Folding An Off-The-Shelf 3D Printer

Most 3D printers don’t take up a lot of space, but they can be pretty bulky and awkward to travel with. [Jón Schone] needed a compact folding 3D printer for a secret project on his YouTube channel ProperPrinting, so he decided to modify a Creality Ender 3 Pro to achieve this.

Starting with a brand new Ender 3 Pro, and his first steps were to move the display and power supply unit into the bottom frame to make space for the folding top frame. For the folding mechanism, he settled on a four bar linkage that allows the vertical frame to translate to the front of the printer as it folds down, which lets it become a really compact package with minimal wasted space. The joints consist of fitting 3D printed in carbon fibre reinforced nylon, with bolts for shafts. The entire mechanism is made adjustable for fine-tuning by using threaded rod and sliding mounting points on the extruded frame. Small brackets on each side of the frame allows the printer to snap securely into both its upright and folded positions.

All in all we think this is well-designed and beautifully executed hack, enough to make us really want to build one for ourselves. It will remain to be seen if any slop develops with repeated folding and use, especially at the snap-in end stops, but that should still be an easy fix if it happens.

We’ve previously featured [Jón]’s custom 3D printed D-sub connectors, also for his Ender 3. Also check out another folding printer, the X-printer.

14 thoughts on “Folding An Off-The-Shelf 3D Printer

  1. I’m going to be that guy, and ask…why?

    The Ender 3’s entire gantry structure is secured to the base by a total of 4 screws. How often are you moving this thing that it warrants all the work of modifying it to fold, rather than just keeping a hex key with it?

      1. FTFY:

        He needs content for his channel.

        Don’t get me wrong, from a mechanical perspective, the mechanism itself looks like it works well enough, but folding a 3D printer inherently compromises it’s rigidity, which negatively effects it’s performance.

        Just unfortunate when producing *some* content takes priority over producing useful or innovative content. I bet a video about making square tires for a car would get a shit ton of views. Totally stupid and useless… but that would almost guarantee it’d be a hit.

    1. It’s very useful if you need to carry a printer from place to place. Or to have a printer that’s easily stored away when not actually printing, yet easy to set up at a moment’s notice. Not everyone has infinite table space.

    2. Well, I am going to be ‘that other guy’. Because he could?
      He took an idea and ran with it. Those are some of my favorite types of hacks.
      Good or bad, success or failure, something new was created. Cheers to that. :)

  2. Considering these types of printers lose squaring when you look at them sideways, its pretty much ‘useless’, however it is still impressive and looks like it was a fun project. There’s always a special place in my heart for over engineered things :)

    1. Maybe not for you, but for me… I have no horizontal space at home to permanently donate to a 3D printer. Folding one and being able to store it but having to set it up each time is much more attractive than having to travel an hour one way to my nearest makerspace.

  3. Because the best thing you can do with an ender 3 is put it in a closet, preferably in the least space possible.

    Well, that’s not exactly true. The best thing you can do is pull a handful of parts and use them for something else. Mine is currently split up into my parts bins and it’s served me better like that than it ever did assembled.

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