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TOME - Portable 3D Printer

Portable and self contained FDM 3D printer designed to be the ideal tool for field hospitals short on supplies and nomadic engineers alike.

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This project was created on 06/10/2014 and last updated 15 days ago.

The overall dimensions for this project are subject to change but are currently 4" THK x 8" x 11" when folded, with a print volume of a 5" cube. The TOME will have an integrated battery pack (Battery chemistry has not been decided) and a removable filament reel cartridge. Current plans are to make this a PLA only printer with a heated bed for better adhesion. Custom designed XYZ drive and extruder, full CAD and assembly drawings will be available as components are finalized.

More to come!

Featured on: [ ] [ ]

Preliminary Goals: 

1. 4 Hours of print time on battery, 6 with extended battery pack

2. Two filament cartridges: Standard will hold enough filament to print a solid 3" cube, extended will hold enough filament to print a solid 5" cube

3. Accessible hot end that is easy to remove and replace

4. Wireless printing and distributed printing. TOME printers will be Wifi enabled to allow a desktop application to distribute larger files among several printers. There has also been discussion about allowing "Print sharing" where TOME users can make their TOMEs position be shared and allow other users to request prints. 

5. Auto leveling bed: An actual auto-level feature will enable printers to work remotely with minimal operator interference. 

The goals for this project may evolve to encompass more features as this project matures. 

  • 2 × NEMA 14 Stepper Motor X, Y, and Extruder drive motors
  • 2 × NEMA 8 Stepper Motor Z- axis Drive motors
  • 3 × Sparkfun ROB-09454 IR distance sensor for end stops
  • 2 × Lower Motor Mount
  • 8 × M3x1.00 10mm Lg Socket Cap Screw Mcmaster: 91239A115
  • 8 × M2x1.00 10mm Lg Socket Cap Screw Mcmaster: 91239A706
  • 2 × Anti-Backlash compression spring Mcmaster: 9657K306
  • 4 × Brass 1/4-20 UNC Hex Nut Mcmaster: 92676A029
  • 4 × X / Y Drive Axis Spindle Bearings Mcmaster: 638K17
  • 8 × #2-56 x 0.13 Lg Socket Head Scr Mcmaster: 91251A072

See all components

Project logs
  • NEMA 14 issues

    15 days ago • 0 comments

    So I worked on assembling one full side of the Z-axis today and ran into a few issues. The first is that our NEMA 14 steppers that were purchased from Pololu have a slightly longer shaft than the original batch from an alternative supplier. I should have measured them prior to any machining but didn't think to do so. The model has been updated to reflect the new shaft length, the only major change is that the X-axis square drive has a slightly shorter engagement with the coupler. Once the parts are modified I can install the last bearing and begin assembling the clamshell prototype. 

    Here is the full assembly with the backpane, the top bearing mount appears to be floating in this image because I had not yet opened up the dowel pin locating holes to the right dimension. 

    And here you can see the dowel pins inserted. This backplate is the original one I cut which is why it does not have holes to provide access to the guide rod clamping set screws from the back. I hate wasting material so I'll be adding these tomorrow on the drill press, the model has already been adjusted.

    I plan on uploading the following parts to GrabCAD this week since they have been prototyped and are unlikely to change:

    1.     Z-Axis Guide rods
    2.    Lower Motor Mount
    3.   Upper Bearing Mount
    4.   NEMA 14 Coupler
    5.   NEMA 8 Coupler
    6.   Spectraline Pully 

    The Z-axis clamshell still needs to be modified and prototyped before it will be ready for release. 

  • Z-axis Parts Finished

    17 days ago • 0 comments

    Preliminary prototype parts for the Z-axis (X-axis drive side) were completed today. I need to swap out the upper bearing mount and lower motor mounts as they were modified since the initial print. The goal for tomorrow is to have this side of the Z-axis running back and forth, with the ability to also run the X-axis spectra line pulley. 

    Progress has been slower the past few days than I was hoping, family and work tends to get in the way of projects. I'm hoping to have the opposing side of the Z-axis finished this weekend so that I can focus on the Y-axis truss that is causing so much controversy. 

    This weekend I will also be cleaning up this project, I think we have been doing a decent job of posting build/design updates. However I think the overall project description needs to be dramatically expanded, the BOM needs updating with all of the new parts. 

    Please post any comments and let us know what we can do to make this project better! 

  • Self Imposed Deadlines

    18 days ago • 0 comments

    So my self-imposed deadline of ordering Shapeways parts for the Z and X axis by 7/11 looks like it will be met! There is still clearly a ton of design work to be done, but I'll be purchasing the spectra line pulleys and Z-axis carriage to get a full side operational and run some preliminary testing. 

