Lix 3D-printing pen allows users to create
solid drawings in the air


A team of London-based designers claim to have created the world's smallest 3D-printing pen – an anodised aluminium device called Lix that allows users to "doodle in the air" (+ movie).

Lix 3D printing pen

Described by its creators as "a 3D printing pen or manual micro 3D printer", the 16.4-centimetre-long Lix looks similar to an ordinary pen with a slim aluminium body and fine nib. At its widest the Lix is 1.4 centimetres thick, and weighs 40 grams.

Update: read how 3D drawing tools like Lix will "give the world a new way to communicate"

It can be charged via a power cable that plugs into any USB port and can melt two types of plastic filament – ABS and PLA – to create a liquid plastic "ink" that cools and solidifies rapidly to give rigidity to a line as it is drawn.

Lix 3D printing pen

Buttons near the nib allow the user to control the output of the melted plastic and the thickness of the drawn line.

Lix 3D printing pen

The pen launched on crowd funding site Kickstarter earlier this week and has already raised more than ten times its target funding of £30,000.

Its designers say it will have unlimited applications in both the creative industries and further afield. It has already been backed by fashion designers, architects, stylists and even lawyers, they told Dezeen.

Lix 3D printing pen

"One lawyer stated she needed the pen for 'Possible use during trials of Med-Mal cases to provide 3D images of various body part(s) lost due to negligence'," said Delphine Eloise Wood, co-founder of the newly established Lix Pen Ltd, the company behind the project.

Lix 3D printing pen

"You do not need any sheets of paper or pencil trying to make your sketch more expressive and understandable, or giving your drawing more realistic and detailed fill," she added.

The team identified USBs as a common power source that they say will make the pen "more portable and universal in use to everyone".

Lix 3D printing pen

"The most difficult problem for us was to reduce the size of the mechanical parts, reposition them and let them work together," said the Lix team in its Kickstarter statement.

Lix 3D printing pen

"We are using a micro planetary gear motor, special innovative material with a very low thermal conductivity and many other things such as another gear box for the filament supply system," they said.

Lix 3D printing pen

"When the patented mechanism was created and perfectly adapted into a 12-millimetre diameter tube, our second task was to create a slick design based on user experience and visual side."

Lix 3D printing pen

The company could not confirm who will manufacture the pen, but the designers expect to finalise the production prototype by the end of June with a view to shipping the first batch to Kickstarter backers by September.

A chunkier 3D pen called the 3Doodler was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, with U.S. company WobbleWorks raising almost $500,000 in one day.

  • Slooooow.

    Great first step though, It’ll be exciting to see how these improve with each generation.

  • morbidcafe

    It’s really awesome. But I can totally see how people 15-20 years from now will look at this product and be like “wow I can’t believe how primitive our everyday tools used to be!”

    • Naah. Basic drawing tools haven’t really changed THAT much since 1994. ;)

  • No WAY this backfires. No way, nohow.

  • clever guys

    As the inventor of the “3D Doodler” I would be annoyed. But as a designer I like how it shows how you can diversify your product from what is already there, just through clever design. Cheeky guys hijacking one of the most successful Kickstarter ideas, but clever. ;)

  • nuarb

    The 3Doodler raised over 2.3 million dollars. You might want to correct that in the end of this article.

    • Chamelean

      It says 500,000 in one day.

  • Samuel Brooks

    Well, at least graffiti will be MUCH easier to clean up when left in the air.

  • d

    Reminds me of a glue gun…

  • ha

    Well this is just EXACTLY the same as isn’t it?

  • yes

    Yes. It is mentioned in the article too. There are also many 3D printers on Kickstarter that use the same principle but are different. And slim wallets. And laser cut multitools. And so on.

  • Ron Bennington

    Ugh, getting real tired of these Apple-esque commercials, but I love the fact that they used Robin Williams as a hand model here!

  • Garo Ungaro

    The extension of a tool for designs in a 3D format is good innovation, and with this new innovative tool comes new ideas.

  • That’s awesome! Can’t wait to see the first 3D architecture model made with this!