3D pens are an easy way to introduce the concept of 3D printing. Less expensive and more portable than a 3D printer, they still function on the same principle of extruding melted plastic filament through a nozzle. With 3D pens, users are able to manipulate and build filament layers by hand which makes them very adaptable for tracing line drawings, creating frameworks for 3D objects, doodling, and experimenting with drawing in three dimensions.

When used to create accessible materials, 3D pens can add raised lines and details to illustrations or diagrams as shown here:

Boy using a 3D pen to outline an illustration of an elephant.  Walrus illustration with raised tactile lines drawn with 3D pen.

3D pens are also used to create tactile enhancements to accompany books or other educational materials through the creation of models and shapes that include additional texture and silhouettes. Colored filaments also allow for high contrast coloring and adaptations for different visual impairments. Examples of tactile enhancements to learning materials are shown here:

Spider puppet and 3D pen drawings of spider web and horse. 3D pen created outline of Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat.

Watch tutorials on 3D pen basics:

How to Make a Tactile Book


Basics for Using 3D Pens


Additional resources for working with 3D pens