pen. 

How much you can expect to spend on 3D pen filaments

Most 3D pen filaments come in packages that cost around $20, though a few cost as much as $40 or less than $15. Generally, they cost a lot less than filament for 3D printers.

3D pen filament FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between 3D pen filament and 3D printer filament?

A. Both 3D pen filament and 3D printer filament are made from the same type of material — a thermoplastic that melts when squeezed through a heated nozzle. In most cases, the difference is a matter of packaging — 3D pen filament comes in small packs, while 3D printer filament is sold in large, fairly heavy reels.

Q. Who invented the 3D pen?

A. The first 3D pen, a product called the 3Doodler, was invented by Peter Dilwoth, Maxwell Bogue and Daniel Cowen, who wanted to create a cheaper, more accessible version of a 3D printer. After the trio’s successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, a number of other companies also started designing and selling 3D pens.

What’s the best 3D pen filament to buy?

Top 3D pen filament

Mika3D 32 Color 3D Pen PLA Filament Refills

Mika3D 32 Color 3D Pen PLA Filament Refills

What you need to know: This 3D pen refill pack has PLA filaments in a wide range of colors well suited for creative art projects.

What you’ll love: It contains four metallic colored filaments, 10 transparent color filaments and 18 solid color filaments, each 1.75 millimeters in diameter and compatible with most 3D pens and printers. It also comes with four finger caps for safety.

What you should consider: Each filament in this package is only 3 meters long, making it harder to create larger mono-color objects with a 3D pen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top 3D pen filament for the money

Mika3D PLA FIlament Refills 25 Colors Pack for 3Doodler

Mika3D PLA FIlament Refills 25 Colors Pack for 3Doodler

What you need to know: This bargain pack contains PLA filament made to fit the 3Doodler Create 3D Pen.

What you’ll love: There are 100 PLA filament strands in this refill pack, each 2.85 millimeters in diameter and 0.3 meters long. Two silicone finger caps are included to protect the fingertips when handling objects recently made with a 3D pen.

What you should consider: The filament’s thickness is compatible with only a limited range of 3D pens.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Dikalee 3D Pen Filament 16 Colors

Dikalee 3D Pen Filament 16 Colors

What you need to know: This pack has 320 feet of multi-colored PLA filament, giving hobbyists all the materials they’ll need to make 3D objects of myriad hues.

What you’ll love: The filaments are 1.75 millimeters in diameter and come in 16 colors, with each individual color strand measuring a bit over 6 meters long.

What you should consider: This type of filament is too thin to fit in most 3Doodler 3D pens.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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