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Brilliant new 3D printer folds up like a briefcase, prints dozens of different materials

Whenever you read about the latest innovation in 3D printing technology, it’s usually about a printer that’s smaller, faster, higher resolution, or prints in some kind of exotic new material. It’s not often that something completely new and different pops up, but every once in a while, a new printer comes along that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Focus is one of those printers.

Created by Dutch design firm 3D By Flow, Focus is a multi-material 3D printer that’s designed to fold flat and be carried around like a briefcase. Sure, we’re not entirely sure why you’d need a portable 3D printer, but that doesn’t make the contraption any less impressive. We’ve seen small form factor machines before, but Focus is the first printer we know of that’s specifically designed for easy transport.

That’s not the only trick it’s got up its sleeve, either. Somehow, despite the fact that it’s completely collapsible, it’s also more capable than most fused-filament fabrication printers currently available. How? Focus is equipped with an interchangeable extruder system, which allows it to print in a massive range of different materials. In addition to standard thermoplastics like ABS and PLA, the machine can also print with wood, bio-rubber, nylon, bronze, ceramic, and even edible substances like chocolate or cream cheese.

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Not impressed yet? Well it gets better. Even with all these collapsible and interchangeable parts, Focus doesn’t require any kind of calibration or complex setup. When you’re ready to print, you simply fold open the printer, attach the extruder of your choice, and feed the machine your print files. The extruders affix themselves to the machine magnetically, and the print platform is completely stationary, so Focus doesn’t require any sort of calibration — it’s ready to go with just a couple button presses.

And the best part? It’s on Kickstarter. 3D By Flow launched a crowdfunding campaign for Focus earlier this week, and if you back the project now while it’s still in the early stages, you can lock down a portable printer of your own for a pledge of about $2,253. If all goes as planned and the campaign meets its funding goal, the creators expect to start shipping as early as October.