Portable 3D printer that fits in a briefcase

Although printers are getting smaller and more lightweight as compared to the 80s and 90s, most are still bulky and require a lot of setup time. But what about a portable 3D printer? It seems like a concept that will take a while to hit stores, but two MIT students, CADLab’s Ilan Moyer and Nadya Peek of MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms, developed such a device, called PopFab. In the embedded video, you can see the students pull out a retractable arm, fix it in place, then connect up a laptop along with the printing head and attached material source. The pair then sit back and watch the device spring into action, etching out the fish design being fed to it by the laptop.

How cost-effective the current model is remains to be seen—it has no price tag as yet, and the MIT students have not spoken about whether they plan on making it commercially available. Based on the video, it seems simple enough for anyone to set up, at least for those who read the manual first.