AMS Spring 2023

Open Source Innovation Brings Foldable 3D Printer TeeBotMax

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The world of open source collaboration is continuing to produce a stream of new ideas, all of which will continue to be improved upon, some of them useable now and some of more akin to the high fashion seen on the runway at Paris fashion week that looks great but isn’t really for everyday wear. One interesting contribution to this perpetual innovation machine is the TeeBotMax, a foldable 3D printer made available by Instructables user tutuemma.

image4Quick to credit all of the great ideas that led up to this latest development, tutuemma thanks the open source developers the world over for sharing their ideas so freely. Always good to give a little shout out to the open source community, it helps keep the energy going. Open source karma has got to be the best kind to have these days.

The idea behind the TeeBotMax was to create a printer that was simple to build and could be easily transported without sacrificing its printing quality.

Part I. Simple to Build

An eerily silent animation walks the viewer through the complete process of building the printer. Obviously, the ‘simple to build’ aspect is really in relation to the difficulty associated with being an expert and building a printer, not the type of simplicity that would, let’s say, have my mother up and building one in a weekend. That’s okay though, my mother wouldn’t really be that interested, whereas people who are will find this process much less daunting than that required for a lot of other machine assemblies; relative to those who’d want to build it, the simplicity is great.

Part of the simplicity is also built in because of the materials required to create the machine. The frame itself is made out of aluminum square pipe, something that can be picked up at your local hardware store. A thoroughly detailed PDF of the build plan includes all of the information that you could possibly want when approaching a project like this, including a list of supplies each described and carefully written instructions for their assembly.

image3Part II. Easy to Transport

The TeeBotMax is foldable, meaning that it can be taken down to a more manageable size for ease of transport while still providing a large enough print bed to make it broadly functional. It won’t fit in your pocket, but it’s only about 9” tall once it has been folded flat. The width and length stay the same as the aluminum pipe can’t be bent – much like an octopus can fit through any space larger than its beak, this printer doesn’t have to be any bigger than its frame when it is collapsed.

image2Part III. Good Quality Printing

The Instructables site includes a video demonstrating the capabilities of the TeeBotMax 3D printer as it produces a vase. It is also when I learned that the real name of tutuemma was Emmanuel Adetutu, something that absolutely shattered my vision of a guerrilla ballerina 3D print guru that I had derived from the username. The high-speed video shows the printer easily and artfully producing a 14 cm high vase in about two and a half hours.

A second video shows the printer creating using flexible filament. A word of warning… turn down your volume, this one actually has sound… also, if you get motion sick, you might just want to take my word for it. The machine produces the cutest little green flexible thingie (I think it’s the letters T&T) that you could want.

Overall, both of the products that were created look to be nicely made and the advantages provided by the transportability and ease of construction make this something you definitely should check out. I hope that anybody who builds one will let us know so we can keep track of this exciting innovation as it moves along. Let us know if you do over at the TeeBotMax Foldable 3D Printer forum at 3DPB.com!

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