Forget 3D printers in the classroom that take forever to print anything out. Imagine getting children to create 3D shapes immediately in a maths lesson by drawing them in the air! Or drawing 3D musical notes and passing them round to children to look at in a music lesson! All these things and more are now possible, at a reasonable price, thanks to the development of 3D pens.

Available now for around £50 each

For around £50 (at the time of writing) these pens are now available on Amazon and the 'ink' for them costs around £10 for 6 colours. The first and most popular of these 3D pens was the 3Doodler and it has been used in classrooms for the last year or so, but its popularity has led to the introduction of lots of other 3D pens which are now around half the price.

How they work

3D pens have a hot-nozzle and mains power is needed for each pen, therefore teaching near to a power supply is essential as the leads are not that long. Heated filament is extruded through the pen’s tip, which quickly cools down to form a stable 3D structure. The same technology that powers mainstream 3D desktop printers is used in the pens.

Infinite uses in the classroom

The great thing about 3D pens is that you can create anything with them so for educators with an imagination the opportunities are endless. By simply creating a 3D printed object in a maths lesson you can measure its area, perimeter, angles and even weight. Designs in a D&T lesson can be brought into reality easily using one of these pens. Anything you're covering in a history lesson can be created in the classroom - like a pharoah's tomb or a Roman villa. You can even use them for art therapy for children with special needs and in Biology to create a model of a human heart or a skeleton of the human body. The list is endless.

Free Templates

As well as creating your own ideas in the classroom with these fabulous 3D pens, there are lots of templates to follow too. The idea is that you draw over the template, wait for it to dry and then join it together with another side of the model. Here are a collection of templates for 3D pens. You can easily make your own templates too by tracing over any 3D design template with the pen.

Lego integration

3D pens can also be used with Lego. Some great examples of this can be found on the 3Doodler site which include Newton's cradle, a catapult, a pulley system, a rollercoaster and a trampoline.

As these pens are much cheaper than 3D printers, they are a very practical way to get your students using 3D technology in the classroom. After the initial investment, they are very a affordable 3D printing option and allow the students to illustrate concepts from across the curriculum in three dimensions.


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Gary Hall Gary Hall is based in East Yorkshire, England, and has a background in education, marketing and technology.