    There have been a few comments about injection molding in relation to this project. To be clear the parts WILL be injection molded if we choose to do a kickstarter, they are being 3D printed currently to expedite the build process. I have personally designed 34 injection molds to date, some of which were complex multi-part molds with collapsing internal mandrels (Worked in electronics packaging for a well known corp). Low run production is quite accessible for hobbyists in relation to injection molding, a Morgan press [ ] can provide more than enough pressure and injection volume to produce any of the parts for the TOME, I believe Techshop is equipped with a similar injection molding machine. We will be utilizing professional injection molding equipment with molds produced on our CNC machinery.

    Here you can see the Z-axis clamshell complete, I'm happy with the current design and I'll be reproducing this on the opposing side with a few tweaks to fit the Y-axis control hardware. I hope to begin work on the Y-axis gantry in order to clarify the design intent and validity. I have received several comments about the potential problems with a cantilever design but I am confident the FEA will support my current design. I will post the results for the FEA study when it is complete. 

    I still need to draw up the anti-backlash nut holder, but this is a simply part that can be FDM printed without degrading performance of the piece. 

    Corey was able to get most of the Z-axis hardware machined, just waiting on two metric drills to properly size the coupler holes for our stepper motors. Should have a prototype Z-axis running soon!

View all 21 project logs

Build instructions
  • 1

    3D printed parts can be found at this Shapeways Shop:


Dean Gouramanis wrote 2 days ago null point

StepperStack Revision 5 is tested and working flawlessly. Production starts next week. I will send a sample.

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samern wrote 16 days ago null point

Hi Philip. I love this idea and will be the first in line to buy/build one. Can you tell me if you plan to allow for the unit to be plugged in at the same time (e.g. in case it will be clear 4-6 hours of battery will not be enough)?

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Philip Ian Haasnoot wrote 15 days ago null point

Hi Samern, thanks for commenting.

The plan is to include a wall power adapter with the tome so that it can be run via a standard outlet for longer prints. The deciding factor for the power supply specs will depend on what is considered to be an acceptable charging rate.

Most likely we will supply the TOME with a 12V power supply which will give the community the option to upgrade to any suitable alternative power supply if they wish to have faster charging rates; The maximum charge rate will depend on what type of battery chemistry we ultimately come to an agreement on. I would still love to use LiFePo4 cells, however the power density makes it a more difficult chemistry to use for this application.

If you were the end user, what would an acceptable charge time be? Personally I think a 2-3 Hour charge time while not printing, and a 4-5h charge time while printing would be acceptable.

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samern wrote 15 days ago null point

Hi Philip,

Thanks for your response. I have no issue with your charging times. I think they are pretty standard for the sort of thing you are doing. Plus, if I leave it plugged in all the time and only take it off when I am truly going portable then it is what it is. It's too bad a USB's 5V is not enough to drive all the electronics, motors and hotend, but I think the charge time (and the power supply you provide) also is going to depend on whether one day you choose to allow for ABS as well as PLA. Heck if it were viable, I'd rig a solar panel to it and go totally green.....

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Philip Ian Haasnoot wrote 15 days ago -1 point

It's funny you bring up the Solar Panel idea, I actually was an engineering consultant for BioLite LLC and plan to illustrate how the TOME can be charged using alternative sources of power. Solar, BioLite stoves, wind, even pedal power would be usable to charge the device. I've also built several solar powered race boats and have experience with solar arrays. The charge time would vary depending on the Kw output of the solar array, I'm wondering now if it may be useful to include suggested alternative energy layouts for charging the TOME off-grid.

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Jasmine wrote 19 days ago null point

Hello Phillip, your project has been featured over on today.

Also, did you know you if you go to edit your project you can put links to other sites in the left hand side? It's a good way to show off where you have been featured.

Keep up the great work.

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Adam Fabio wrote a month ago null point

Desktop 3D printing is almost at a point where it's a "mature hobbiest" technology - but it would be great to see it make it's way into places where it can save lives. You've got a great idea in TOME, Thanks for submitting it to The Hackaday Prize! I love your CAD views, but don't forget about the real pictures are your parts take shape in the physical world.

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Philip Ian Haasnoot wrote a month ago null point

Thank you for the comment Adam. I think it is funny you should mention bringing our designs into the physical world as it is precisely what we began doing today. Corey and I have extensive backgrounds in manufacturing and the equipment necessary to fabricate the TOME in our personal inventory. Please keep up to date on our project, the cadence will be dramatically increasing very shortly.

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