Focus: a portable and multi-material 3D printer

"byflow" foldable 3D printer


 Editorial Staff

 13 July 2015

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Focus: a portable 3D printer that can print plastic, ceramic, bronze, and even food

We have been seeing a lot on the 3D printing market lately. But we haven’t yet seen something like this.

"byflow" foldable 3D printer

Focus is a foldable and multi-material 3D printer created by Dutch company 3D By Flow. It looks like a briefcase, so you can easily carry it around.

Its innovation doesn’t only lie in its shape, but it has several features that not all the current 3D printers have.

Exchangeable extruders

Focus is equipped with an interchangeable extruder system, which gives you the possibility to print in a wide range of materials.

The filament extruder can print ABS, PLA, laywood and bio-rubber; the paste extruder prints with all pastes that go through a small needle, like ceramic and porcelain; the granulate extruder prints with granulate plastics, even the recycled ones.

The extruders are fixed by magnet and only one connector, which allows the user to change and connect them in a quick and easy way.

No calibration and stationary print bed  

You won’t need to spend extra time for calibration with this printer. The print-platform is fixed and there’s only one button measuring the z height of the extruders.

Moreover, it is equipped with a pre-heated, isolated and stationary print bed, which results in much more accuracy, especially when printing with more delicate and softer materials like ceramic, or chocolate.

The company

Printed objects of different materials

Printed objects of different materials. Photograph:

3D By Flow was founded in 2014 by Floris Hoff, a young industrial product designer who was also one of the co-developers of the 3D printer for chocolate at TNO.

He was able to found the company thanks to the experience acquired at FabLab Maastricht where he worked as volunteer and conducted the research that made the creation of Focus possible.

Frits Hoff, Managing Director at 3D By Flow and Manager at FabLab Maastricht, stated in a recent interview with PlugnMake:

“3D By Flow is a foldable 3D printer. As a FabLab we often go to fairs and schools and, now, taking the 3D printer with you is easy. Schools also say that it’s nice that you can store it in a safe way.

It’s easy to run: you can use an SD card, connect it wireless or with a USB cable. The design is completely different from other printers: you don’t need to calibrate it anymore, which is one of the biggest problems of 3D printers.

Many people asked us, ‘since I can print only plastic, why should I buy a 3D printer?’ With 3D By Flow, changing the extruder is easy: one could use the paste extruder, the filament extruder, or the granulate one. This way you can print in several materials: ceramic, bio-plastic, bio-rubber, silicone, and even food.”

3D By Flow recently launched a Kickstarter campaign with the aim of raising €50,000 to increase production, guarantee worldwide delivery, and to continue upgrading the printer.

Despite being awarded by Kickstarter team members with a Staff Pick for Technology, the campaign didn’t reach the desired goal and it ended up with nothing but a few supporters who can possibly still purchase the printer.

Luckily, the company was recently selected for the Startup bootcamp in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Selected among 20,000 startups in high-tech hardware, 3D By Flow became one of the 11 startups who will be guided for 3 + 3 months in business development.

We are not sure why the goal of the campaign was not met. Maybe there is no real need for a foldable printer, or maybe the company put too much accent on the printer’s ability to prepare food, which is something that might interest more professional chefs and gourmet restaurants.

Whatever the reason is, we want to wish the company best of luck with such an innovative printer that can make users’ life much easier with a wider range of possibilities.