The Yeehaw Wand at first glance might seem like yet another “3D printing pen”, but it’s nothing of the sort.
I’ve been down on 3D printing pens lately for the simple reason that they are not “3D printing” at all. They are a manually operated device, just like any other hand tool for making. Calling them “3D printing” is like saying a hand power router is a “CNC mill”. Thus I’ve been skeptical of the countless submissions to this publication billed as “3D printing pens”.
But then we bumped into the Yeehaw Wand, whose name suggests it is yet another 3D printing pen. But upon further examination, it is quite different. It is actually a unique AR-powered 3D input device, more akin to a 3D mouse than a 3D printing pen.
What does it do? It’s a handheld wireless device, wand shaped, which acts as a 3D “cursor” for 3D sculpting. The bulk of the activity takes place on your tablet or smartphone, which is propped up nearby.
As you move the Wand through 3D space, the 3D sculpting software on screen acts appropriately. While there’s no “force feedback”, it does provide an inexpensive way to perform 3D model development in a more intuitive manner than traditional 2D systems.
The Wand acts in conjunction with a circular “plate” that’s positioned motionless underneath the wand. What’s being acted upon are the second-by-second distance and angle changes between the Wand and the plate, as the system operates through a Bluetooth connection.
What’s even more fun is that the background of the workspace shown on the sculpting window is actually a view from a front camera, so the model being developed appears as if it was floating in front of you. That’s AR, or augmented reality!
Another fun – and essential – feature is how you view the model. As you might imagine, a static view won’t help much if you have to work on the “far side” of the 3D model. To account for this you are allowed to rotate – or even pick up and turn – the plate. The developing 3D model acts as if it is pinned to the plate in the AR view, rotating or shifting as controlled.
To provide additional input to the system you must hit some controls on the tablet’s touch screen. The Wand is basically for 3D sculpting operations
When done it’s possible to 3D print the results, if you have access to a 3D printer or service. The company also bundles in their own delta-style desktop 3D printer as an option for only USD$438.
The Yeehaw Wand is now available for order on Indiegogo, where you can pick up a version that works for both Android and iOS devices as low as USD$129. That’s in the range of, or even lower than, some 3D mouse options. There are a number of other options available to make life with the Yeehaw Wand easier, including a tablet stand, for example.
This could be a fun and inexpensive way to get children involved in 3D design and printing, but it may be not as useful for those doing CAD design, where precision is required. Also it may be difficult to work for very long periods holding the Wand in mid-air.
But this is certainly a very different approach to 3D design.