Engineering students produce portable 3D printer

A team of fourth year engineering students has produced a functional portable 3D printer which has enabled them to print various objects including a set of cutlery and a set of teeth.

The students made various mechanical modifications to a functional desktop 3D printer to make it portable - allowing it to collapse into a versatile suitcase featuring a handle and wheels.

The printer was used to print various items including the actual mechanism that was used in allowing the printer to be folded into the suitcase.

Items printed included a set of teeth to demonstrate the medical benefits of the 3D printer and an enclosed screw bearing – which is a mechanical component that can only be produced in this way due to the complexity of its shape.

Dr Alan Stocker, Senior Lecturer in our University’s Department of Engineering, said: “The design process was holistic and required lateral thinking throughout. The group was aided by computer-based modelling and stress simulations to ensure that the design choices that were made were suitable.

“The students were given a specific focus on sustainability to meet current industry regulations. With this in mind they included a load-sensor which allowed the user to precisely compare the amount of material required for a printing operation with the amount of material leftover. This addition meant that the user wasted fewer filaments which saves money and increases the emphasis on sustainability for the project.”