My daughter had been asking for this for months for her 8th birthday. I had read all the reviews on Amazon, so I decided to buy it from our craft store in case I needed to return/exchange it quickly. When we first tried it, I thought for sure it was broken and would need to go back. However, after some fiddling around with it and watching a lot of online videos, we figured it out. Now, she loves it and can't wait to come home from school to make things (and while she is at school I play around with it too). I would give it 5 stars but the instructions that come with it are pretty bad, and there is a large learning curve. But now, even my 5 year old can use it with supervision. Here is what I discovered that hopefully will help others:
1. A new strand will take about 30 seconds after inserting before it starts flowing (after the LED changes to blue or green). The plastic needs to melt before it will start to feed. You may need to push in and turn it a bit to get it to grab. Be very patient. If you hear some crackling noises that's a good thing.
2. There is a fan noise and a mechanical drive noise. These two noises sound very similar (high pitch hum). When we first started using it, I thought the pen was stuck in continuous mode because we couldn’t get it to shut off. However, when in normal mode and you stop pressing the flow button the fan noise will continue for about 5 seconds even tho the plastic flow has stopped. This took us awhile to figure out.
3. Have small tweezers and a straight pin handy. I have to take it apart and clean it a lot. The access cover is easy to remove once you get the hang of it and if it ever seems like it’s not working, there is probably a small bit of dried up plastic in the gears. I take the access cover off a lot. It only takes about a minute to clear everything out once you know what you are doing and what to look for.
4. The pen has to be hot to remove the nozzle. The nozzle can be unclogged (while hot) with a straight pin.
5. If a strand gets too short you cannot reverse it back out if you are done and you have to use up the rest of that strand. Use a new strand to measure how deep the old strand is inside the pen. If it is too short to reach the logo on the outside of the pen, it is too short to retract and you have to use it up. In a pinch, if you don’t want to use it or it gets stuck, you can remove the access panel and/or nozzle, and use the cleaning rod to push it out backwards.
6. When a strand starts getting short and you want to use a new strand, you have to push the new strand in a little to get it to catch in the drive. The drive mechanism is very short so the new strand won’t automatically feed at first.
7. Don’t leave plastic in the pen when you are not using it. Clean it out thoroughly after each use. It only takes about a minute to do.
8. If you are going to switch from ABS to PLA, make sure the pen is totally clear of the ABS first. ABS requires a higher temperature than PLA, so if there is still ABS in the pen it will clog it up if it is on the PLA setting.
CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.