3D printers and printing is fast evolvingto become a real alternative to traditional methods of production, the day is not far that we might be printing our everyday household goods. For that to be a reality we need 3d printers of today to be more elegant looking and most importantly more portable. All the 3d printers available right now are either too big or are too bulky to be transported from one place to another. A Belgian 3D printer service company, 3D Printers VDB seems to have understood the importance of portability and are developing a 3D printer that can fit into a 19’ laptop case.
They call it the Foldie 3D FFF Printer, which is designed on the H-bot belt design which makes the printer easily collapse to be portable enough to fit into a laptop case. To make the 3d printer light weight they have replaced the belts with cords, it makes the printer lighter, more flexible, and has a pull resistant design. Foldie 3d printer is probably also the only printer ever to be built with a motorized bed-lift.
3D Printers VDB's CEO Yvan Van den Bossche was open enough to talk about the unique mechanism built to make the Foldie 3D FFF Printer, "the lift-motor turns a gear, which in turn makes a second gear rotate, accommodating a hex nut which rotates up and down on a static threaded m5 rod. Because the rod is static, the gear sends the bed up or down while rotating."
Yvan Van den Bosschealso told us that the company has taken extreme care to make sure their printer is not too expensive for which they have replaced the expensive components with workable everyday items. Giving examples he said he replaced the bulky and expensive powersuply used in 3d printers with a 19V laptop power-supply which makes it easier to carry. He further added "I designed [the Foldie 3D] in order to give less financially fortunate people, such as students and low income workers, the possibility to own, build, and use a 3D Printer."
To add to the already amazing features of Foldiethe company has decided to make it opensource and all the files to 3D Print the 3D printer is made available for general public on Thingiverse. Most of the external chassis can be 3d printed using PLA plastic (The company aims to be a green company and promotes eco-friendly products) but the maker would have to purchase some electronics and moving mechanisms like rods, screws, and bolts which may set back the creator by $ 340.
In the current state the printer consists on a single extruder, with an auto calibration printer bed which is controlled by optical endstop. The printer also provides options for future upgrades like adding a heated bed to the printer. To achieve this, the developers plan to sell temperature sensor, heater and a separate power supply.Van den Bossche also plans to sell a windows based tablet that will be preinstalled with open source printing software’s like Repetier Host, Meshmixer, Meshlab. This table will be able to control the printer as well as design simple 3d designs.