Diving Into Additive Manufacturing With 3D Pen Technology

Tennessee Tech AM-WATCH project offers virtual workshop showcasing what’s possible with a 3D Pen.

In early January, Tennessee Tech University offered a special Virtual AM-WATCH Studio Workshop with its full day seminar: Diving into Additive Manufacturing Practices via 3D Pen Technology. In this course, Kim Grady, an accomplished NSF Principal Investigator and  Instructional Technologist, created and conducted the 3-hour workshop for high school and technical college educators interested in teaching 3D printing skills.

Kim uses the 3Doodler 3D pen in this workshop to demonstrate 3D printing concepts such as layering, joining, geometry and measurement, and adding function to an object. If you are asking: What is a 3D printing pen? — it is a device designed to allow you to make  PLA or ABS plastic 3D objects without a 3D printer. Essentially, the 3Doodler Pen is a handheld extruder. 

The original 3Doodler originated with a 2013 Kickstarter (crowdfunding platform) project that made more than two million dollars above the fundraising goal. The company offers a variety of pens including easy to handle models for young hands and advanced control models for professionals. 

Of course, there are other makes and models of 3D pens on the market and we will list a couple of reviews that share pros and cons for many of them. This will help you find the best 3d printing pen for your needs or your students’ needs. If you are searching for products and ideas, consider also using “3D printing pen” or “3D drawing pen” as near-synonymous terms. Many consider the 3D pen to be a young cousin to the 3D printer, a handheld one, at that. 

You can watch the full 3-hour YouTube video, “Diving into Additive Manufacturing Practices via 3D Pen Technology,” also embedded here:

Tennessee Tech, through its AM Watch project and team, sponsored and delivered the workshop in collaboration with TEAMM’s Principal Investigator (PI) Mel Cossette and Kim Grady. Kim has been a MatEdU partner since 2004, an active participant for many NSF grants and continues to develop hands-on curriculum for a wide range of educators. She has produced downloadable courses and materials here on TEAMM as well as on MatEdU, including:

You also can find the complete collection of educator resources at the TEAMM Module page and on the MatEdU Module page (well over 100 modules you can download in PDF and PPT formats).

Dr. Ismail Fidan, who leads the AM-WATCH program, opened the workshop exploring and explaining how Additive Manufacturing is “a new way of making.” Graduate students followed Dr. Fidan’s remarks: Seymour Hasanov gave tips on the fundamentals of design, followed by Ankit Gupta highlighting various materials for AM, with Tyler Edwards explaining 3D Printer Parts and Operating Principles. 

Kim Grady’s three-hour session was packed with detailed explanations for how to use the 3D pen to teach complex 3D printing concepts. She defined and demonstrated the basic concepts then guided the participants, virtually, through hands-on application.  

Participants started with the basics of extrusion by writing their initials and fabricating basic shapes. To get a solid grasp on how wire framing and layering is used to fabricate real-world objects from PLA filament; squares were joined to create a hollow cube (shown below) and half spheres were joined to create a hollow ball. To illustrate and get experience with design, snowflakes with repeating hexagon shapes were constructed. “Real” 3D printing vocabulary and concepts were stressed throughout, making this workshop unique to any other 3D pen tutorial or workshop currently available.

As a “final project,” participants were challenged to apply what they learned to add function to their objects. The cube and ball concepts were used to fabricate a ball and socket, and the snowflake’s repeating shapes design concepts were applied to fabricate functioning gears. 

Final project results and ideas for how to use the 3D pen in your classroom can be viewed on the YouTube link above.  


  • You can visit the 3Doodler page directly. The New York Times Wirecutter review “The Best 3D Pen” recommends it highly as well. In fact, they do not list others and only recommend this one – a significant statement for them. There are educator-specific classroom kits under their “Schools” tab. Basic sets start around $169 (but is on sale frequently for around $89) and a Pro set is available at $199. 
  • Although a little dated, from 2019, this “Best 3D Pens” list from 3DInsider is well-rounded and linked to the Amazon listings for each pen (no affiliate relationship with us).

3D Pen Workshop Photo Gallery

Diagrams show similarities between the 3D pen and typical extrusion equipment used in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) which is the non-branded, non-trademarked version of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) which belongs to Stratasys and is roughly the same method.
Participant at Kim Grady 3Doodler Pen Workshop at TTU
Dr. Fidan used his smart phone to give a peek at what was happening in the face-to-face classroom at TTU where some participants gathered to participate in the workshop.
Participant at Kim Grady 3Doodler Pen Workshop at TTU
Math skills are at the center of 3D printing projects. Templates, scales, angles and geometry were used to show how to measure and calculate tolerances when fitting/joining shapes together and use repetition to add precision and strength to a design.
All participants received their own 3Doodler pen, all agreed they would be using the pen in their future 3D printing instruction.
3D Pen Workshop Participants learn how to make square panels that were then joined to create a hollow cube.

