The SXSW trade show occurs in the Austin Convention Center and is at the heart of SXSW Interactive. Here, a great variety of companies, countries, and associates have booths showcasing their wares, ideas, and associations. One of these companies is CreoPop, the first “cool” 3D printing pen.
The CreoPop booth was quite well attended, as they had just participated in the SXSW Accelerator competition and used the CreoPop pen to document that occasion in a sculptural format. I had the opportunity to speak with CreoPop co-founder Andreas Birnik to get more information about what makes this pen so one-of-a-kind. The most important thing here with their photopolymer 3D printing pen is the uniqueness of the materials.
Birnik repeatedly emphasized that this company is committed to making 3D printing “inks” that are extraordinary and add something new to the market. The basic batter of every CreoPop ink starts with a transparent photopolymer base with photo initiators. As a photopolymer, the ink reacts with a certain light that solidifies it.
However, this mixture has a high viscosity, which gives it its remarkable properties. Photopolymers are typically liquid and this limits them to inkjet style printers, but the viscosity of CreoPop’s ink allows it to ooze out in a manner that gives it a similar structural integrity to FDM 3D printing. And this pen oozes with creativity.
Normally photopolymers require a very strong laser to cure the ink. CreoPop’s ink is, however, modified to cool at a lower temperature, so that it can be safely used in pen form. The base batter of the inks is mixed with food coloring to create different colors. The paste may then be fused with various nanoparticles to create inks that are scented, or glow in the dark, or invoke other similarly creative properties.
There are currently seven inks and two are in advanced R&D, while nineteen remain in an experimental stage. So, you can look forward to more innovations from this particular company. According to Birnik “3D printing today is where mobile phones were in 1995” and CreoPop plans to bring this technology into the future.