Today, something slightly off-topic. This post is a short tutorial on how to build a heavy and solid 3D-printer enclosure. It uses a fully parametric design, where you can adjust the important dimensions – therefore it should work with a wide range of 3D-printer and materials.
Update 1: Added some photos, illustrating the process.
Update 2: Added more photos of the process.
The tools you need
- Fusion360 (Free for personal use, download here)
- For the wood boards:
- Tools to cut wood boards to exact and square dimensions.
- Hardware store with a board cutting service.
- For the acrylic glass:
- Tools to cut the sheets into exact shapes (CNC or laser)
- Alternatively, order them pre-cut (recommended).
- Four, short, adjustable metal feet/legs. A height of 50 – 150mm should work. I do not recommend casters.
- Pencil, meter, set square and some experience in woodworking.
- Power-drill with 4mm and 5mm ⌀ drills.
- Woodscrews with a countersunk head:
- 5mm × 50 mm (example)
- 4mm × 40 mm (example)
- Clamps, ideally some clamping squares.
I assume you already build a few objects out of wood, so I do not have to tell you how to cut wood or screw two boards together in a right angle.
My original design was made for an Original Prusa I3 MK3S printer.
Step 1: Chose the boards
Use heavy wood boards for the base, with a thickness from 20mm – 30mm. Do not use solid wood boards, but either plywood or particle boards. The base has two functions: It is used for storage of filament, but it provides the required stability to absorb vibrations from the printer.
The enclosure uses two of the heavy boards as bottom and top for stability, but lighter boards around the enclosure to make the best use of the enclosed space. Use boards with a thickness from 8mm – 12mm. Again, do not use solid wood, but either plywood, particle boards or similar.
It is important these boards will keep its dimensions and do not start to bend or buckle. The 3D-printer will produce some heat and therefore the enclosure will be exposed to a constant temperature change. Solid wood would be a really bad choice for this use case.
Now select two wood types and write down the thickness of each.
Step 2: Adjust the 3D Model
Download the 3D-Model and open it in Fusion 360.
Open the parameters in the model (Modify → Change parameters):
First, adjust the thickness for the base (Parameter BaseWoodThickness), then adjust the thickness for the enclosure (Parameter EnclosureFrameWoodThickness). Just click into the Expression field of the parameter and write your new value and unit. The model will adjust automatically.
Next, adjust the main dimensions:
- Start with the height of the adjustable feet/legs. Adjust the parameter FeetHeight.
- Next, chose the height of the platform, where the printer is placed. If you have a table with a height you are comfortable with, use this height. Adjust the parameter PlatformHeight.
- Now check the required dimensions of your 3D-printer. Make sure you add enough space around the printer for e.g. printer-bed movements, attached filament spools, etc.
- Write these dimensions down as width, depth and height.
- Add two times the thickness of the enclosure boards to the width and depth. Also, add two times the thickness of the boards of the base to the height.
- Adjust the last parameters:
- PlatformWidth ← width
- PlatformDepth ← depth
- EnclosureHeight ← height
At this point, the model should automatically be adjusted to the new dimensions. Check the timeline at the bottom of the windows for any errors or warnings. If you get some, check the parameters are in the valid ranges above.
Step 3: Extract the Dimensions
On the left side, you find all components in the object browser:
I numbered all required parts with a three digit number.
- Use a paper or your favourite spreadsheet program to note the dimensions of all components.
- Right-click on a component, e.g. “101 Bottom”, and select “Isolate” from the menu. Now you see just this component on the screen.
- Use the Inspect → Measure tool to extract the width and height of each required part.
- Write down the part number and measurements.
- Also, write down the thickness or material for each entry.
- Repeat for every component. Check each dimension twice!
- Now you can count boards of the same material and dimensions to simplify a material order.
Here an example table with all original dimensions:
|Part Names||Count||Thickness (mm)||Width (mm)||Height (mm)|
Step 4: Cut or order the boards
Now cut all boards to the noted dimensions, make sure the angles of the boards are perfectly square. If you ordered the boards pre-cut, check if the angles are square.
Add rounded corners to the acrylic glass, a radius of 5-10mm should be enough. This is especially important for the front door. Also, trim any sharp corners.
Step 5: Assemble the Base
Start with the frame of the box. Parts 101, 102, 103 and 104.
Fix two boards using clamping squares, drill holes and fasten the boards using a minimum five evenly spaced screws. Check the angle of the two boards before you continue.
Continue with the other boards until you get the box as shown above.
Now insert the back, part 107. You may need to remove some material if your boards are thicker as calculated.
Fasten the back board with evenly spaced screws around all four sides.
Add the shelves at your desired heights.
The most difficult way, with the best stability, is to screw the shelves into place from the sides. It requires you to mark the height of a shelf inside of the box and the centerline for the screws at the outside. If you are confident at woodworking, I recommend this method to add extra stability to the base.
Alternatively use brackets or (not recommended) pegs to fasten the shelves in the box.
Finally add the feet/legs to the base. Done!
Step 6: Assemble the enclosing
Start with the base plate and back side, parts 202 and 211.
Assemble the two boards using clamping squares or an angle bracket. Don’t tighten the screws too much, the angle doesn’t need to be perfect at this stage.
Now add the sides, part 201 and 203.
Fasten the two parts with two or three screws to the base plate. Make sure these parts are in a perfectly right angle to the base plate.
Prepare the top frame, part 212.
Now fasten the top frame, part 212 to the back plate, part 202.
Now fasten the left and right boards, part 201 and 203 to the back plate, part 202. Use 4mm screws to connect the thinner boards. Make sure everything is in a perfect right angle. Don’t fasten the left and right boards to the top frame yet.
Next add parts 204 and 205.
Fasten the two parts using screws at the base plate and top frame. Check if all parts are in a right angle to each other. Next, fasten parts 201 and 203 to the top frame, part 212.
Add the front panels, part 206 and 209.
Finally add the acrylic glass panels.
Best use soft transparent silicone sealant to fasten the two panels into place. If you use screws, make larger holes into the acrylic glass, to allow some wood expanding and shrinkage. If this fit is too tight, the glass may break.
Now check the fit of the top cover, part 213.
Drill holes in all four corners and add pegs to align the top cover with the top frame. With the pegs, the top cover can be easily removed if necessary.
Step 7: Add the front door
Fastening the front door should be the last step. I prepared a fully parametric design for 3D printed hinges. By default, they are designed to use M5 screws with cylindric heads, and 4mm wood screws. They should be work fine, but you may want to choose a different/own design.
- Print the four parts twice to produce two hinges.
- Assemble both hinges with the M5 screw as the axis.
- Fasten the two hinges to the wood panel on the front. Make sure they are attached in a perfect right angle and are flush with the wood.
Now place the enclosure on the back.
Carefully align the acrylic glass of the front door with even spacing around all four edges. Use masking tape to lock the glass in the right location. Now mark the locations of the holes for the hinge.
Drill the 6mm holes for the M5 screws of the hinge, this will give some room for an alignment of the glass plate.
Add a door knob of your favourite design to the right side of the door.
- Stack the enclosure on the base.
- Put the printer into the enclosure.
The two elements, the base and enclosure aren’t connected for a good reason. Add a heavy rubber mat between these two parts to decouple vibrations from the printer to the floor or the other way around.
I hope you enjoyed this short, off-topic tutorial and it inspired you to build your own enclosure for your 3D printer.
If you have any questions, missed any information, or simply want to provide feedback, feel free to comment below. 😄
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