Have 3D Printer, Will Travel

We keep hearing that the desktop computer is dying — everyone wants a mobile device like a laptop, a tablet, or a big horkin’ phone. We suppose [eponra] wants the same thing for 3D printers, since he’s provided plans for “flatpack” a portable 3D printer that can fit in a spool box.

As you might imagine, this isn’t going to give you maximum build volume. The printer’s folded down dimensions are 220x210x75mm. The build plate is fairly small at 120x114x144mm. However, it does have a heated bed and an LCD display. One note, though: you do need an external power supply that does not fit in the box. However, [eponra] notes that with an AC-powered bed, it would be possible to get everything in the box.

One reason for the small packing size is that the machine uses a cantilever instead of supporting everything across. This puts a limit on bed size, but does make the machine simple and helps with the packing.

The goal is to have all the 3D printed parts printed by another flatpack. Today, the XY joiner is apparently difficult to print and can’t be printed on an existing flatpack printer, anyway. Other limitations include the lack of a spool holder and several improvements across the various versions (the current version is version 6).

There are several videos of the machine in operation on the project’s main page. It reminds us a lot of a Printrbot Simple, if that printer had been made today. Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen portable printers before, including another one that fits in a filament box, but prints upside down. It made us wonder what’s the smallest FDM printer ever built?

16 thoughts on “Have 3D Printer, Will Travel

  1. I could really see this as a competition for who can design the best 3D printer in a spool box. It would be fun to see what a bit of competitive push would produce.

    As for the project itself, it looks pretty nice. I really like the control panel. My question though is whether or not this could be battery-powered with the right circuitry.

  2. I’d think a SCARA based 3D printer would be an excellent candidate for a printer that fits in a spool box. And with a bit of extra care it can quite easily be designed in such a way that it can also be used for other purposes.

    I’m working on a SCARA design myself but it’s going to be bigger. It’s going to be a 50×50 steel tube with the Nema 17 motors inside and 2x MGN15 (price difference with MGN12 is quite small) bolted to a rotating base. Rails are going to be 550mm long, which also won’t fit in a (regularly sized) spoolbox.

  3. “We keep hearing that the desktop computer is dying.”

    Who are you listening to? Don’t believe all you hear. You are hanging out with the wrong crowd.

    You can have my desktop computer when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.

  4. As an engineering/design exercise it’s pretty good, but I can’t see much of a use scenario that would justify the effort. What would you need to print so badly that you’d need to be able to carry the printer around with you? Are you going to take it on vacation (your significant other is going to LOVE that idea!)? Do you live in your car or in a cupboard under the stairs?

  5. Interesting project. How about a delta bot inside a 5 gallon bucket? In my mind, it all goes in upside down. The bottom of the bucket holds the electronics, the spool, the frame of the delta, and a camera. The build plate is attached to the lid with appropriate insulation. The contacts for the heat are spring pins. The only outside connections are for an extension cord and a USB cable. The enclosed bucket will prevent wind from altering your build temperature for more consistent prints.

  6. Hi all,
    I think the solution is a major challenge, to get a drone that can be very precise and stable. That way you could get rid of any other structure besides the bed. and print anything as big as your imagination. At the end i is better to build by sections. But in saying it’s the poyect is gigantic you can then have gigantic sections.

    1. I doubt if you will ever get a drone to be that stable. I can envision a massive Delta tripod placed over a building site, and a Delta style printer blasting concrete. Cables can be set up and removed more easily than a solid framework.

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