HomeBlog 3D pen tutorial #2 – Basic techniques for using a 3D printing pen

3D pen tutorial #2 – Basic techniques for using a 3D printing pen


Introduction: basic 3D pen techniques and skills

I’m back with Part 2 of my 3D pen tutorial series! In this article, we will build on the 3D pen fundamentals that we talked about in Part 1. The goal here is to round out your basic skills so that you can improve the quality of your own creations.

Part 1 of the series covers everything you need for Getting Started with a 3D pen, so have a look at that if you haven’t already.

The tutorial videos show many visual examples and little details that are difficult to capture in text, so watching them is highly recommended.

Finally, be careful and take the proper precautions when using any equipment that this Tutorial requires.

The other 2 videos in the tutorial series cover Getting Started and Advanced 3D Pen techniques and can be found on my YouTube channel.

Basic 3D pen technique #1: Area filling

The first technique we are going to talk about is filling in areas. If you are just 3D penning a flat object, you may want the filling to be solid, as can be seen below.

3D pen tutorial: basic skill area filling

In this case, you want to use a slow and steady hand speed to fill the area fully, with no gaps between lines. Don’t be afraid to turn the paper if you need a better angle/direction for penning.

If you’re going to use flat parts as the underlying structure to assemble a 3D object, then you can get away with a much coarser filling (like a waffle pattern) of the area. This saves you time and filament.

3D pen basic techniques filling in a shape
You just want to ensure that the piece will have enough strength to hold together. You can do that by filling the area with multiple coarse layers, that go in different directions from each other.

Basic 3D pen technique #2: Simple structures

Let’s now talk about 3 different ways you can make 3D pen objects.

1. Freehand

The first way to make a 3D object is you can pen freehand and keep building up the object that way. This is much more difficult and less structured than the other two approaches.

3D pen basics: freehand forming

2. Assemble different parts (“welding”)

The second is you can make separate flat pieces (see Basic 3D pen technique #1) and then join them together. I also refer to this as “welding” them together. Joining is such an important basic 3D pen technique that it is covered in Basic 3D pen technique #3, discussed further below.

Basic 3D pen techniques: welding parts together

3. Using another object as a mold

And the third is penning over an existing 3D object, using it to set the basic shape. This is especially valuable to do for curvy objects, like spheres.

Penning over an existing object with painter's tape

A trick to making this easier is to cover the object in blue painters tape, to give the filament something to stick to. Make sure you apply the tape as smoothly as possible, avoiding wrinkles.

Basic 3D pen technique #3: Joining or “welding”

Here are some key tips to joining 3D pen pieces together:

  • Plan upfront how the pieces are going to go together. Make sure your pen can physically fit into the tight corners and spaces.
  • Use existing parts as a stencil or template to get the size right of mating pieces you are creating.
  • Do not use too much filament to weld pieces together. If you use too much, the pieces can start melting and lose their shape.
  • Holding parts together and using the pen at the same time can be challenging- using some tac adhesive putty can be helpful here.

The video shows some nice examples of joining.

Basic 3D pen technique #4: Fixing your mistakes

Alright, this may not be a technique, but it certainly is something we need to talk about. No one wants to make a huge mistake after spending so much time into creating something!

Luckily, 3D penning can allow you to correct or recover from your mistakes. When you are at the stage of building up the underlying structure of your object, don’t be afraid to get your flush cutters out ; cut off the mistake and try again.

Beginner 3D pen skills joining pieces together

The final finishing layer is where you really need to take a lot of care, as mistakes there can be harder to recover from.

Basic 3D pen technique #5: Easiest surface finish

Now that we have covered how to make the underlying structure of our 3D objects, let’s talk about one of the easiest finishing methods that looks good. I refer to this as the “furry surface finish”.

How to make an easy yet good-looking surface finish with a 3D pen

Make sure that the underlying surface has only small gaps and no large bumps or divots. The way to apply this finish layer is to make very small, random movements with your hand, as you slowly make your way across the object.

Easy surface finish with a 3D pen

These random movements help to blend the final layer together and create a nice, uniform final surface. The video demos some different ways of replicating this technique.

I hope these tips and suggestions have helped round out your 3D pen skills! Part 3 of this Tutorial series will cover Advanced Techniques and will be released soon.

About this author

Ali a.k.a. Potent Printables

Ali runs the YouTube channel Potent Printables, which focuses on 3D Pen and 3D Printing content.