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Environment/Science Last Updated: Dec 29, 2018 - 7:37:51 PM

The portable 3D printer that fits in a briefcase
By Liat Clark
Aug 5, 2012 - 5:16:31 PM

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The portable 3D printer that fits in a briefcase

Two MIT students created an ultra-compact machine with a detachable head.

PopFab Episode 1 - Introduction

PopFab is a multi-tool for the 21st century. At its heart is a computer-controlled motion platform and a means of attaching various toolheads. These enable PopFab to make objects from a digital plan in a variety of ways: current capabilities include 3D printing (as you are about to see), milling, vinyl cutting, and drawing -- with more on the way. PopFab has traveled the world as a carry-on item of luggage to Saudi Arabia and Germany, and within the USA to Aspen in Colorado. We hope that this is only the beginning.;read=248151

As "ink" it apparently uses a wire of plastic that feeds from a spool into the "print head" where it is melted for deposition. It also has, or will have, attachments available for doing post-fabrication machining.

Designed by an MIT student, Ilan Moyer, whose other creations can be seen here:



Mini Projects

Mini Projects

Gestalt or not, a collection of minor projects. These include furniture, gizmos, art, and miscellaneous afternoon endevours. The primary portfolio begins below.

Section 4: Post-Graduation (June 2008 - Present)

Virtual Machine Control

(Virtual) Machine Control

May 2008 - November 2009

Creating a control system can be one of the most challenging elements of building a moving machine. This project develops a set of networkable control modules, each with a corresponding "virtual" software module. These building-blocks can then be combined to quickly prototype complex control systems.

Personal Fabricator

FabMate Personal Fabricator

June 2009 - September 2009

Most automated fabrication tools - whether additive or subtractive - consist of a 3-axis gantry and a toolhead. The FabMate collection of machine iterations provides an extensible universal gantry fast enough for 3D printing and stiff enough for light milling. Sponsored by the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms and created in collaboration with Maxim Lobovsky.

Plaster Disaster

The Plaster Disaster

March 2009 - May 2009

The Plaster Disaster was created with graduate students Maxim Lobovsky and Kwang Lim as our final project for MIT's "MAS.961: How to Make Something That Makes (Almost) Anything." Our goal was to build a fast and accurate 3D printer, in the spirit of Fab@Home , while examining the benefits (and weaknesses) of using plaster as the machine's primary structural material.

Foamcore CNC

Foamcore CNC Machine

February 2009

As a weekend project for MIT's "MAS.961: How to Make Something That Makes (Almost) Anything", I explored the low end of DIY 3D printing. This machine can be built at home in a day using a hot glue gun, an exacto knife, and less that $100 of materials and components. The use of foamcore as the primary structural component enables rapid iteration and easy experimentation.

Smoot Plaque

50th Anniverary Smoot Plaque

May 2008 - June 2009

In the Fall of 1958, the Mass. Ave. Bridge linking MIT's campus with Boston's Back Bay was measured using the body of then-fraternity-pledge Oliver Reed Smoot. In 2008 the MIT Class of 1962 commissioned me to design and fabricate a commemorative titanium plaque and concrete post - now mounted at the head of the bridge. I completed this assignment in collaboration with Ken Stone of the MIT Hobby Shop and artist Melissa Rothstein.

Section 3: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at MIT (August 2004 - August 2008)

Low Cost PCB Mill

Low Cost PCB Mill

April 2008 - May 2008

This circuit board milling machine was made as a component of my SB thesis entitled "Rapid Prototyping of Rapid Prototyping Machines." It was both an exploration in the design of low cost CNC machine tools and a test bed for developing a networked motor control system. The goal of the thesis was to develop techniques for simplifying the design and creation of new fabrication machines.

Parametric XY Motion Stage

Parametrically Designed XY Motion Stage

February 2008 - April 2008

Integral to many DIY CNC projects is an XY stage - most are designed from scratch for each new project. As a component of my SB thesis entitled "Rapid Prototyping of Rapid Prototyping Machines," the design of this XY stage is defined entirely by its table travel and overall stiffness. Engineering calculations, appropriate component selection from McMaster-Carr, and engineering drawings are all generated automatically.

Today Was Beautiful and I Thought of You

"Today Was Beautiful and I Thought of You"

October 2007 - December 2007

CAUTION: CONFLICTING EMOTIONS MAY RESULT IN A MENTAL STATE WHICH, WHILE IN STABLE EQUILIBRIUM, IS UNDER EXTREME TENSION. This photographic installation was created as my final project for MIT's "4.341: Introduction to Photography," and exhibited in the lobby of MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences Building.

EasySet Alarm Clock

EasySet Alarm Clock

October 2005 - August 2007

Most digital alarm clocks provide only two control buttons and require the user to scroll minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour to set an alarm. By realizing that five-minute resolution is adequate when selecting a wake-up time, this alarm clock simplifies the process by enabling direct time entry.

2.008 Yo Yo

2.008 Design and Manufacturing II

March 2007 - May 2007

A yo-yo, or a pair of headphones? As a team project for MIT's manufacturing class, we designed and machined the molds which formed the plastic components of this unlikely object. Over 100 were made and measured as an introduction to the realities of manufacturing variability.

AbsolutZero Rapid Beverage Chiller

AbsolutZero Rapid Beverage Chiller

January 2007

This device, created in collaboration with my friend Greg Schroll , uses thermoelectric cooling modules to chill a soda can from room temperature to 5 degrees Celcius in under two minutes. It received MIT's 2007 deFlorez Award for "outstanding ingenuity and creative judgement."

