[By Lance Ulanov – originally posted on Mashable.com]
Humans are accustomed to drawing in the air. We gesture with our hands when talking and will try to illustrate charade secrets by “drawing” objects in space. 3D-printing pens takes those gestures, makes them tangible and, in the hands of an artists, beautiful. Recent 3D-printing pens have been cool, but clunky affairs. LIX Pen, however, is something different. It’s light, small and apparently needs no more power than you can draw from your run-of-the-mill laptop. Now it’s coming to Kickstarter.
Measuring 6.45 inches long, 0.55 inch in diameter and weighing just 1.23 ounces, the aluminum 3D-printing pen (which also comes in black) really is pen sized. You hold it just like a pen, and plug a 3.5mm-like jack into the base and the other end of your cable into your computer. The juice allows LIX to heat to over 300-degrees Fahrenheit, though the plant-based PLA filament (it can also use the stronger ABS plastic) only needs to heat to 180-degrees to work. That filament is fed in through a hole in the base and emerges as a super-heated liquid on the tip so you can start doodling in the air.
Unlike 3D printers, there is no program guiding the printing tip. Instead, to create 3D objects, you simply start drawing in the air with the LIX Pen, moving slowly as the melted filament draws out. It cools quickly so that your structure remains rigid. Each filament rod is about 10 centimeters long and should, according to the company, last for about two minutes of air-drawing.3D pen printing works for everything from abstract sculpture to fine art and jewelry to T-shirt design. The only limit, it appears, is your skill level and ability to hold and move the pen very, very steadily.