3D Pen Working Surfaces

Cartons (food): Repurpose those cereal boxes and food cartons. PLA may pull up some surface material upon removal. Thin lines work better. Both ABS and PLA work very well on the shiny, printed side.

Cellophane: Both ABS & PLA need a secure anchor. Expect the filament to “grip” cellophane as it cools. Decent working surface for one time use.

Chipboard: ABS won’t stick. PLA may pull up some surface material if allowed to cool completely.

Omnigrid Quilter Ruler (12″x12″): Believe it or not, both ABS and PLA work well with this transparent, acrylic surface. Both ABS and PLA adhere too much to regular acrylic (try semi-permanent actually). Omnigrid must coat their rulers with something special because both filament enjoy a healthy grip and release with this working surface. The only downside is that the rulers are cluttered with all the markings. Makes it difficult to see through to stencils.

Paper: Copy paper, wrapping paper, etc. Both ABS & PLA will release but expect some surface material to come up too. When using PLA, work in small sections and remove before it cools entirely.

Transparency Film: I know of one 3D pen artist who uses transparency film as her work surface. I suspect she’s using ABS.  PLA may prove to be too sticky, so approach with caution.

Wood: PLA will anchor with a secure anchor point.  ABS slides right off.

3D Pen Art Surfaces

Balloons: Not kidding. No, the heat won’t pop the balloon. Give it a try if you’re a doubter.

Canvas: ABS won’t adhere to canvas, but PLA loves it. Use your 3D pen in a mixed media project to add some texture.

Chipboard: Don’t bother using ABS. PLA anchors well enough for painted chipboard to be a good art surface. It will lift with encouragement. Don’t pick at it.

Fabric: I’ve tested cotton, felt, and fleece. PLA will stick. Laundering not recommended.

Foam Board: PLA sticks better than ABS. Foamboard is my favorite art surface. Easy to embellish, cut to size, and available in a variety of colors.

PVC: Don’t bother with PLA; it’ll slide right off.  Interestingly, ABS will form a permanent bond with PVC, making it a fabulous art surface. It also comes in many diameters and lengths.

Smoothfoam: Both ABS and PLA will slightly melt the smoothfoam surface, so move more quickly. It ends up “nesting” in the surface.

3D Pen Shaping Surfaces & Tools

Aluminum:  ABS slides off. Not an ideal shaping or working surface for PLA either, but it’s possible get something done working in small sections.

Balloons: If using as a shaping surface, be aware that removing filament can be time consuming.

Dowel Rods: Wrap some painter’s tape around one end to use as an anchor point for the filament. Use your 3D pen to wrap either ABS or PLA around the dowel rod to create spirals.

Ping Pong Balls: On a whim, I used my 3D pen on a ping pong ball. Both ABS and PLA stick, but ABS release better.  Use as a round base.

Frosted Glass: Both ABS and PLA will “grip” long enough to work in small sections. Use frosted ornaments or votives to produce specific shapes.


Clear / Glossy: ABS needs a secure anchor and steady movement, will lift a bit as you work, but removes easily. PLA loves clear, glossy tape. It’ll stick to it well enough to accomplish detailed work, then easily remove once cool. Use wide shipping tape to cover large surfaces or stencils. Narrow office-type tape works well when you want to cover small surfaces (funnels, balls, etc.)

Masking Tape: Both ABS and PLA grip masking tape long enough to use as a working or shaping surface. PLA works better, however. ABS needs constant movement.

Painter’s Tape: Get the rough stuff. Smooth, satiny painter’s tape doesn’t work nearly as well. Use the narrow tape for smaller items and the wider tape to cover a large, flat working surface. As usual, PLA has better stick. ABS may need constant movement.


BAND-AIDS®: Filament is hot. As a precautionary measure, use BAND-AIDS®on your thumb and pointer if you can’t help using your fingers.

Dowel Rods: Great for shaping filament mid-air and also hollowing out cylinder shapes.

Heat Gun: Comes in handy when it’s time to quickly melt away all those stringy cobwebs. If you’ve spent any amount of time with a 3D pen, you know what I’m talking about.

A heat gun may also be used to help attach two shapes together. I’m not talking on a small scale because a heat gun doesn’t focus the heat enough to be very precise. Say you have a bunch of circles you’d like to arrange. Instead of glueing or using more filament, layer than how you want and use a heat gun.

Palette Knives: Filament is sticky. You may need more than your fingernails to remove it from your working surface in one piece. Not any palette knife will do. Thicker knives aren’t as effective as the thin, lightweight ones, at gently lifting up the delicate, plastic creations.

Needle Nose Pliers: These come in handy when you need a secure hold but your fingers are just too clunky.

Wire cutters: After the 3D pen and filament, wire cutters should be the next thing you buy. You’ll be snipping the filament nonstop and scissors just don’t cut it (pun intended). No need to buy big, bulky wire cutters you’d find in someone’s garage. Get the smaller, jewelry size ones.


Mini LED Bulbs (warm)

Mini LED Bulbs (cool)