3D Printing Product Development Decisions with Dr. Jennifer Loy

Dr. Jennifer Loy presents at the TTU Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series

On Feb 18, Dr. Jennifer Loy from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, will present the 3D Printing Product Development Decisions webinar via the Tennessee Tech additive manufacturing lecture series.

Join from anywhere, via the Zoom video platform: tntech.zoom.us/j/432789883 at 11AM Central Time on Thursday, February 18.

Each semester, Dr. Ismail Fidan and team coordinate the well-respected TTU Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series. The Spring 2021 series kicks off with Professor Jennifer Loy who has taught industrial and product design for many years, and began her career in manufacturing when efficiencies were driven by standardization, but is now a convert to the unique capabilities of additive manufacturing (AM), presenting in this talk starting points on how manufacturers could approach integrating the technology into their business from a product design point of view.

Jennifer will share tips to help existing and new businesses understand what to 3D print, where it could be appropriate for them, and when it is not. Many businesses are finding that logic built up through years of conventional manufacturing practice and process no longer applies and it can be problematic when trying to reach an objective decision on what to make with AM and how to integrate it into production and business practice. Jennifer believes that in order for technology adoption to be successful, our understanding has to move beyond engineering to product design, production practice and logistics.

The aim of this short, illustrated presentation is to provide some initial guidance for a company considering adopting AM and starting points for evaluating product design options. These starting points and practical, realistic strategies and considerations are also the subject of a future book, going into greater depth, due to be published by Routledge in 2022.

Professor Loy introduced additive manufacturing into product design at Griffith university, initially at third year, then second and finally first year as she became convinced that to exploit its characteristics, product designers needed to explore its capabilities prior to those of conventional manufacturing. Jennifer is now Professor of Additive Manufacturing in the School of Engineering at Deakin University, Australia, where she leads a Masters’ specialization in AM.

Read the full bio and published works of Professor Jennifer Loy or the research center where she is active: Deakin Digital Design and Engineering Centre (3DEC).

If you are interested in the rest of the series, please visit the College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech page for the Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series for Spring 2021.

Save The Dates: 3D Printing Experts Join TTU Spring 2021 Lecture Series

The College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech is organizing its eleventh Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series for Spring 2021. Professors and speakers from around the world join Dr. Ismail Fidan and his team to share what they are learning about 3D printing in the real world.

The web-based presentations are shared via the free Zoom platform. On the dates listed, simply visit this Zoom URL ( here it is in plain text should the link not work correctly: tntech.zoom.us/j/432789883 ) at 11am Central Standard Time and you can listen in to the 30-minute lecture/discussion. Mark your calendars for one or all of these excellent presentations.

TTU Spring 2021 Lecture Series with Jennifer Loy

Thursday, February 18

3D Printing Product Development Decisions

Presented by Jennifer Loy, Ph.D., Professor of Additive Manufacturing, School of Engineering Deakin University, Australia


TTU Spring 2021 Lecture Series with Patrick Pradel

Thursday, March 11

The Current State of Design for AM Education

Presented by Patrick Pradel, Ph.D., Lecturer in Product Industrial User-Centerd Design Loughborough University, United Kingdom


TTU Spring 2021 Lecture Series _Gaffar Gailani

Thursday, April 1

The Challenges of Additive Manufacturing in Medical Devices

Presented by Gaffar Gailani, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center of Medical Devices and Additive Manufacturing, New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

TTU Spring 2021 Lecture Series with Antti Jarvenpaa

Thursday, April 22

Fatigue Behavior of Additively Manufactured Steel

Presented by Antti Jarvenpaa, Ph.D., Research Director of Future Manufacturing Technologies University of Oulu, Finland

Access the full archive of past additive manufacturing webinars.

The Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series is partially funded by the NSF Award 1601587, “AM-WATCH: Additive Manufacturing-Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub.

Additive Manufacturing Certificate Workshop For NC3 And More

In its third virtual symposium on Additive Manufacturing (AM), the NSF-funded “Developing Resources for Enhancing Additive Manufacturing (DREAM)” project at Chippewa Valley Technical College, will focus on how you can earn an Additive Manufacturing certificate.

Registration information is below.

The tentative agenda shows that participants in this half day event will learn more about how to get an AM certification with speakers sharing about the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate – Additive Manufacturing (CSWA-AM), as well as Dremel and NC3 Certs.

9:00 – 9:15     Introduction
9:15 – 9:30    DREAM Website – Resources
9:30 – 9:50    How to get AM certification
9:50 – 10:00     Break
10:00 – 10:30   SolidWorks – CSWA-AM
10:30 – 10:50   Kahoot Activity
10:50 – 11:00    Break
11:00 – 11:20   New Achievements in 3D Printing Certification
11:20 – 11:45   Dremel and NC3 Certificates
11:45 – 12:00   Filling out the Survey

Additive Manufacturing Certificates

Most people within the industry use the term “additive manufacturing” interchangeably with 3D Printing (although the latter is more popular and used widely in student and professional discussions). Think of an additive manufacturing certificate as a mini “3D printing degree.”

Due to current job and workforce trends, there is a shortage of technicians in almost every technical career specialty in the USA. Educational institutions, particularly 2-year institutions, are working hard and smart to develop new programs for technicians of all types. This workshop will help you get a basic understanding of the training needed to get started in additive manufacturing.

DREAM is hosting the third virtual Symposium on Additive Manufacturing on Friday, February 12th at 9:00 A.M – 12:00 P.M. CT. Supporters include Dassault Systèmes (SolidWorks), Ashley Furniture, Zeiss, and Desktop Metal.

You can find recorded videos of hosted symposia, developed modules, and more by visiting the NSF DREAM Project website. NSF will provide a small stipend for your time (in this workshop symposium) if you are a high school, middle school, or elementary school teacher ($100).

  Register for the Symposium here  

* * * * *

3D Printing Jobs Are Part Of The Future

In November 2020, MatEdU News (our sister publication focused on Materials Education and Materials Science), published a story about the second AM symposium organized by DREAM (NSF Award #1902501). You can read about it here: Chippewa Valley Technical College Offers Additive Manufacturing Symposium.

Advanced Technological Education (ATE) is a core part of our work here at AM News and we encourage you to visit some of our other recent posts about training and degree programs to help you learn about the perfect job or career path and educational programs that will get you there. Take a look at this lecture series: Digging Deep with Online 3D Printing Lectures.


Digging Deep With Online 3D Printing Lectures

Screenshot of TTU Additive Manufacturing YouTube Channel
Tennessee Tech University YouTube Channel Featuring the Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series since 2016.

The College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech recently completed its well-known Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series for Fall 2020. Under Dr. Ismail Fidan and his team, four experts — from nearby Somerset Community College in Kentucky to institutions spanning the globe in New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands — presented this semester on advanced Additive Manufacturing topics.

With 45 lectures recorded since the Spring semester of 2016, there is a range and depth available for just about anyone interested in learning about Additive Manufacturing. We wrote about the Tennessee Tech Announces Fall 2020 Additive Manufacturing Lecture Series as the school year got started. Despite COVID-19 shifting the world into online classrooms, Dr. Fidan has been using this virtual method, via Zoom, since the start of the program. One could definitely say he is an early adopter and visionary for making learning accessible and increasing TTU’s Engineering student access to world-renowned experts.

Early in 2020, the team decided to launch a YouTube channel as a way to share all of these lectures to an even wider audience. You can access the full Additively Innovative Lecture Series Archive, but we list out the titles below so that you can get an idea of the topic and niche diversity. On the archive page, each title takes you directly to the YouTube video. Perusing the list on the YouTube channel is not as straightforward, in this editor’s opinion, and so your time may be better spent picking from the list of video links from the archive directly.

Again, Bravo to the TTU team and Dr. Fidan for a semester filled with knowledge sharing and deeper insights into what makes Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing) useful, valuable, and world changing.

**Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to their new YouTube channel.

To the Archives!:

Fall 2020 Lectures (Please note these lectures may not all be uploaded to YouTube yet)

      • Mass Production and Decision Making with Low Cost Additive Manufacturing for Institutions and Small Businesses
      • Design for AM: The Key to the Industrialization of AM
      • New Product Development for AM: Methods and Tools
      • Machine Learning in AM

Spring 2020 Lectures

      • New Functionalities for Metal AM by Embedded Intelligence, Puukko Pasi, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Ltd.
      • A Holistic Approach to Achieving the Best Possible Component Quality for AM Architectures for Vat Photopolymer and Laser Powder Bed Fusion Systems, David Bue Pedersen, Technical University of Denmark
      • Additive Manufacturing with High Temperature Polymers, Oana Ghita, University of Exeter
      • From 3D Printing to Digital Manufacturing, Wenchao Zhou, University of Arkansas

