Oct. 9, 2014 | By Alec

Is a desktop 3D printer too large and unwieldy? Then check out the indiegogo for the Pocket 3D Printer that was launched on 3 October.

With it, the Texas-based mechanical/material engineer and inventor Steve Middleton seeks to raise $25,000 by 9 November. 'This will cover the cost of marketing, injection melds, machined aluminium surfaces, including tempered glass for the printing area, and other manufacturing and marketing expenses.'

His Pocket 3D printer is, it must be said, an intriguing machine. There is, of course, it's size. As he explained in his Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, 'It collapses down to a pocket-size, easy-travel system no larger than an iPad Mini. No heat - The Pocket Printer prints using a photo-polymer resin. When the print is done, just grab it and go. No need to wait for a hot extruder to cool down.'

This 3D printer will come in two sizes, one sized 1 x 6 x 6 inches and the other 1 x 8 x 9 inches (both when closed). Their actual printing dimensions are 6 x 6 x 5 inches or 8 by 8 by 7 inches. It therefore definitely lives up to its name, but there's more to to this miniature printer than just its small size.

For as Steven explains, the printer combines FDM and SLA 3D printing technology:
The Pocket 3D Printer prints layer by layer like a standard FDM plastic printer, except instead of heating up plastic, the Pocket Printer prints using a ultra violet photopolymer resin. What does that mean exactly? It means no smell and no fumes! Using a UV LED at the tip of the printing arm, the resin is cured instantly. The Pocket 3D Printer combines DLP and FDM technology into one affordable, portable, and powerful 3D printer!

The Pocket 3D printer works through an app or through Bluetooth, making it very portable indeed: 'Through the Pocket 3D Printer app, you can also download and print straight from your phone. The Pocket 3D Printer app also comes preloaded with its own library of parts ready for you to print. You can also design your own parts with free design programs like Google Sketchup!'

Furthermore, rechargeable batteries can be used to power this miniature printer, making it truly portable. In addition, its inventor assures users that it works with regular STL files like those on Thingiverse – though of course you have to watch their size.

All this makes this printer a very fascinating piece of 3D printing machinery, though of course it remains to be seen if it actually works this well. Pocket3DPrinter is still in the conceptual stages. If this combination of FDM and SLA really works as well as Steven claims, he could very well be on to something.

Posted in 3D Printers

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S Middleton wrote at 10/21/2014 10:30:23 AM:

The production model will use micro stepper motors for precise control.

Steve Middleton wrote at 10/15/2014 4:29:55 PM:

Check out the new video! Thanks! :) http://igg.me/at/pocket3dprinter

BR wrote at 10/15/2014 12:57:26 AM:

Too many faults in prototype. Not functionable. No position control. No encoders or bearings. Can interpolate a straight line without those. No print head. $25k for injection mouldings and a production run? Oh and flexible funding so he gets to keep any donations from his none working printer. Count me out.

AS wrote at 10/15/2014 12:53:11 AM:

Andy Southern Andy Southern Senior Development Engineer at CEng MIED Steven, What level are you honestly up to here? If you've not printed anything yet, its wrong to not say so on any crowd funding project. Let's look at your prototype in the photo. Since you've not discussed what's wrong, I'll make a few points for you to discuss. 1. You're using DC motors. There are two wires for each motor. This means there are no encoders. 2. Your levelling of the polar arms is controlled by two unencoded DC motors that are needed to be kept at exactly the same angle for the Polar arms to be level. 3. There are no limit switches to judge the start position. On any joint. You may get away with this on a Cartesian 3d printer, but polar needs to move motors 1&2 simultaneously and at controlled rates to achieve a straight line for the print head. 4. There are no bearings in any of the joints, all loading is taken through the output shaft of the DC motor gear boxes. 5. No print head nozzle or feed tube for the material. 6. No power leads to the print head curing LED. Those 6 points Alone are enough to make me question this. Then the lack of prints. Then the lack of any electronics. Then the "Flexible Funding".

Julio wrote at 10/13/2014 10:01:24 PM:

This is not about a 3d printer. It's about a 3d printer CONCEPT. So, tell meplase, does anyone with a crazy idea and enough 3d rendering skills can ask for some money from Indiegogo? This is as dumb as the guys selling desktop metal 3d printers. They were just saying: "well, this the metal 3d printer, it doesn't work by now, but this is it". People thinks having an industrial design means having a working product.

Stratysys wrote at 10/13/2014 1:00:21 AM:

Seems really cool, but there is no video on this printer working on indie gogo page to prove it is real

stupid kickstarters are stupid wrote at 10/12/2014 1:27:01 PM:


Brian wrote at 10/11/2014 1:40:14 PM:

Looks like he is using servo motors (naked) for the Axis, not sure how precise that will be compared to the more common stepper motors. The arm should be very light so the weight isn't an issue. Even on his website there is nothing to show the prints from these device or any youtube videos. So far only a single backer on his project.

Proteus wrote at 10/11/2014 2:51:08 AM:

It's an interesting and feasible idea. I had thought of using a 3D pen on some XY gantry +Z system to get an accurate build with the UV materials. This movement system is pretty cool. Keeping it small should keep the accuracy reasonable.

Brian wrote at 10/10/2014 3:22:19 PM:

I love the design and the idea of a photo polymer extruder tip. On the funding site I do not see any videos or actual prints from this machine to be able to judge if it works or can produce something of reasonable quality. I think having it "pocket" sized is one too many features, at least for the first release. I hope the designer posts some videos and photos of his current prototypes output.

Nerdly wrote at 10/10/2014 4:00:11 AM:

I am not sure I understand how it works. It extrudes liquid resin that cures with UV light? The resolution is dependent on the layer height and the amount of resin UV exposure. Seems interesting but unlikely method.

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