66% or better

Fitting a CNC machine, 3D printer, and vinyl cutter in a suitcase

Maker Faire NY is awash with new and interesting computer controlled tools, but the most unusual so far appears to be Popfab, a combination router, 3D printer, and vinyl cutter able to collapse down into a suitcase.

Popfab is the brainchild of [Nadya Peek] and [Ilan Moyer] of the MIT CADLAB. With interchangeable heads for routing PCBs, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting. A conventional machine of this capabilities would have motors all over the place, but [Ilan] used a CoreXY system to make the stepper motors stationary relative to the frame of the machine.

The electronics are standard Printrboard and Pronterface fare, but it’s still a remarkable build that also fits into a suitcase.

Pictures of the machine, the XY system (good luck wrapping your head around that, but I can tell you it relies on the differential movement of the two motors) and the lovely [Nadya] holding up the plastic extrusion head. We’ll get a video up tomorrow. after the break


  1. Andrew says:

    As a person who travels all the time it would be great to have this. I could even showcase 3D printing abroad while sitting in the airport! (If anyone has any other cool ideas I would love to see them posted on https://www.3DHacker.com.)


  2. Hackerspacer says:

    What kind of toleranace can this hold?

  3. xxv says:
  4. Suffles says:

    Such a device interests me.

    Really have been wanting/needing a 3D printer as of late and the idea of one (assuming it has a decent print quality) that can also etch circuit boards fills me with happy :)

  5. Scuffles says:

    Such a device interests me.

    Really have been wanting/needing a 3D printer as of late and the idea of one (assuming it has a decent print quality) that can also etch circuit boards fills me with happy :)

    Edit: hopefully won’t doublepost forgot the C :P

  6. gannon says:

    What’s so hard about the xy drive? Looks like a modified H bot gantry.d
    Nice to see something this portable.

  7. gmcurrie says:

    Not come across that CoreXY/H Bot cartesian setup before – really neat & elegant – the guts from a handful of old inkjets (including, it looks like it, the bronze linear bearings from the printhead carriages) & yr just about in business..

  8. garym53 says:

    Looks impressive but why did the choose a briefcase that takes two people to open it? It doesn’t augur well…

  9. gmcurrie says:

  10. I have a pen plotter from the 70′s that uses the same drive belt layout, except it uses a drive cable instead of a belt.

  11. gmcurrie says:

    Interesting – any pix/links?

    I’m really interested in the old typewriters that employed ’2D’ planar motors (essentially a ‘circular stepper motor ‘flattened out’) and all stuff like that https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=planar++motor+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

  12. Popfab video:

  13. Another PopFab video:

  14. This video shows how fast PopFab is:

  15. And for another take on a portable 3D printer, here is the Ben Heck briefcase printer:

  16. dude says:

    I am wondering why that platform was chosen. Maybe I am not understanding it but doesn’t it limit the useable build space. If the head moved instead of the platform couldn’t you make larger objects? idk. Other than that this is an excellent idea. A portable cnc and 3d printer would be enormously useful to many many people. They should kickstart this thing.

  17. BillyBob says:

    Wow like a 3″x5″ work area…thats amazing. What decal is this gonna cut? A sticker for your hand after you get a shot, better not be using a drag knife because they dont cut small details.

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