printrbot GO – airline travel triumph

Part 1 – Packin’

This is the blog post wherein I document the tragedy and/or triumph of traveling with the printrbot GO.  Follow along with me as I tempt fate.

 

it looks rugged, right? right?
it looks rugged, right? right?

So, I know the printrbot GO is like a suitcase, and I know I said I was totally going to carry it on a plane with me, but I kinda chickened out.  It doesn’t help that I’ve gone to town on the embellishment, but mostly I’m just fearful of getting stopped at security and somehow not being allowed to carry the thing on and not being prepared to check it.  I know, I’m a chicken.

pretty good fit
pretty good fit

I’m not so chicken as to not take the thing on vacation though.  I’m going to visit my folks in Alabama and my 9 and 12 year old nieces are gonna be there and I can’t stand to be the uncle that didn’t introduce them to 3d printing when it was still radically over-hyped. What kind of uncle would do that?

helpful note for the TSA
helpful note for the TSA

So instead I invested in a Pelican 1600 case with one inch of foam padding all around which turned out to be a pretty darn good fit.  It could’ve used two inches of padding for the large front and/or back surfaces, but I filled up that space with the bubble wrapped heated bed and (gulp) mirror and a few scraps of (large format) bubble wrap and, oh yeah, a note for the TSA.  This may be dumb.

bundle of tools
bundle of tools

I bundled up my assortment of little wrenches (hex and monkey), screwdrivers, ruler, disassembled filament holder, extra nozzles and plastic stick (very useful) in some bubble wrap and tucked the package in the side of the bot behind the gauges. This should keep the tools from rattling around too much at least. The partial spools of filament, digital caliper and paint scraper are going in my regular suitcase.

 

is it tools or is it packing?
is it tools or is it packing?

The drawer can’t close unless the X carriage (with extruder) is pretty nearly all the way at the top of its travel, but I decided that I didn’t really want all of its weight being supported by the 6 mm brass threaded rods, so I lowered it down incrementally until the body of the carriage was resting on the edge of the cut out in the side of the drawer when folded and locked.  This is not an easy thing to describe nor to take a picture of. I’m sure all of the one or two other people in the world that have a printrbot GO are like, “Oh yeah, that thing.” Anyway, I’m hopefully that the wood on wood support of the drawer will alleviate the natural tendency of the brass rods to just buckle under the delicate caresses of your friendly baggage handlers.

kinda jammed in there
kinda jammed in there

Then I also bungied the extruder to the brass rod on the far side to keep it from floating back and forth.

extruder strapped
extruder strapped

And last but not least, I bungied the PSU onto the sturdiest build platform I have (canvas on MDF) and tucked the acrylic platform in the back of the bot.  It’s not wrapped in anything, but can’t really do much damage to itself or anything around it when everything is closed up (I hope).

power supply and extra build platform
power supply and extra build platform

My wife is a little afraid it’s gonna get stolen, I’m a little afraid it’s gonna be destroyed.  Any bets?  Tune in for part 2 when we find out how it survived (or not) domestic airline travel as checked luggage.

***

Part 2 – Travel and Return

Success!  She arrived safe and sound and is now printing out a coffee cup cozy for my sister.  If I can just get the thing back to NYC intact in one week’s time, then I’ll change the title of this post to reflect its triumphant nature.

Ready for some deep south fabbing
Ready for some deep south fabbing

I spent a little while trying to print a fancy latte glass cozy for my sister, then designed an easier to print one and printed out a prototype (she’ll have to send me some actual measurements before I can make one for real). Then I printed  some bag clips for my folks, a few fun decorative vases (Slic3r’s spiral vase setting completely rules), two bracelets for my nieces and these fun 8-Bit Skull Boxes.

these worked
these worked

After a week of semi-successful making in Lower Alabama (100% successful as far as fun factor was concerned), I packed up the GO same as on the way down and entrusted her to TSA and Delta airlines once again.

When I got to LaGuardia, I was surprised to find MANY Pelican hard cases on the luggage carousel.  There were at least two other Pelican 1600 hard cases and no less than five other Pelican cases of various other sizes and shapes as well.

20130723_225333
who knew there were so many Pelicans?

When I opened the case to inspect the condition I was initially horrified to find the thermometer and hygrometer missing.

20130723_225621
WTF?

Luckily it turned out out that they had simply fallen out into the interior of the bot and were in fine condition still.  When I got her home I snapped one side of one of the clip mounts off when trying to refit the thermometer, but that’s a simple enough thing to print again (and improve).

All told, I’m gonna have to call the trip a success.  The bot held up remarkably well with the assistance of the sturdy Pelican 1600 hard case.  Maybe next time I’ll have the guts to try to carry it on instead.

5 thoughts on “printrbot GO – airline travel triumph”

  1. Great work! I have a printrbot simple which is much smaller. Do you reckon it would be alright if i took this on the plane as carry on luggage? Means that I don’t have to disassemble the printer, however I am worried that security will question me upon taking this on the plane since very few people know about the 3d printing phenomenon

  2. um.. cool, dude. but also… don’t forget to also be the uncle that plays soccer and goes swimming and remembers to put on sunscreen. Lobster uncle=not very cool.

    1. You’ll be delighted to know I was the uncle that rode all the slides at Shipwreck Island in Panama City Beach (including the zip line -> drop) and did not get sunburned. It rained a little in fact.

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