Pardon me if this has been covered on the forum before, but I did a search and don't see anything about it. I've become curious about 3D pens, particular using the flexible filaments, and I've wondered if anybody has used them in puppet creation. It seems like there might be a lot of potential. Here's a video where a gent uses flexible filaments to make a seahorse, and at the end it looks very flexible indeed.

I've also seen video where people use a more matte filament, and others where they file down pieces for a smoother texture. Here's a video where somebody makes a pretty impressive Spongebob using a 3D pen, although it seems hard rather than flexible.

It has kind of a rough texture, but in a later video the same artist goes back and smooths things down a bit.

Finally, here's a different artist making a life-size Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty, complete with a gross rat-cyborg rig. This video shows an amazing variety of textures, from fur to metal to muscle to pickle. (Although again, this appears to be a hard sculpture and not a flexible one.)

It would seem like this has potential to be good for stuff like puppet hands, where you could make a wire hand and then build it up with the filament instead of having to fuss with latex. Has anybody experimented with this tool?

(A note about my name, in case anybody was going to ask: No, I'm absolutely not a Nazi and I'm not trying to offend anybody. It's just a Monty Python reference that got out of hand. I haven't posted on the board in a while, but long ago I was fairly active here under this name.)

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As a follow-up, here's somebody actually making a stop-motion puppet with a 3D pen, complete with a rather impressive armature

Those pens are interesting and that video is crazy. I'd guess that the armature and puppet made with the pen is more a demo to show off what the pen can do. I think aluminum armature wire and latex, foam, epoxy putty, and sculpy is a cheaper and easier way to make a puppet.  It might be a good tool to have on hand though. If you can afford it you should test it out and report back. 

I got a 3D pen for Christmas, with the intention of making things like tree branches and little props, and although I have not used it much so far, it looks to be very good for that. I did some nice rough branches for the inside of a thatched roof, and it was quick to do.

But the filament comes out a bit blobbily - might be something to do with the temperature - so the surfaces tend to be quite rough. It is possible to remelt the filament either with the end of the pen or with a hot air gun, but I think smoothness might come down to experience and deftness in use.

Not sure about using it for actual puppets. I don't think finger joints would be easy as the plastic extrudes quite fast so you would have a big blob to work, and this might make it impossible to do little independent joints. I like using Polymorph, another thermo-plastic for creating the bones around wire, and this can be fairly easily fiddled with by heating it with a hot air gun. It has the advantage of going clear once it is hot, so you can see when it is workable. Best to have a bowl of water to dip your fingers into!

And a tip for making the palms of hands that someone posted on SMA recently is to use hot glue, which one can think of as a softer version of Polymorph, so it allows a bit of flexibility in the hand. Not sure that 3D pen filament would be a good substitute for either of these uses- but then people keep coming up with novel ways to use the stuff. I love the way the video shows collars being formed around a metal tube. Another handy tip!

Simon, in the videos I've seen they talk about the pen point being adjustable, so you can get thicker or thinner streams of filament and do more detail. Does your pen have this capability? Also, are you using flexible filament? In some of the videos they make extremely thin, tiny things, and that gives me hope that puppet hands might be doable.

Bristolious, while I can afford the pen I don't want to buy if it's not going to work for what I want. My hope was that other people here had already tried it and they could tell us about their experiences.

Hi there. The pen I have, which is not the most basic, has an adjustment for flow, so the plastic extrudes faster or slower. Haven't played with this yet, but I expect it will afford more control.

The filament I am using is PLA, and this is a bit flexible, but it does not seem intended to be bendy. You might be able to make the finger bones with it, perhaps inserting a piece of metal where you need a break, but I don't think covering a piece of wire with this plastic will give a finger that can bend. It is possible that there might be softer filaments available, but I have just got the standard stuff.

Simon, the filament you have doesn't call itself "flexible," does it? I think there are different brands of filament and some of them are specifically flexible. My hope is that that stuff could be used for making hands and other bendy parts. It surprises me that this doesn't seem to be something  anybody on the board has tried before!

The pen instructions just mention PLA and ABS as the plastics it can melt and extrude. The filament does not describe itself as flexible, just 1.75mm PLA. The big reel I bought is the same flexibility as the sample stuff that came with the pen. If you bend it a lot of times in the same place, it fatigues and breaks.

But if you can find some plastic that is specifically designed to be flexible, that may be better. I just have the standard stuff.

Here's a video where an artist is indeed making a poseable figure using a 3D pen. Starting around the 3:30 mark you can see them build a working armature with filaments. Whether this would stand up to the rigors of animation, I can't say.

Interesting video, but to me it falls into the category of just because it is possible, would you want to do it that way? It looks like sculpting with a soldering iron, and there are easier ways to get a better finish, such as Sculpey. The joints are floppy and cannot be tensioned, so would not be any use for animating, although they might be good for props such as a cart. 

It reminds me that the pen is sitting there not getting a lot of use, so perhaps I will get it out and do a bit more. Incidentally I found that heating with a hot air gun and then working with a spatula can be useful, but it is all rather hot and messy!

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