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3D printing could be about to get even cooler

Monday, 9 Sep 2013 | 2:09 AM ET
3Doodler

3-D printing - when a product is created layer by layer - may be the coolest disruptive technology around for some, but the technology has had its fair share of controversial headlines after the manufacture of firearms and even claims that it could give people cancer.

But one tech startup is hoping to put the fun back into stereolithography, allowing users to draw - in the air.

3Doodler is a new 3D printing pen you can hold in your hand to draw upwards. The company says you can literally "lift your imagination off the page." It's due for release in the next two weeks and is set to be priced at $99.

"Our orders are currently going out globally to almost 30,000 people, and our backers come from all over the world," a spokesperson for the company told CNBC.

(Read More: Jaw-dropping things you can make with 3-D printers)

Using the same plastic used by many 3D printers, the pen draws heats and extrudes the material which quickly cools and solidifies into a strong stable structure. You can create simplistic patterns or bigger objects like mock-ups of the Eiffel Tower.

The new device certainly created a buzz at the 2013 IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) Trade Fair. But online it has received major backing.

After originally asking for just $30,000 back in February on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, it managed to raise staggering $2.4 million in 34 days, 7,813 percent of its initial goal.

"The idea for 3Doodler actually came from 3D printing on a 'traditional' 3D printer and it made a mistake," the company told CNBC.

"The wish was to just reach out, fix the mistake, and then let it continue printing. It was this thought that we realized we actually could make it into a pen!"

(Read More: From teeth aligners to engine parts, 3-D printing businessgrows)

Analysts at financial services firm ConvergEx have recently investigated the rising popularity of crowdfunding, which is the collective effort of individuals to network online and pool their money behind a project.

Popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter had more than 2.24 million people pledge money in 2012, a 134 percent increase from the year before. A total of $319,786,629 was raised (a 221 percent jump from 2011) and successfully funded 18,109 projects.

Crowdfunding manages to minimize a significant barrier of high startup costs and also enhances the likelihood for disruptive technologies to find early-adopter customers, ConvergEx said.

The latest, greatest craze is undoubtedly 3D printing, it said, adding that six of the top 13 "most funded" projects on Kickstarter are 3D printers of some variety, including 3Doodler.

3D printing made easy?
3D printing could change the face of American manufacturing. CNBC's Mary Thompson is following the story at 3D Systems' headquarters in Rock Hill, SC.

(Read More: The 'gold rush' for 3-D printing patents)

3-D printing - creating three-dimensional solid objects from digital models - is gathering momentum and is transforming everything from medicine to home goods. Printers that once cost $30,000 now are priced closer to $1,000 and have the potential to rewrite the rules of global manufacturing.

The market for 3-D printing was estimated at about $1.7 billion in 2011 and could hit $6.5 billion by 2019, according to research firm Wohlers Associates.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81

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  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

  • Cadie Thompson is a tech reporter for the Enterprise Team for CNBC.com.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.

  • Jon Fortt is an on-air editor. He covers the companies, start-ups, and trends that are driving innovation in the industry.

  • Lipton is CNBC's technology correspondent, working from CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau.

  • Mark is CNBC's Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bureau Chief covering technology and digital media.