3D printing is all the rage. Our boys have been into it, at one level or another, for a couple years. At our local library where the participate in STEM activities after school, the learning lab is equipped with a large (to me) 3D printer, and our second son has a 3D printing pen he’s become quite adept with it, making a variety of projects for fun and for more practical purposes, using them in his Lego and model train constructs. Both of these printing devices use plastic filament – a thick, semi-brittle strand of colored plastic that is warmed and shaped, either manually (with the pen) or through a program (with the printer).
This IDO3D (pronounced “I do 3D”) Vertical Four Pen Set is a very different creative experience. Instead of a hard plastic that must be warmed, the pens are filled with colored liquid. Then, the dispersed liquid is exposed to UV light which causes the liquid to harden into plastic. Pretty cool.
When you turn on the light depends on what project you have selected. If you’re doing a flat project, that is basically tracing, or, if you are creating flat pieces that will later be connected to construct a final project, then you apply the liquid, tracing or drawing your shape. When the liquid is in place, you turn on the ultraviolet light, moving it back and forth across the liquid until it hardens.
When you are tracing or drawing a finished project, most of the time, you’ll want to work on the clear plastic sheet included in all IDO3D sets for two reasons.
First, the liquid may stain (so you want to protect your work surface) and it will stick to paper once it’s hardened. Unless you want it stuck to the paper, use the plastic, from which the finished product is easily peeled away.
Second, once you’ve used the ultraviolet light to harden the liquid on top, you will pick up the plastic sheet and shine the ultraviolet light on the back side of the project, ensuring the project is completely hardened all over and all the way through.
I found working with the liquid much more challenging than I expected. My son, who has been using his filament-based pen for a year, said he prefers the liquid based IDO3D pens because he can get better results. I also noticed this son had more patience, and worked more slowly than I or his brother did, which is probably why he got so much better results.
If you decide to try these out, here are my recommendations:
- Visit the Create in 3D website and enroll in their free courses for using the pens, and watch all the videos.
- Hint: when you first land on the page, you will only see courses for “AtmosFlare 3D Drawing Pens.” Click on the blue button that says View all courses to also see the courses featuring the IDO3D Vertical Pens.
- Bonus hint: Enroll in both the IDO3D Vertical Pen courses and the AtmosFlare 3D Drawing Pen courses. The techniques are the same, but you get to see them done with different projects (and it gives you more ideas for projects, too).
- Course sections range from about half a minute to a couple minutes. They are short, but incredibly helpful in using the pens.
- Keep some baby wipes or alcohol wipes handy. I used some Wipe’nClear alcohol based wipes for glasses and screens. If you’re like me, you’ll inadvertently get the liquid on your skin. It’s pretty oily (and icky) and the wipes were most effective in removing it. (Tip: It also removed the liquid from the table and a template when the liquid was accidentally dispensed without the plastic sheet.
- Use a completely flat surface. When I say the substance inside the pens is liquid, I mean liquid. Like water is a liquid. This is not paint, which you brush onto a surface and it stick. You use the pen to carefully dispense the liquid where you want it, but it will not stay there until it is hardened by the ultraviolet light. If your work surface is on any kind of slant, gravity will pull the liquid out of the shape you want surprisingly fast (and then you’ll be pulling out those alcohol wipes).
- Use less liquid first, then go back and add more. Make a thin line, then retrace it to make it thicker. Making a filled in shape? Trace the outline, then fill it in sparsely. Wait for the liquid to settle (which won’t take long) and add more only if needed.
- If you put on an extension or make something too long, that’s easy to fix, too. Just use the ultraviolet light to make the plastic harden, then break off the part that’s not how you want.
That is pretty much all there is to using these pens – except for practice. Watch the videos, proceed with patience (slow is better) and practice.
Read more in part two of this post for examples of when to harden the plastics – it all depends on your project.
The IDO3D Vertical Four Pen Set that I received came with four pens, in the colors pink, white, yellow, and blue; an ultraviolet light tip for hardening, a plastic sheet for tracing and shape molds to “write” on to create shapes, and a “guidemap” (an instructional sheet). It appears that this set is no longer available, but there is a nearly identical Four Pen Set available on Amazon that contains the colors pink, white, green and purple.
The IDO3D Vertical Five Pen Set come with four pens, in the colors green, purple, orange, red, and blue; an ultraviolet light tip for hardening, a plastic sheet for tracing and shape molds to “write” on to create shapes; and a guidebook with beginner, medium, and advanced projects.
I received these IDO3D Vertical Pen sets at no cost for testing and review purposes.
Any opinion expressed here is mine alone.
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