2.007 Contest Machine

2.007 Intro to Design and Manufacturing

February 2006 - May 2006

My entry for the culminating competition of MIT's introductory mechanical design class involved three months of intense creative design, analysis, solid modeling, and machining. The design was awarded MIT's 2006 Whitelaw Prize for "Originality in the Design of 2.007 Machine."

Take Control

"Take Control"

May 2006

A public art piece for MIT's "4.301: Introduction to Visual Arts." This red podium urged observers to take control by depressing an emergency stop button situated below a digital clock.

Who Needs Fuses?!

MASLab Autonomous Robotics Competition

January 2006

As part of a 4-person team, I designed and built the mechanical systems for a camera-guided robot capable of locating, capturing, and depositing items (red balls) autonomously. Our creation received the "Best Dressed Robot" award for its good looks and charm.

Flashlight from CNC Lathe Class

Golden Ratio Flashlight - CNC Lathe Class

January 2006

The aesthetic form of this flashlight was fashioned using the Golden Ratio design system as an exercise during my 3-week course of study at the Barnstone Studios. Upon returning to MIT, I served as the instructor for a 6-person CNC machining seminar at the Hobby Shop aimed at mass-producing the flashlight economically.

Printed Circuit Board for Apple Computer

Printed Circuit Board for Apple Computer

August 2005

One of two major projects I completed as part of my summer internship at Apple Computer. This PCB made use of 1000 switches to arbitrarily connect a laptop keyboard matrix to its track-pad controller. I designed the circuit in Cadence, and then worked with a PCB layout engineer to generate traces and silkscreen artwork. The final product was professionally fabricated and stuffed.

Force Testing Gantry for Apple Computer

Force Testing Gantry for Apple Computer

July 2005

The other major project I completed as part of my summer internship at Apple Computer. This gantry supported a mini Instron force testing machine, and facilitated the characterization of laptop keyboards. I designed the components using Unigraphics, and then worked with Apple's Model Shop to create a final product. A second device was later made for Apple's Reliability Laboratory.

Section 2: Winston Churchill High School, Potomac MD (August 2000 - June 2004)

Golf Ball Launcher

Golf Ball Launcher

March 2004

This pendulum-action golf ball launcher was the first time I had used CAD to completely design a project before construction. The effort led to 20 different types of parts represented by over 100 pages of mechanical drawings, most of which were machined from aluminum and 304 stainless steel.

Morse Code Interpreter

Morse Code Interpreter

October 2003

The Morse Code Interpreter uses a microprocessor to convert an incoming Morse Code signal into alphanumeric characters on an LCD screen. This project afforded me the enjoyable opportunity to combine aesthetic mechanical design with electrical engineering.

Boston University Design Competition Vehicle

Boston University Design Competition Vehicle

April 2003

A hacky-sack firing autonomous vehicle. Motor speed, direction, and the launch of a hacky sack were all controlled using a microprocessor. The design was also my first experience using bent sheet-metal as structural elements.

Computer-Controlled Balloon Powered Car

Computer-Controlled Balloon Powered Car

March 2003

The challenge was to create a vehicle which would travel the farthest on one balloon's worth of compressed air. Using a series of microprocessor-controlled air valves, my device maintained a slow speed to avoid losing energy to viscous air drag.

Mass Driver

Mass Driver

October 2002

The Mass Driver was designed for the Maryland Space Business Roundtable's Final Frontiers Competition. It is machined entirely from red oak and features a rubber band powered catapult riding on a dovetail slide. My design received the "Best Engineering Award."

The Yellow Submarine

The Yellow Submarine

April 2002

A radio-controlled submarine driven by a DC motor. Creating a submersible vehicle forced me to overcome water-induced hurdles by sealing the drive shaft, compartmentalizing the electronics, and devising a method to change depths.

Turbine Driven Balloon-Powered Car

Turbine Driven Balloon-Powered Car

March 2002

Machined entirely from aluminum and teflon, this air-driven turbine was my first entry into the University of Maryland Physics Olympics. Its power-to-weight ratio proved too low to make it a practical power plant for a balloon-powered car.

Fire Extinguishing Robotic Arm

Fire Extinguishing Robotic Arm

November 2001

This hydraulically-actuated robotic arm was designed to surmount an 18 inch barrier and extinguish three candles as quickly as possible. Exluding the base, the robotic arm was entirely built on a milling machine and lathe, and contained over 33 individually machined parts. Materials used include aluminum, brass, copper, Teflon, carbon fiber, and wood.

Satellite Snatch

Satellite Snatch

October 2001

As an entry into the Maryland Space Business Roundtable's Final Frontiers Competition, the Satellite Snatch used a series of rope-linked pins to sucessively capture and retrieve 3 metal disks from the center of a table. My design was recognized with the "Best Engineering Award."

Section 1: Youngster Years (March 1986 - August 2000)

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Spring 2000

As an entry into the Maryland Space Business Roundtable's Final Frontiers Competition, the Satellite Snatch used a series of rope-linked pins to sucessively capture and retrieve 3 metal disks from the center of a table. My design was recognized with the "Best Engineering Award."


The world’s first 3D-printed gun. See:

Future of Construction Process: 3D Concrete Printing. See:

Pentagon Fears Global Technological Progress. See:

Solar Cells Printed On Paper. See:

Chinese companies mass producing fake rice out of plastic. See:

The wild possibilities of printing food. See:

First Generation Replicator Technology - 3D Colour Printers. See:

Copyright law is just another brick in the wall of the artificially created competitive, dog eat dog world see:




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