Arm mounted portable 3D printer - Make: Community
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Arm mounted portable 3D printer

By Joe Larson

It's a 3D printer that can print wirelessly and strapped to your arm

Type: Artistic

State: UT
Country: United States
Affiliation: Makerspace - Washington County Libraries

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What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?

From time to time I've tested cheap 3D printers that only ran on 12v and thought "someone could make a battery pack for this." And in fact, others have. But a recent project I was invited to be a part of was the Baby Belt, a mini belt 3D printer... which I haven't got working. But when thinking of projects to do on it I thought it could do a long thin thing like a katana or something. And suddenly the idea of making it run off a battery came back to me. But, that printer isn't quite working yet, but I did have an EasyThreed K7 laying around, which is also a 12V 3D printer. I started researching how one builds one of those fancy battery packs, with the circuitry that allows you to charge it while you use it, and I discovered that 12V battery backup power supplies already exist off the shelf, and suddenly this project became not only possible... but inevitable.

What is your project about and how does it work?

Imagine being able to start a 3D print from wherever you are. Imagine whenever your 3D printer finishes that you are there all the time because it goes with you,

An EasyThreeD K7, running on a battery backup that allows it to print for 5 hours wirelessly, and all of it strapped to your arm with a 3D printed bracer. Weighing a total of only about 5 pounds, and far enough up the arm that it doesn't interfere with regular activities, this is the ultimate fusion of man and the maker movement.

What did you learn by doing this project?

First of all, this is a wildly impractical idea. 3D printing is still painfully slow, and this printer even more so, so most prints are going to take a long, long time. Also, this isn't the most rigid of printers, so prints done while actually moving around have a noticeable drop in quality. So while this is something that *can* be done, there is almost no reason to do it. And there's definitely no reason for me to continue development on a second version with a button on my palm so I can start a print with the snap of my finger

Except it's really, really cool.

What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?

I have a friend who is way into football. He not only watches the games, but he also follows the drama on and off the field. It's something he's obsessed about. And he's talked from time to time about how he knows this stuff isn't making him a better person or changing the world for the better. But, it brings him joy.

Which is to say, this has practically no value on myself or the world as a whole. But it's fun. And for a second I can feel like a superhero walking around.

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