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MIT Students Reveal PopFab, a 3D Printer That Fits Inside a Briefcase

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it-slices-it-dices-it-makes-julienne-fries dept.

Printer 49

cylonlover writes "There are plenty of different 3D printers to choose from these days, from the popular Makerbot Thing-O-Matic to the budget-priced Solidoodle. These all have one drawback, however, in that they aren't exactly portable. Most need to be disassembled to be moved, and even the fully-assembled Cubify printer isn't really built for travel. But now, two MIT students have developed the PopFab, a machine that does 3D printing and more, all while fitting inside a small suitcase. With different heads, the machine could also be used for milling, vinyl cutting, drawing, and much more, to create a wide variety of objects. The creators have also tested its portability by traveling with it as a carry-on suitcase to Saudi Arabia, Germany, and within the U.S."

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Briefcase? (-1, Flamebait)

gameboyhippo (827141) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873125)

Sorry, I don't speak "grandpa".

Re:Briefcase? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873619)

You're clearly out of touch.

Re:Briefcase? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40876943)

It's a bag for carrying underwear.

lame (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873139)

My dick is bigger.

Re:lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40874507)

Oh!

So *this* is where all those Digg kiddies ended up!

I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873151)

After all, they could use it to make a box cutter and then hijack the plane.

Yes, this is sarcasm, in case your detector is broken.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (5, Funny)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873189)

Yes, this is sarcasm, in case your detector is broken.

You could always print a new one.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873583)

Yes, this is sarcasm, in case your detector is broken.

You could always print a new one.

A sarcasm detector? Now that's a _really_ useful invention.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (2)

user flynn (236683) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874965)

Yes, this is sarcasm, in case your detector is broken.

You could always print a new one.

A sarcasm detector? Now that's a _really_ useful invention.
 

    No it isn't.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40907767)

You might want to print yourself some woosh.

why do a plane.when you can do a in line of fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873223)

You will only get one change and then it's off to ADX Florence

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873317)

After all, they could use it to make a box cutter and then hijack the plane.

Maybe not a box cutter -- it has a spring in it -- but you could make a knife; Plastic is incredibly hard, and skin is incredibly soft. It only takes a few pounds of pressure to cut skin. Hell, I can snap a credit card in two and that makes a crude, but effective, slashing weapon. The idea that only metal is dangerous is pretty stupid. But then, this is the TSA we're talking about.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873481)

I wonder...can they detect glass blades? Especially if the blade is inserted in a matching counterpart so that the overall shape on an X-ray resembles an innocuous solid cuboid or something like that?

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873595)

I wonder...can they detect glass blades? Especially if the blade is inserted in a matching counterpart so that the overall shape on an X-ray resembles an innocuous solid cuboid or something like that?

If not exactly that, there are many other ways you could get a weapon on board that makes X-ray detectors only useful for catching people who accidentally left something dangerous in their carry-on luggage, like a bottle of water.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874741)

No. You'd be able to see the shear plane, at least, you would if you're a competent x-ray operator and look at it from more than one angle. (-_-) Okay, you're right, the TSA would probably miss it.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#40876115)

You'd only be able to tell if it was a knife if you have it a point. But glass is sharp - you could make a knife with a squared blade and no tip that would still easily cut someone's throat with the edge. You could scribe it so you could snap it into the right shape.

There's any number of things an intelligent person can do, but to some degree the sad part about airport security is we only need to be able to catch the people who'd actually try something, and fortunately they're not very bright normally.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40877163)

You'd only be able to tell if it was a knife if you have it a point. But glass is sharp - you could make a knife with a squared blade and no tip that would still easily cut someone's throat with the edge. You could scribe it so you could snap it into the right shape.

There's any number of things an intelligent person can do, but to some degree the sad part about airport security is we only need to be able to catch the people who'd actually try something, and fortunately they're not very bright normally.

The mooks who actually board planes may not be, but they're organized and trained by people who are a great deal smarter.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40877693)

I was almost MURDERED by a gas attack from a passenger sitting next to me once. Was some bad chili, he claimed.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40881481)

I was almost MURDERED by a gas attack from a passenger sitting next to me once. Was some bad chili, he claimed.

So in order to ensure safety, we now need to an x-ray, a pat-down, and a big squeeze to determine if the passenger is holding any weapons?

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874847)

No. I forgot I had ceramic knives in a bag of cookies in my laptop bag when brought it on an international flight to Taiwan a few months back.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874169)

After all, they could use it to make a box cutter and then hijack the plane.

