June 29, 2014

Most desktop 3D printers have a pretty large footprint, but if you have stuff to print but need to stay mobile, cheap portable 3D printers are certainly a better choice. In 2012, a pair of MIT mechanical engineering students developed the first truly portable 3D printer, a portable multi-purpose tool named PopFab - a combination 3D printer and CNC mill briefcase. Since then, many makers have been working on portable 3D printers. The latest foldable 3D printer made for easy transport is TOME 3D printer which is currently under development.

Its inventors, Philip Haasnoot, and his partner Corey Renner wanted to enter this currently almost non-existent market with a portable and self contained FDM 3D printer that could be used in field hospitals that are short on supplies.

Tempe Arizona based Haasnoot, recently turned 25, has worked in aerospace where he designed hydraulic actuators/ swivels/ solenoid valves/ servo valves as well as all the associated manufacturing robotics and automated test fixtures. Later he joined Motorola solutions where he worked in industrial mobile computing and electronics packaging. He is currently employed by Local Motors, Makers of the Rally Fighter, as a Senior Electro-Mechanical Engineer. "The basic drive behind what I do is a love for engineering, and solving complex problems," Haasnoot said. "The worst thing anyone can tell me is that I can't do something, because it only makes me try harder."

"My inspiration for creating the printer draws from both my professional life as well as trends in mobile computing." Haasnoot told 3ders.org. "I learned early on in my career that being agile and flexible would enable me to advance at a rapid pace, and fill roles in whatever organization I worked for rapidly. Being able to bring tools with me became very important as my jobs often required me to travel for on-site testing or manufacturing management. Having a 3D printer on hand to produce prototypes or test fixture designs would have enabled these projects to be completed faster, with more precision, and less overhead cost. Inspiration for the TOME was also drawn from the progression from desktop PC's to Laptops, with the trade off in sheer computing power for mobility. I see the TOME as the next logical step for 3D printers, refining the FDM technology to work in a smaller more robust package. Future advancements and patent expirations will enable us to miniaturize other 3D printing technologies for mobile use."

Haasnoot and Renner, who is also his colleague at Local Motors, are finalizing the designs for the X/Y/Z drive mechanisms and the extruder. The TOME 3D printer is designed to be 4″ X 8″ X 11″ when folded up, with a print volume of a 5" cube. It will have an integrated battery pack (Min 4hrs standard, Min 6hrs 1.5x battery pack) and a removable filament reel cartridge. The plans are to make this a PLA only printer with a heated bed for better adhesion. There will be two filament options, Minimum 3" solid cube capacity and Min 5" solid cube with 1.5x reel. There are plans to produce the TOME in several sizes, and the commercial version of the TOME will have an injection molded / leather wrapped case for more of an every day use.

Currently they are on track to have a full working prototype by the end of July, and will begin preparing all documentation for the Open Source release shortly after. They are using their own desktop 3D printers to make parts, but they are also planning to produce some of the parts through 3D printing service Shapeways for those who cannot wait for the TOME to reach full production. "I have a full compliment of machines including 3 CNC milling machines ranging from a small bench top to a full size Tormach 1100, CNC lathes, a Solidoodle and Makerbot Replicator 3D printers, and a Full spectrum laser cutter." Haasnoot said. "In a nutshell, I love what I do and never shy away from complex problems."

The style of TOME 3D printer is aimed primarily at medical, scientific research, and military applications. The team believes that utilizing several TOME 3D printers that interact with one another they can print some fantastic things.

"Picture a field hospital with several TOMEs and a problem, they need to 3D print an arm brace but it's far too large for a single TOME." the team notes. "This model can be printed and split between all of the TOMEs at their disposal to quickly print the arm brace. Remote printing will also take a large leap by allowing teams to print collaborate on projects by printing parts to each others TOMEs for more rapid project development. Being able to collaborate over large distances seamlessly, deliver engineered products to those who need it remotely, and then receive real feedback with one system will enable us to develop technology faster and be able to help a wider audience."

The TOME 3D printer will be priced at under $1500. "This is assuming that we sell less than 500 units per year; Anything more than that and the cost can be driven down substantially." Haasnoot told us. "The first generation TOME will of course be our first product launch, and I am sure we will be able to gain a great deal of experience from it to make future product generations and launches more cost effective and increase cadence of our design process." Haasnoot said that they are not primarily concerned with profits. "We see this device as a gateway to forge new paths in the 3D printing community."

In addition Haasnoot said that this project will remain open source, and they plan to release full code/ electrical schematics/ CAD models once the prototype has been vetted and refined.

"This project is being developed on Hackaday.io as an open source project, and will remain an open source project. 3D printing for home use took a large step forward during the advent of affordable FDM printers, but once those companies began to adopt closed-source business strategies the advancement slowed considerably." Haasnoot stated.

"We hope that this project will inspire others to find as many uses and upgrades for the TOME as possible. If the TOME ends up going to market we will be adopting a "Roadmap" style update system for the community to propose changes, vote on which changes they would like to see next, while giving us the opportunity to keep them updated with whatever support issues we are working on."

Currently this project is funded by Haasnoot and Renner's paychecks. "All of the components are being designed with mass production in mind, and if we win any of the prizes for the hackaday contest they will be used to further develop this project." Haasnoot added. "Realistically we would need more funding to get the TOME into production."

Haasnoot and Renner are hoping to find interested parties to assist in funding the TOMEs development and future Kickstarter. You can also follow the development progress on Hackaday.

Posted in 3D Printers

Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive