3D pens that bring doodling into a new dimension

Skip the paper; draw in the air.

Beginning in early childhood, we use drawing to bring our imaginary worlds to life. Unfortunately, no matter how many different colors of pencil and marker you use, the end results are still firmly confined to a flat surface. No longer: 3D doodle pens use gently heated and extruded plastic, turning a familiar device into something like a sculpting tool. Below, some of our favorite handheld 3D printers.

When it’s time to get serious. Amazon

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The 3Doodler is a slightly more professional and feature-heavy version of the 3D pen, right down to its overall look, feel, and presentation. It’s not just for creating cool designs, they also encourage you to figure out ways to repair things or “hack” them to make them work better with a few quick handmade accessories. The pen itself is small, feels natural in your hand, and has six interchangeable nozzles. The accompanying 3Doodler app has easy-to-follow stencils and design ideas and direct access to your social media accounts to post your creations.

Built, not drawn. Amazon

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Anticipating every parent’s first reaction to be “is this safe,” Mynt3D leads with their reassuringly comprehensive safety measures. Compatible with low-temperature, no-odor PCL (a bio-polyester), the pen also has intelligent temperature control so as to avoid any glue gun-like burns. The kit comes with a USB charging cable, instruction manuals, and stencils.

Choice for beginners. Amazon

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The 3D Doodler Start practically screams “user-friendly” with its single button and chunky, graspable body. Insert plastic filament into the hole at the top, press the orange button, and wait about 60 seconds for the pen to warm up. Then hold the same button to draw. The kit includes the 3D pen as well as stencils that help you get over the initial learning curve.