There are 3D-printing pens that let prolific doodlers turn their drawings into three-dimensional sculptures, but all users are really left with is a piece of art. Polaroid’s taking 3D-printing pens one step further by replacing extruded plastic with melted candy so that when your masterpiece is complete, you can eat it.
The Polaroid CandyPlay 3D Pen isn’t an entirely new idea; we’ve already seen 3D printers upgraded so they extrude edible material instead of PLA plastic, and kids have had access to a printing pen that extrudes melted chocolate since 2015. What sets the CandyPlay 3D Pen apart is that it’s entirely freehand, so anyone can dive right in and start creating without having to learn to use software to design or prep a 3D model first. And unlike the chocolate pen, the candy material used here is rigid enough when cool that it can be layered to slowly build up 3D models.
Out of the box the CandyPlay 3D Pen, which sells for about $US50 ($64), comes with four strawberry-flavored candy cartridges that appear to be much easier and cleaner to load than trying to dump a handful of sugar into the pen. In fact, while there are six different sweet flavours to choose from (strawberry, orange, apple, grape, lemon, and cola) the edible printing material is apparently sugar-free.
The candy cartridges don’t look especially large, maybe the size of a couple of Jolly Ranchers, which means that if 3D candy becomes your artistic medium of choice, you’ll probably go through them rather quickly. Refills for each flavour are available, but at about $US28 ($36) for 40 candy cartridges (or around $US32 ($41) for the multi-flavour 48-pack), it sounds like Polaroid is taking the inkjet printer route and making most of its money on the refills. If the device catches on, however, you can expect to see cheaper third-party refills become available at more competitive prices.
Using Polaroid’s CandyPlay 3D Pen seems easy enough: You plug it in (there’s no rechargeable battery), wait for an LED to tell you the heating mechanism is warm enough, and then press a button to intermittently extrude the sticky material, or set it to flow freely until you tell it to stop if you don’t feel like holding down a button all the time. What you create is completely up to your imagination and skill level, but Polaroid recommends starting with some traceable stencils it will provide for download on its site so users can familiarise themselves with how the pen works. It’s likely not as easy as using a ballpoint pen or a Sharpie, but the payoff seems more delicious than trying to lick ink off a page.