Jan 24, 2019 | By Cameron

3D printers are great for fixing and replacing things around the house: shelves, brackets, knobs, board game pieces, etc. But what about when you’re flying a 3D printed drone in the middle of a field and crash it into the only tree? Normally, it’d be time to go home and 3D print the replacement parts in the workshop or office, but with YouTuber Thomas Sanladerer’s mobile Printrbot Play those same parts could be 3D printed in the (literal) field.

Sanladerer wanted to be free to 3D print anywhere, untethered from power cords and wireless networks. He chose the Printrbot Play for a few reasons, the main one being that its over-engineered steel frame is incredibly sturdy and will maintain levelness and mechanical operation while being carried. Speaking of which, the frame also includes a carrying handle and a filament spool holder. Additionally, there’s plenty of room in the housing to add a Raspberry Pi and other electronics needed for mobile 3D printing.

He mounted six 7.2V Sony NP-F batteries onto the back of the Play that provide up to six hours of off-grid 3D printing, but the voltage had to be ramped up through two DC converters to 12V to power the hotend and stepper motors and then back down to 5V for the Raspberry Pi running the OctoPi Raspbian OS that enables control over a wireless network. Through this configuration, the Play is its own wireless access point so only a smartphone is needed to operate it.

The Play has a small-but-mighty 100x100x130mm build volume, a perfect size for on-the-go 3D printing. It’s very possible that future repair technicians and general contractors could use something like this when going on repair calls, 3D printing a temporary fix until the right part is acquired. Sometimes the 3D printed fix will be good enough to be permanent. The money saved on logistics would more than cover the few hundred dollars spent on a mobile 3D printer, and small parts like threaded seals and brackets can be printed in 10 minutes or less, much less time than what would be spent going to the hardware store and back. Sanladerer should consider pitching his portable 3D printer to GE, Whirlpool, or Frigidaire.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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