Fall 2019 Lectures

      • Generative Design Will Change the Future of Manufacturing, Shashi Jain, Intel Corporation
      • Sustaining Accessibility for Kids’ Creativity with Additive Manufacturing, Pisut Koomsap, Asian Institute of Technology
      • Design and Additive Manufacturing of Porous Titanium Scaffolds for Optimum Cell Viability in Bone Tissue Engineering, Bingbing Li, California State University
      • FDM-based Metal Additive Manufacturing, Haijun Gong, Georgia Southern University

Spring 2019 Lectures

      • The Phantom Hole Technique, Improving Structural Performance in FFF/FDM 3D Printed Products, Eric Wooldridge, Somerset Community College
      • Understanding Powder Bed Additive Manufacturing, Josh Dennis, EOS North America
      • Preparing Your Model for 3D Printing, Adam Wills, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville
      • Project iGen: Using Additive Manufacturing for Service Learning, Amy Fricks, DeKalb County High School

Fall 2018 Lectures

      • Functionally Graded Additive Manufacturing, Eujin Pei, Brunel University
      • Design for Additive Manufacturing: The Key to the Industrial Adoption of Additive Manufacturing, Olaf Diegel, Lund University
      • Where’s my Spare Part? Changing Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul through Additive Manufacturing, Brett Conner, Youngstown State University
      • Integrating Additive Manufacturing into CAD Courses, Tom Singer, Sinclair Community College

Spring 2018 Lectures

      • Dental 3-D Printing Overview, Frank Alifui-Segbaya, Griffith University
      • AM Research and Applications for Real World Production and Impact, Eric Wooldridge, Somerset Community College
      • Free and Easy Software for Designing for 3-D Printing, Tim Gornet, Rapid Prototyping Center, University of Louisville
      • Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing: Enabling 10-Meter Parts, Filomeno Martina, Welding Engineering and Laser Processing Center, Cranfield University

Fall 2017 Lectures

      • Next Generation Manufacturing: Professional and Technical Skills for the 21st Century Workforce, Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Center for Next Generation Manufacturing
      • Using 3-D Printed Parts to Couple Festo Didatic’s MecLab Stations in an Assembly Process, Khalid Tantawi, Department of Career Readiness-Mechatronics, Motlow State Community College
      • 3-D Printing, Design Thinking, and the Entrepreneurial Mindset, Phan Tran, Center for Architecture, Design, and Engineering, Lake Washington Institute of Technology
      • Workflow of the Additive Manufacturing Process, Kyle Bates-Green, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education

Spring 2017 Lectures

      • Bioprinting and Tissue Engineering, Yunzhi Peter Yang, Medical Scholar Program in Bioengineering Scholarly Concentration, Stanford University
      • Making It Work, Marilyn Barger, NSF Florida Advanced Technological Education Center, Hillsborough Community College
      • Additive Manufacturing: Instrumental Systems in Research, Education, and Service, Bahram Asiabanpour, Ingram School of Engineering at Texas State University
      • A Technique for Quick Introduction of 3-D Design and Prototyping, Hugh Jack, School of Engineering and Technology, Western Carolina University

Fall 2016 Lectures

      • Marketing Your Maker Business, TJ McCue
      • Content and Curriculum Development Efforts in 3-D Printing, Jesse Roitenbert, Stratasys
      • The Development of a Framework for 3-D Printing, Casting, & Entrepreneurship, Jay Watson, Cookeville High School
      • 3-D Printed Joints and Connectors for Assemblies, Nick Russell and Jacob Floyd, Tennessee Tech University

Spring 2016 Lectures

      • Mel Cossette and Robin Ballard, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education
      • 3-D Printing – Future of Manufacturing: The 4th Wave of Human Civilization, Wenchao Zhou, University of Arkansas
      • Additive Manufacturing at the University of Waterloo, Ehsan Toyserkani, University of Waterloo
      • Opportunities in Additive Manufacturing, Amy Elliott, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
      • AM/3DP Point-Counterpoint: A Look at AM’s Place Among the Headlines, Business, and Industry, Peter Yang, Stanford University
      • Additive Manufacturing as a Force for Innovation, Ian Campbell, Loughborough University
      • Perspectives on Additive Manufacturing, Tim Caffrey, Wohlers Associates
      • History of Additive Manufacturing, David Bourell, University of Texas at Austin
      • Additive Manufacturing Today and in the Future, Terry Wohlers, Wohlers Associates