Willow Barton, a senior at Mt. Pleasant Community High School, had been watching artists online for years create art with 3D pens — a pen that warms plastic to allow the user to “write” in 3D. So, when the art department received an $800 grant from the Mt. Pleasant Academic Booster Club for 3D pens, she jumped at the chance to try it out for herself.
“It’s kind of like a moldable plastic clay, but you have more control and you don’t need a kiln,” Barton said.
Barton said the plastic is a great alternative for people who need a break from working with clay, and it’s not easily breakable.
“There is a learning curve,” Barton added, saying it took her a few tries to get a hang of how quickly the moldable plastic comes off the pen and how to mold it.
Rebecca Bos, art teacher, said she was thrilled when she learned about the grant opportunity in the fall of 2018, which purchased 15 wireless 3 Doodler pens and plastic filament for them.
Bos had never used a 3D pen herself before receiving the grant. She said it’s a professional and personal goal of hers to incorporate one new piece of technology into her classroom every year. The 3D pens fulfilled that goal for the 2018-2019 school year.
“I cannot sing their praises enough,” Bos said.
Bos said 3D pens are not only the future of the art world, but they are being used to create prototypes in technology, engineering, construction and robotics. “Doing a prototype lets you look for structural integrity and weaknesses,” Bos said. “To construct, first you have to deconstruct.”
In Bos’ Sculpture II class, each student got 40 filaments for the semester. She said she anticipants writing more grants for more filaments in the future, and if she doesn’t get a grant, she will use money from the school’s yearly art budget to purchase the filament because of the “joy and challenges and successes” she sees in her classroom with the 3D pen.
Maizy Wells, a junior, was making an octopus with a 3D pen for her final project in Sculpture II class. She “drew” a ball with the pen and was attaching eight separate tentacles to the body.
Anne Schnicker, a senior, was crafting a turtle with the 3D pen because she “just thought it was cute.” The pen works quickly, Schnicker said, and is “very satisfying” to work with.
Macy Krum, a sophomore, was making a yellow duck with the 3D pen. To get the dimensions right, she drew on a silicone mat with grids.
“Something about their yellow bodies just caught my eye,” Krum said about her project.
The yellow plastic filaments made Madison Wilson, a junior, think of sunflowers.
“I like how it’s easy to use,” Wilson said about the 3D pens. “You don’t have to get dirty with it like with clay or wait for it to dry.”