Emmanuel Gilloz, a self-described "designer-geek-idealist" has invented the FoldaRap, a foldable version of the open-source RepRap 3D printer. While it's more of a fold flat 3D printer, as it requires assembly rather than simply unfurling like an ironing board, it's an impressive and creative direction for 3D printers to take. It's not difficult to image being able to carry one of these with some raw plastic to a developing country or impoverished area, hooking it up to a generator, and printing out whatever's needed locally.
France-based Gilloz spent over 500 hours developing the FoldaRap, and acknowledges the benefits of open-source:
Fortunately I could build upon the shoulders of others. To perpetuate that virtuous circle I also redistributed everything, since the very beginning, under the same open-source license. I also wanted to include a detailed BOM (Bill of Materials), a thing that I wish I could have seen more often in other projects.
...I designed the FoldaRap to be as easy as possible to build : you need few tools, and there is no distance to check during the assembly thanks to the push-fit strategy, making it easier to build than the previous models. While today it take a week to construct a classic RepRap and print something correct, the FoldaRap can be built in a day or two. With a kit well made we may even lower that time to few hours.
After applying for developmental funding on crowdsourcing site Ulule, a French version of Kickstarter, Gilloz was nearly 220% funded at press time. The seed cash will go towards enabling him to sell kits at more affordable rates (by bulk-purchasing the necessary components) as well as developing future prototypes. A FoldaRap would be bound to get you hassled at the airport security line, but it would be neat to see gaggles of digital manufacturing geeks all toting FoldaRaps as they jet from one convention, or community in need, to another.