With the advent of 3D printing, it’s been long anticipated that the technology would be used to print a laptop. Pi-Top is a small team commercialising this with laptop printing kits. However they aren’t profit pushers. Their aim is to teach transferable skills so beginners will understated phython coding and be able to make their own electronics from scratch without a kit.
Unfortunately to get these skills and build a laptop there is a financial commitment. The estimated final costs of purchasing and using the RocStock V2 Max Kit printer is $1200 – slightly higher than most basic, preassembled laptops. Also there is a time commitment of learning skills and creating the laptop.
“Each Pi-Top Kit comes equipped with an injection-moulded case and 3D printer STL files compatible for all print bed sizes. Pi-Top also supplies printed circuit boards, a battery, keyboard, trackpad, 13.3” HD LCD screen, WiFi adapter, DC wall plug, and other essential odds and ends. It also comes with complete build instructions. The kit should cost under $300, though the final price hasn’t yet been set.
The Pi-Top case can be printed in small pieces and assembled. If a user has a large print bed, Lozano said they could print the whole laptop in it. Originally, the Pi-Top was printed vertically, but now it can also be done horizontally and at shallow angle surfaces. Unfortunately, print times can take upwards of 50 hours, according to Dunwoody, which dramatically increases the potential for error.
“To counteract this,” Dunwoody said, “we had to take shifts through the night to monitor the print so that any jams, blockages, filament entanglement, and so on, could be dealt with before it caused problems. The case has now been upgraded so that it can be printed much easier with minimal maintenance and a much shorter print time.”
If you’re a little worried about getting Razberry Pi to work with Pi-Top’s printed hardware, Lozano emphasized that the kit was built with beginners in mind. No soldering is required to build Pi-Top, so a beginner should expect to be able to complete the kit in about three hours.”