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The designer

“Have you got a pen I can borrow?” Oh, how many times we ask that question. And if you make this request of Kaecee Fitzgerald, you may find quite the surprise in your hand, in the form of a 3D printed work of art—and mind you, this is not the type of writing utensil you ‘accidentally’ lift and take home with you for then scrawling out grocery lists and leaving notes for the family. No, these are not casual pens.

An Australian graphic and product designer, Fitzgerald wanted to see if she could translate her love for a good old fashioned quill pen into 3D print—in a functional and very aesthetically pleasing manner. Lucky to have had experience in working for a 3D printing company, she had the knowledge to begin experimenting, and in the end has produced what would definitely be considered completely and totally inimitable—and delightful.

“I’ve always loved using glass quill pens for sketching in ink; they have a grace and ease of drawing that makes them such a joy to use,” said Fitzgerald. “I wanted to see if I could duplicate that with a 3D printed item. I loved being able to substitute the smooth surface and color of the glass with the complexity and material range that 3D printing offers. Working out the dynamics of how to model a functional pen nib that would retain ink when dipped into a pot was challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.”

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The Twisted Spine’ 3D printed pen

The designer ended up making a small product line of five 3D printed pens, alternating in metals such as brass and bronze. Due to her fairly extensive knowledge in digital design, Fitzgerald was able to take her choice of the software she thought would work best, experimenting with Solidworks, 3DS Max and Mudbox, along with a few different web-based file fixers.

“I feel very restricted using a single program when designing; it’s either everything at my disposal, or nothing. My general workflow is that I’ll sit with a glass of wine and wait for inspiration to strike, and when that doesn’t happen (which is common), I’ll sketch until something useful comes up. I never model without sketching out my ideas first.”

In designing a variety of pieces—all with undeniable flair—Fitzgerald was able to make use of all the benefits 3D printing offers such as having latitude in design and customization, affordability in manufacturing, and being able to achieve a high level of detail even in more complex work.

“I like that 3D printing allows designers to add another string in their bow as they explore new ways to express themselves, because it gives you the freedom to create shapes that would have otherwise been impossible to produce with more traditional techniques. I enjoy weird aesthetics and complex geometry, so to combine the two in the pen designs through the use of 3D printing was a genuine treat.”

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‘The Vectal Mandela’

These really are a treat! And you’d get a double-take no matter where you are, writing with one of these bad boys. The five pens are as follows:

  • The Twisted Spine Pen – Fitzgerald promises this will be a hit with all of your weirder friends. You can turn it and maneuver until indeed you find the most comfortable grip with the 3D printed brass pen, and “then strap yourself in for an entirely unique writing experience with this twisted anomaly as your guide.”
  • The Pyramid within a Pyramid Pen – fabricated in bold bronze, Fitzgerald’s goal was for this 3D printed pen to be as intriguing as the pyramids themselves, guiding you as you navigate the terrain of writing on “the perilous territory of any blank sheet of paper.”
  • The Malstrom Pen- this is another 3D printed brass beauty, fluid and lovely in design. Fitzgerald points out that it’s much stronger than it looks, and was made with both ergonomics and a soft grip in mind for the user. She states that she fabricated this particular pen with “five different coil sets spun around one another to create a pen reminiscent of a vortex.”
  • The Vectal Mandala Pen – 3D printed in bronze, the artist wanted to offer something intricate, delicate, and showing off the concept of the abstract and three-dimensional Mandala, which is a symbol or figure that represents the universe for Hindus and Buddhists.
  • The Caged Geometry Pen – 3D printed in bronze, this design is just a perfect composition from top to bottom, fluid and intricate in shape. “This pen was designed with attention to interior detail that is to be admired, but is forever out of reach,” states Fitzgerald, who in using the term ‘caged architecture’ to describe this is spot on.
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‘The Malstrom’

All of Fitzgerald’s designs are for sale on i.materialise, where you can visit her shop, The Curiosities Cabinet, and peruse the pens, which retail in prices ranging from $60-90.

“Functionality plays a huge role in my praxis, and it’s my heartfelt wish that people find a little thrill through interacting with my work,” says Fitzgerald. “So, cut loose and enjoy!”

What do you think of these pens? Discuss in the 3D Printed Quill Pen forum over at 3DPB.com.

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‘The Pyramid within a Pyramid’

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‘Caged Geometry’

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