You really have to hand it to Japan, just when you think that you’ve seen the strangest thing that they have to offer, they go ahead and top themselves with something even stranger. Take this amazing new 3D printing foam pen that swaps melted plastic for soap bubbles. It seems like the type of thing that you would buy, use once and then think to yourself ‘why on Earth did I buy a pen that 3D prints with soap?’. But I’ll be honest, I’m still really tempted to pick one of these things up. If only because it looks easier to use than a regular 3D printing pen, and I’m a sucker for any gizmo that makes me feel smart when I figure out how to use it quickly.
The Awamoko 3D Foam Pen, from Japanese toy manufacturer Shine, is clearly made for children, but considering foam is such a forgiving sculpting medium, it’s kind of perfect for the artistically impaired. The pen uses the same foaming hand soap that you find in public restrooms, so any mess that you make is going to be halfway cleaned up while you’re making it. There is no heating element like with standard 3D printing pens, so it is perfectly safe for anyone to use, even small children. And users don’t have to do anything to make the pen extrude foam, just press the button and the foam starts squirting out at a slow enough pace for you to start building up layers for a large soapy object.
The foam pen comes with a ton of accessories so you can actually do some pretty serious foam sculpting. There are two different sized printing nozzles and three stamp extruders that produce three-dimensional foam shapes like a smiley face or a flower. The pen also comes with a sculpting spatula, so if you make any 3D printed soap bubble errors they can easily be fixed. The foam sculptures are meant to be printed on some flat, sponge material that comes with the pen, presumably because it won’t absorb the water or soap as quickly.
And if all that you can manage to do with the foam pen is print big, gloopy mounds of soap, don’t worry — you can decorate them with cute faces, ears and various cutesy accessories so they will start to resemble cute animals. It seems that the pen will also include 3D animal shape forms that can be used as a cheat when sculpting animals. Just print the foam around the form, and then add the eyes, ears and tails. Based on their website, Awamoko plans to sell several different sets of the forms in shapes that include various animals from the zoo, house pets, an aquarium and even some cool dinosaurs.
Here is a video (entirely in Japanese) of two young Japanese kids learning how to use the pen in a matter of minutes:
You can actually buy your own Awamoko 3D Foam Pen if you live in North America from Japan Trend Shop for only $39. Despite the fact that the pen prints out soap, this is not a bath toy and should not be submerged in water. The foam pen is set to be released on July 15th, though Japan Trend Shop is currently accepting pre-orders. Knowing Japan, this pen is going to be a huge hit and I expect to see televised foam 3D printing competitions by the end of the year. Are you thinking about trying this out? Discuss over in the 3D Foam Pen forum at 3DPB.com.