CES 2014 is flush with 3D printers this year, and while they're getting cheaper and easier to use, you still need to either buy 3D models online to print, or design your own which requires know-how of 3D modelling software. But we all know how to use a crayon or magic marker to draw, and the folks behind the 3Doodler are counting on that. It lets you freehand draw a 3D creation, and while it's easy to operate, a heaping helping of patience and precision is required.
Using the 3Doodler is a lot like using a glue gun. You feed a thin stick of meltable plastic into the end of the pen, wait for an LED status light to turn from red to green, and then start sketching your creation. Two buttons are provided that control the speed of the extruded plastic. A fast button is ideal for making flat 2D creations on a piece of paper, while a slow button is what you'll want to rely on when moving into the 3rd dimension.
After a five minute crash course in how to use the 3Doodler, I was off to the races — but unfortunately I stumbled out of the gate. While the pen is easy to operate, actually using it to create a clean 3D model requires more patience than I was able to muster this morning.
There were several examples of larger 3D models on display at 3Doodler's stand, but they all had to represent hundreds of hours of work and concentration. At jut $US75 the 3Doodler is definitely the cheapest way to dive into 3D printing, but you'll need to factor in the cost of man hours needed to realise a project. And remember, if you can't draw, the 3Doodler isn't going to magically turn you into an artist. [3Doodler]