Have you ever thought about taking a 3D printer with you when you’re traveling? Probably not, because most printers are still relatively large and non-portable. However, brand new project 3Dbyflow by Dutch company By Flow wants to break the pattern by bringing a 3D printer as a suitcase to the market. The printer still seems to be in its test phase and the company has not set a release date yet, but the form of the printer is already worth mentioning.
The machine basically is a suitcase, but when you open it a 3D printer appears. It kind of looks like one of those modern types of turntables; icons of the current vinyl revival. We don’t want to mention the word ‘hipster’ but oh, we did. The printer was designed by Dutch design student Floris Hoff, who already has a history in 3D printing, because he interned at TNO and worked on a 3D printer for chocolate. For this new project, he’s working together with FabLab Maastricht, a Maastricht-based FabLab establishment from his father.
So let’s tell you a little something about this printer, or: about what By Flow claims it can do. Starting off with its portability: By Flow says the reason it is portable is because it just doen’t weight too much, meaning you can take the printer anywhere you want. 3D printing while you’re on your holidays: will it once be like that? Who knows.
And then there’s the folding mechanism, as the company claims its printer has a certain ‘special folding mechanism’ able to fold down the printer in a compact case. An additional benefit to this foldability is that while the suitcase is closed it prevents the printer from dust. In addition, the printer uses different extruders, that make it possible to 3D print with several materials. The printer has an SD card input, a control button and a display.
Will this be the next revolution in 3D printing? Probably not. However, this stylish, portable 3D printer marks an interesting trend in 3D printing technology, namely that a machine is really considered useful when it’s small, light and portable. Compare it to smartphones versus iWatches. Whatever your opinion about wearables such as the iWatch may be: technology is slowly enabling developers to create smaller products. Are we entering the ‘portable’ age?