Maybe not a box cutter -- it has a spring in it -- but you could make a knife; Plastic is incredibly hard, and skin is incredibly soft. It only takes a few pounds of pressure to cut skin. Hell, I can snap a credit card in two and that makes a crude, but effective, slashing weapon. The idea that only metal is dangerous is pretty stupid. But then, this is the TSA we're talking about.

Actually, just purchase any random item packaged in a plastic anti-theft "laceration package" and use it. Those things shed more blood than a planeload of terrorists.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873671)

I was thinking along the same lines, it could print a replica of a pistol.

When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have briefcase printers.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (2)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873743)

I don't think it matters any more. Pre-9/11 thinking was that if the plane gets hijacked, let them fly us to Egypt where we'll be hostage for a few days until the US caves to their demands or Rainbow Six (or whoever) shoots them.

Post-9/11 thinking is that if the plane gets hijacked, the pilot is still not going to open his vault doors, and enough of the passengers are willing to risk a real or imagined knife to beat the stuffing out of you.

Even though I don't think it matters any more, doesn't mean that the TSA has figured it out though.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (3)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874093)

The saddest part is, the American populace figured that out just over an hour. Seriously [wikipedia.org] (timeline : 0846 local was the first hit. At 0957 local, passengers of Flight 93 began the revolt.)

And here we are, over a decade later, and TSA still doesn't have a clue. At what point does ignorance become willful?

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (4, Funny)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874559)

"At what point does ignorance become willful?"

At precisely that point at which it becomes a bureaucracy.

Re:I'm surprised the TSA didn't arrest them. (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40880647)

It was willful before the TSA was set up.

I think Ben Heck beat them to it (5, Interesting)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873221)

Re:I think Ben Heck beat them to it (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873599)

This is standard MIT behavior. Whenever their student body does something, it must be the first time that was ever done. This is not only true for 3D printing, but also weather balloon flights, and other assorted student engineering tasks.

I don't think it's the student's fault. I blame MIT public relations for always giving this impression to the press.

Re:I think Ben Heck beat them to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40876657)

In every CS dept of every university there are two kinds of researchers.

One uses faculty position, media exposure, student's work, etc to get up the ladder. Usually, these people have very poor understanding of CS theory such as algorithms and computation complexity.

The other kind of researchers just do research. Usually, these are the theoreticians.

The public can help the latter researchers by pinpointing out how obvious and trivial are the works of the first kind of researchers. Otherwise, sooner or later the CS dept is going to be filled only with flashy idiots.

Re:I think Ben Heck beat them to it (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40877559)

I understand your position, however in this case it's an institutional issue more than a departmental one. This is more like an institution trying to maintain a myth of their being on the bleeding edge by claiming to be an pioneer on a road that's already well traveled.

Zzz... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873225)

Nothing interesting ever happens. Reality is fucking worthless.

Soon to be banned (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873277)

Airplane + PopFab = Gun/boxcutter/weapon = Potential Hijacking

Re:Soon to be banned (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873393)

You read my mind. Plus the 'powder' and chemical bonding agent will surely not be allowed right now.

3D Printers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873323)

Look. I get it. 3D printing is cool as heck. But, let's be honest.

All of the 3D printed products that I have seen so far are bumpy, flimsy plastic bits with little real world day-to-day usability. Even the very best ones would require machining to just make them look good, let alone strong enough for real use.

I'd love for some Slashdotter to prove me wrong and to point me to an amazingly strong and useful 3D printed product. But, really; 3D printing is failing to live up to the hype, even if it does fit in a suit case.

Re:3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873443)

"I'd love for some Slashdotter to prove me wrong and to point me to an amazingly strong and useful 3D printed product. "

Try The Google.
www.google.com/search?q=3d+printed+gun+parts

Re:3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40877229)

While probably not yet ready for building car powertrains or such, 3D products are far from unusable:

http://bit.ly/OPUgn3
http://bit.ly/MoY8xe
http://bit.ly/MbbPP0
http://bit.ly/OA7jJV

(bit.ly links to avoid obvious advertising)
Browse thru this site, or shapeways or any other, and you'll see...

Re:3D Printers (4, Interesting)

tebee (1280900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873741)

Excuse the blatant advertising, but I for one am actually making a living from making and selling 3-d printed things.

What you may ask? Would you belive model train parts?

  http://www.shapeways.com/shops/tebee?sort=newest [shapeways.com]

and selling them on the dreaded Ebay too http://stores.ebay.com/tbmod [ebay.com]

Re:3D Printers (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874447)

That's a brilliant choice of application!

For those not aware, it gets around having to make complex metal molds for plastic parts, and it ALSO can be used to produce lost wax castings if you want the same part out of brass! (The change of some dimensions and the addition of sprues would be required for that, but it's easy enough and being done elsewhere.)

http://www.protocam.com/html/investment-castings.html [protocam.com]

Re:3D Printers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40875663)

Great, you're selling things. That doesn't address a single question raised by the OP...

