ISTE 2015: Geeking Out with 3Doodler

3Doodler was at the ISTE 2015 Vendor Expo showing off their newest 3D pen the 3Doodler 2.0. There were several artists at the booth lazily making models out of plastic. Some impressive hand drawn creations were on display.

 I have an original 3Doodler and use it for MakerEd professional development and to demonstrate 3D printing concepts. The pen is essentially a hot end and extruder from a 3D printer in a handheld housing. My kids loved using the original 3Doodler but it was always temperamental. I’ve taken the original apart and wasn’t that impressed with the robustness of the extruder gear.

I backed the Kickstarter of the 3Doodler 2.0 hoping for a more functional device. The 3Doodler 2.0 arrived a few weeks before ISTE 2015 but the filament fed slowly or jammed. I was certainly disappointed. But 3Doodler has been great about communication during the Kickstarter and  providing support via Twitter. One of the emails gave troubleshooting instructions and the most important point, 3Doodler provides repair tools in the box to clear filament, remove the nozzle, replace the access hatch & adjust the operating temp. 3Doodler trusts the customers to be able to understand & fix their own device. To me, this is one of the things I look for in my MakerEd tools. I followed the instructions & my pen started operating like it should. I noticed the extruder gear mechanism has also been revamped. The kids in my makerspace like the new lighter design and continuous flow option.

The only problem with my repair was that the access hatch stuck out a little bit and I wasn’t sure if I had seated it correctly. I brought my pen to the ISTE 2015 3Doodler booth for a quick checkup. The booth staffer seemed a little confused but said ‘the guy’ that could fix it was out and would be back in an hour. And oh yeah, ‘the guy’ was one of the co-founders of the company.

What!? Kind of like Jonny Ives working a Genius Bar or Bill Gates helping install Window updates.

I came back later and this is where it gets amazing. Max Bogue the co-founder of 3Doodler super charged my pen. As he checked the hatch, he pointed out improvements they are making on the current 2.0. He said I had an older hatch and replaced it. They now fold the metal part differently and round corners on the attachment piece. Max updated the firmware to have a broader range of adjustable temperature and more retraction. The whole time he was geeking out about his product. The good features and the problems users have and how they were addressing them. He even replaced my buttons with a new design that provide tactile and visual icons showing fast and slow. Max was talking to me like a fellow maker and not a customer.

 The only negative was while this was happening, a teacher asked the booth artist to try the 3Doodler and was told no. I’m sure this is some sort of liability thing but made me sad that teachers couldn’t go hands on at the booth.

Max was everything I look for in someone providing me MakerEd gear. He was knowledgable, passionate, technical and truthful. Trusting his customers to really understand and maintain their own equipment. Trusting his customer enough to point out issues and how they are being improved. Max Bogue is one of my newest maker heroes.

*Check out interview w/ Max Bogue in the latest issue of Make magazine.

*Wasn’t impressed with gold 3Doodler on the Kickstarter but it looks very sharp in person.