Among all the different innovative challenges faced by the 3D printing industry, portability is one of the more challenging ones as it forces designers to rethink all the basic elements of 3D printing technology. Several ambitious projects are currently underway, like an ongoing crowdfunding campaign for a portable FDM 3D printer.
However, the project 3Dbyflow by Dutch company By Flow is perhaps the most ambitious and intriguing attempts to realize properly portable 3D printing. While little has been revealed about this ongoing project, it's already looking very promising. A website offering a sneak peak was recently launched, while Dutch design student and the project's mastermind Floris Hoff also visited to MakerFaire in Rome to talk about his printer.
While nothing is yet known about when this printer will be released to the public or what it exactly does, we can tell you this about it. It's a multi-purpose, highly portable 3D printer that utilizes basic FDM technology. Weighing only 7 kg and with a very small frame (440 x 325 x 460 mm), it easily fits into a small aluminium briefcase. In fact, a special folding mechanism has been included with precisely this in mind. Obviously, this also makes it an easy-to-store printer that is easily kept dust-free. Furthermore, it comes with a display, an SD-card input and a control button, eliminating the need for any extra hardware.
While this already sounds very promising, wait till you learn more about its printing capabilities. It has a build volume of 215 x 220 x 160 mm and uses 1.75 mm diameter filament. It can produce layers with a height between 50 and 400 microns, and it will be capable of printing in plastic, ceramic, food and even metal. That's right. Using a number of removable extruders, just about any printing project is theoretically possible using this By Flow multimaterial 3d printer.
Relatively little is known about the current state of the project. Its designer Floris Hoff was one of the co-developers of the 3D printer for chocolate at TNO where he worked as an intern. He is currently studying product design in The Hague, and has been working on this project in collaboration with his father's Maastricht-based design company FabLab.

Hoff in Rome with a suitcase that should contain his prototype.
As for the project, Hoff demonstrated printing in chocolate and ceramics at the Maker Faire in Rome, so it's already steadily progressing. However, even at this stage its looking like one of the most promising portable printing projects out there. Imagine running a factory out of the back of your car? We'll keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available.

By 3ders