" bumpy, flimsy plastic bits with little real world day-to-day usability. Even the very best ones would require machining to just make them look good, let alone strong enough for real use."

How come debating and logic skills are so piss-poor with the geek crowd? Oh wait, that's how you sell these things...

Re:3D Printers (4, Informative)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873775)

Maybe you haven't seen the SLA printer projects that use lasers or DLP such as LemonCurry [google.com] for curing photopolymers [bucktownpolymers.com] ? Feature sizes are often down to 1 micron per layer and only a few microns for X and Y.

Photopolymers are available in a wide range of properties that are tough enough for use as end products and not just product concept look-a-likes. Photopolymers for inkjet have also come a long way and are also used to create rigid and durable end products with features down to 25-50 microns. What you might be used to seeing are the FDM or FFF (fused filament fabrication) RepRap type printers that print with molten plastics with much lower resolution in the order of 0.3mm.

Re:3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40877399)

I see your 1 micron resolution, and raise you 150nm resolution: nanoscribe.de [nanoscribe.de]

Although we've only managed circa 200nm transverse and 500nm longitudinal (the voxels are elipsoidal).

Re:3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40873801)

Walk through your appartment, and list all parts or entire items less than 15cm large each side - and then see if the item draws its functionality from the form - if yes, you can replace, fix broken aspects or produce more by yourself, that list of items will go into the hundreds. And the potential to actually produce kits ala Lego by yourself slowly catches up: creating larger items beyond the 15cm by assembling printed parts together. Yes, right now Thingyverse.com has a lot of useless toys listed, but the useful parts catching up . . .

Re:3D Printers (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40874139)

Forget 15cm on a side. Using commodity >$400 27" 2560x1440 LCD panels from Korea, you are looking at 0.23mm resolution at 33cm x 58cm roughly. Still more than 4x the resolution of FDM kit, massively larger workspace, speed (for arbitrary complexity and large format), and scalability for duplicates.

If you wanted to build a commercial grade kit, a 4k projector would make huge parts at excellent resolution or medium sized parts at absurd resolution. Total investment would still be sub $35k. That is double the cost of HP's FDM printer (that makes stuff under 20cm on a side), but less than many large format CNC machines or material removal style 3d printers.

Re:3D Printers (1)

CyberKnet (184349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40894629)

This being slashdot, I feel obliged / compelled to point you towards this [thingiverse.com] instead. :)

Visible Light Curable Resin (5, Interesting)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40873901)

Sorry, but we're about 6 months from near-UV / visible light curable resin destroying the FMD models. If you use an iPad Retina display as the light source, you only have mechanical jitter in the Z-axis (the boom / base you are raising) and a resolution of .078 mm (the best enthusiast FDM stuff is around .5 mm). You only need one stepper motor and mechanical assembly. You also reduce the amount of custom electronics to drive the head assembly and x & y axis stepper motors.

Currently, Junior Veloso [blogspot.com] is using DLP projectors to get the light intensity needed (and .05 mm resolution), but an LCD panel with closer to UV LEDs under it would be an even cheaper route. With filters removed on an LCD you have (arbitrarily assigned axes) X-axis at the dot pitch, Y-axis at 1/3 dot pitch, and Z-axis at your stepper motor / mechanical limit.

Lithographic techniques with light curable resins are vastly more scalable as well. Within the work area, there is no increase in time except for the Z-axis height. This means making dozens of duplicates in one pass for small objects or one large piece in the same time span. Further, the software process to turn the 3D model into 2D slices is exceptionally trivial compared with CAM type instructions to move 3 axes and run a pump head. Technically you could farm the object render with a LCD panel, laptop LCD, or tablet out to an auto-refresh webpage with black and white image slices with the stepper motor running on a timer synced with the page refresh...

Re:Visible Light Curable Resin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40874729)

I would love more details on this. It seems like his blog hasn't been updated in a while. The demonstration video is awesome.

Re:Visible Light Curable Resin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40876285)

Great idea.
Could you do away with z-axis stepper by floating Ipad construction in top of curable resin so it will go up when liquid level is increased to print higher layers. I bet simple pump/floation system would be simpler than having z-axis stepper construction. Could even be more accurate.

you can tell the immaturity of the field (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40874989)

cause they emphasize hardware specs, rather then software and what yhu can do
I imagine this is how trs 80s were sold; you made you own software
when webpages about low cost 3D printers START OFF with the software and what it can do and how much it costs, then the field is ready for prime time

cinnamon colbert

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