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Voices of the 3Doodler Dissenters

By February 21, 2013. 3D Printers, 3D Printing, Consumers, Featured, Industry Insights, News

So as the 3Doodler, which Mike covered a couple of days ago on 3DPI, surpasses $1 million worth of pledges on only the fourth day of its campaign – you would be forgiven for thinking that the 11,000+ backers were on to something. Well, as one of said backers, I can’t deny that I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new toy and using it, and encouraging my children to use it. To date, this is the first “3D printing” product that I have thought: ‘Yes, absolutely! I can do that – I WANT to do that!’ And, at $75 it won’t break the bank – even if it doesn’t go to plan. There are 11,817 other people (at the time of writing) who seem to agree with me.

Of the many positive reactions that I have seen, I think that renowned designer, Michiel Cornelissen’s is my favourite, he tweeted: “I was giggling with excitement during the whole video of 3Doodler 3D Printing pen. You bet I backed!”

So, yes, lots of excited people, me included.

But there are a few dissenters, with rather irate voices, making their feelings known.  A small group that do not consider the 3Doodler to be either 3D printing or even anything remotely new. I decided to follow up with them, because I know most of them personally and hold them in high regard in terms of their knowledge, expertise and experience in the 3D printing field.

Here’s what they told me, when prompted for their (publishable) opinions:

Jeremy Pullin, Rapid Manufacturing Manager at Renishaw plc:

“So a glue gun is ‘the worlds first handheld 3D printing device?’ That’s no more a 3D printing device than a pencil is a 2D printing device. There are much better mediums for sculpting by hand than hot strings of ABS. And, I think the glue gun was invented in 1949 so a few years before 3Doodler. So it is neither 3D printing or a world first.

The paradox is that the more people try to make 3D printing look good with wild claims the more they make it look bad by damaging its credibility when it fails to meet inflated expectations. ”

Kevin Quigley, who has run his own Design Consultancy for 20+ years, and contracts 3D printed parts regularly:

“Is this pen a new idea? Yes. It combines existing technologies in a slightly different way. Does that make it a good product? No. It is not a revolutionary new 3D printing device as some claim. It is a novelty, nothing more. The fact that it gained funding on KickStarter is irrelevant. The team behind it are good at marketing, they exploited the current 3D printing hype and they priced it low enough for people with spare funds to consider it a no brainer purchase. Good for them.

For me it is yet another gimmicky 3D printer product squeezing out overpriced plastic that offers transient interest to people with too much money and time who probably drive to Starbucks in their Prius to tweet their followers about the new stringy bird they made. Harsh? Perhaps. But for me, as a 3D printing user for 20 years I had hoped that by this stage we would be doing something more meaningful with the technology. The 3rd Industrial Revolution this is not.

I consider this to be an example of a bad product. It consumes resources and produces rubbish. If people are daft enough to buy it fine, but don’t expect the rest of us to be wowed by your stringy plastic tat creations.”

Magnus Bombus (alias):

“I’m just a little disappointed that from the institute that brought us the people who invented and developed 3D printing (or call it what you will) in the eighties we are now 30 years later getting cheep toy makers (doubt it will be cheap, but it looks it, not to mention what it produces), feels a bit like a step or 6 backward for the 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing world. Saying its a 3D printer feels more than a little dishonest, the equivalent of stickle bricks billing their product as a cheap easy to use construction material perfect for your new home or office block.”

Jochen Hanselmann, a 3D Printing ambassador that offers training and workshops and 3D Printing Services.

“Even if the 3Doodler is an innovative idea, of which I am not convinced, I don’t see a real use or need to create tiny, unstable plastic shapes/items. From my perspective it is just another “toy” which will add more plastic garbage to our planet. Nowadays, society discusses sustainability and econological aspects of products. How does a tool like the 3Doodler fit into this? How will people dispose of failed sketches, just throw them away? Eventually, I am concerned that ABS plastic is promoted in the first place. ABS produces fumes when melted which may irritate the eyes, skin or respiratory tract.”

Graham Tromans: Independent Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Industry Consultant

“When I first saw the 3Doodler the first thing I thought was ‘It’s not 3D printing – it’s a modified hot glue gun!’ Just because it’s done well on Kickstarter it doesn’t mean it is a good product. My worry is that we are cheapening everything that we have achieved over the last 25 years in the Additive Manufacturing industry and products like this just do not help. This focuses people’s attention on toys rather than the real advantages of AM in the industrial sector.” 

So a number of issues there, and it’s important to have different perspectives, I think. While this lot have made me stop and think, personally I am not adverse to embracing the 3Doodler under the umbrella term of 3D printing at the lowest end of the spectrum AND I am still looking forward to October. We’ll find out then whether my (and others) excitement is justified, or whether I have to concede defeat. In the meantime, why not share your opinion here too. Have you backed 3Doodler, will you or is it indeed just a modified glue gun?

I’ll leave you with a visual image from Magnus (on Twitter yesterday) that sums up his main point – that a glue gun is not a 3D printer!!

  • Methinks some doth protest too much.

    I would like to think the 3D printing community was more inclusive– except when it comes to whiners and naysayers.

    • disqus_0yalNSWtO6


      The 3D printing community is inclusive of 3D printing stuff but the 3Doodler does not fit into this category because it’s not a 3D printer in fact it’s not any kind of printer. Neither is it a world first.

