I remember when I was a child, my grandfather had a Polaroid camera. For some reason it fascinated me to no end that he could take a photo, and within a minute or so, have that photograph in hand, rather than having to wait for it to be developed at the local convenient store. Fast forward 20 years and the photography world is now overrun by digital cameras, cameras able to render photos on a computer screen a split second after they have been captured. While some photographers still prefer film, it is digital that is preferred by most.
For one man, named Arvid Larsson, he, like me, also has always been fascinated by Polaroid cameras — so much so, that he considered buying one of his own. That is until he realized just how expensive the photos were. This got him thinking about the potential of printing photos on a thermal printer.
“That way I knew it would lower the cost for each print,” Larsson tells 3DPrint.com. “I didn’t, however, realize how cheap it would be. I made some calculations and realized it would only cost about 0.01 SEK (0.001159 USD) per print. This got me very excited!”
Lasson, who is a 21-year-old student at Linköping Univeristy in Sweden, did not have a job this summer, so he had plenty of time to try to conceptualize and build a camera that would be able to instantly print photos using a thermal printer.
“The camera is based on a Raspberry Pi mini computer, running linux, connected to a small camera and a thermal printer,” Larsson tells us. “It is powered by a 12000 mah usb battery pack which lasts for a very long time. The large battery makes it possible to also charge a cell phone from the one usb port on side of the camera. When the photo button is pressed the camera snaps a photo and immediately prints it. If the button is pressed a bit longer it will print multiple copies of the same photo — so that you can give one copy to a friend. If the record button is pressed it will record a video but of course it can’t print the video. The video and photos i stored on the chip.”
The case of the camera has been 3D printed, based on a model Larsson made using Tinkercad, with some tips from his friend, artist Anna Kristensson. Once the design was complete, Larsson emailed his model to another friend who owns a 3D printer, before having Kristensson paint and varnish it the final print.
Other than the the 3D printed outer body, the camera is made up of the aforementioned Raspberry Pi A+, a Pi Camera, a thermal printer, a usb battery pack and some interchangeable lenses, as well as a few buttons and wires. It cost him a mere $170 to create, although he says he could have saved even more money had he elected to use a smaller battery.
As for how well it works, as you can see in the video below, its performance is pretty good. Fabricated thanks to a man with an idea, a 3D printer, and various electronics, this camera can take and print 10 photos for just 1 penny. What do you think about this creation? Would you have done anything different? Discuss in the Raspberry Pi Thermal Instant Camera forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video and some additional photos below.