      Whether you agree or not is entirely up to you (i don’t care either way to be honest) but at least the people in the article have put their point accross by no9t just expressing their oppinions but also explaining why they hold them. All you have done is used a few silly names like naysayers without attempting to contribute to the debate at all. I mean what are you going to do if people continue to knock this over priced glue gun, hold your breath and stamp your feet with your fingers in your ears.

      Either come into the classroom and contribute to the adults discussion or stay in the playground. it’s your call.

      Jez Pullin

  • I noticed this dissent on Twitter and thought it was really funny. I had no idea that it was such a controversial product! I do sort of think of it as a high-powered glue gun and a novelty to an extent, but it’s a cool novelty that I think acts as a signpost of how widespread 3D printing will or has already become. Also, I forgot to mention in my post that Scott Crump of Stratasys came up with fused deposition modeling when, according to Wikipedia, “he decided to make a toy frog for his young daughter using a glue gun loaded with a mixture of polyethylene and candle wax.” So maybe Scott Crump would say that a 3D printer is already a sort of modified glue gun.

  • zip

    This is neither “The World’s First 3D Printing Pen” or all that innovative, the same idea was published back in 2010. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4156

  • Ben Malouf

    I bought one almost immediately after landing on the kick starter page. No it’s not a 3d printer . Yes it’s a glorified hot glue gun (with a motor, much hotter tip, and more precise orifice). But would these people be so pissed if it hadn’t been so successful? I bought one because I thought it might be a handy tool to use in conjunction with my printers for repairs and adding “rounds” to otherwise weak inside corners.

    That said, the artist in me will invariably try to make a sculpture with it,fail to make anything remotely worth displaying or giving away , and scrap the effort. And so will 20,000 other people.

    • Agreed 100%.

      The complainers are missing the big picture. No, this isn’t at all 3D printer as industry veterans understand it, but that’s a very minor point of contention. This little device has served to attach “cool” to additive manufacturing even if it doesn’t meet a purist’s definition. It fits in a broader category that maybe needs defining now.

      I suspect you’re right that this little gadget is suffering the double-edged sword of popularity. It’s a glorified glue gun! But it’s something that actually could have been introduced many years ago, and I think some of the 3D printing “old guard” are miffed that something so basic, so “should have been obvious” is getting so much attention (and money).

      But I believe that attention is a good thing. So let’s think inclusive and maybe craft a term that includes SLA, FDM, sintering and the 3Doodler in one big, cool tent.

  • RichRap

    $1.8M as I type this, I have been watching the sales climb and at no point did I feel the need to own one. It will be interesting to see if their patent (if granted) helps to stave off a rush of clones. Or more likely this will be a one hit wonder product, a nice idea but ultimately can’t go much further with this technology. They have done a great job on social marketing of this product, you can’t deny that!

    I would be personally worried about health concerns of using this with ABS, close proximity of use, slow or static feed rates at high temperature would cause fumes and (for me anyway) great discomfort, this sadly stops me even wanting to use one or making a similar product.

    If you want your kids doing safe creative sudo-3D stuff, use Icing sugar and a piping syringe :)

    I do wish them well and hope they really can make a dream product for some of the backers. What’s most interesting to me will be the reaction of the users when they get it in their hands.

    • Well my reactions will be posted … going to rope a few others in too :)

    • Nils Hitze

      Thank Rich – very helpful insights – once you said Icing i immediately thought of a Frostruder to go

  • Fantastic debate! Tnanks Rachel and all.

  • e_is_real_i_isnt

    The overlooked feature of the 3Doodler is the cooling fan that causes the filament to solidify very rapidly after it leaves the nozzle. This is the feature that distinguishes it from glue guns and plastic welders.

  • Bryan Kidder

    I see it as a useful tool for the rep rap users to fill spaces in their 3d printed parts. other than that I agree its a glorified glue gun.

  • Chris KM

    I got mine over the weekend, realized it was a glorified glue gun, although still kind of novel, made a few cool things, and now the damn thing is broken. 4 days old. I could see a better built and designed version being fun for kids, but what they made, for the price, SUCKs.

  • Dennis MacLaren

    I have the 3Doodler…….. Its busted not working after just one week…….. I know it’s my fault I did not use Doodler brand filament….. The cost of Doodler brand… let me say this go shopping and compare
    I want to do a large volume of 3Doodling the cost of 3Doodler brand is cost prohibitive on a large volume… I am just a peep that spent money on it and I am giving my end user review….. it’s a lemon

    • Dennis MacLaren

      Oh yeah forgot to tell I have been in contact with one of the co-founders….. I could get a fix for free….. I said no… If I have to use only your brand filament it is of no use to me

  • greggwon

    Those who have one, and have looked at it, can see that there is a “server” control port on it for driving the feed, and it has mounting screw holes for attachment to a robotic arm.

    It can be used for a lot more than a hand held glue gun. The real question is, will it be put to the other possible uses, or will it just be glue gun.

  • Alex C.

    I understand everyone saying it is just a modified glue gun that is a step back from 3D printing. I like it because I don’t see it as having anything to do with 3D printing. I see this as a new way of creating art and a new challenge to overcome (Because I have heard that it is not easy at first)