Enclosure build for my Prusa i3 – Part 1

Recently, I’ve not been performing as much 3D printing as I’d like.  Mostly, that is because the 3D printer enclosure I’ve been building has turned into a bit of a storage area, meaning any time I want to use it I have to clear it all out.

Printer and enclosure

I promise there is a 3D printer in there somewhere!

Base Enclosure

I’m in the process of trying to complete the enclosure in order to force myself not to just dump stuff on top of it, and thus hopefully increase the amount I use printer.  The enclosure so far has been built out of a pair of IKEA Lack tables stacked on top of each other, an option that has become quite popular with those seeking to build DIY 3D print enclosures.  I took a spare length of the smooth rod I used to build my printer with and cut some small lengths to use as pins to hold the legs in place.

I’ve purchased some clear acrylic panels to fit onto the sides to help prevent drafts while printing as well as helping trap the heat in during printing to improve the quality of the prints.  The panels I purchased are 5mm thick, which is probably overkill for this but I thought I’d play it safe and get panels that would be very sturdy.  I’ve cut all the panels to size, with each one tailored to the particular side it will go on as the legs of the top table are not completely straight on each side.

cleared enclosure

The enclosure once all the extra stuff was cleared out and the side + rear acrylic panels temporarily fitted with tape.

Finishing the Panels

I’ve since also purchased some magnetic cupboard door catches to hold each panel in place.  All I need is to get some wood to around the edge to embed the magnets in and seal the panels.

The only thing that is proving difficult for me right now with the acrylic panels is choosing handles.  I want the panels to be flush with the edge of the tables, however I also do not want any handles sticking out.  That means that my only real option is to use recessed handles.  Unfortunately, I’ve not had much luck finding any I like so it is looking like I’m going to have to print my own ones.

Thankfully I’ve recently begun learning 3D CAD modelling so in the end I modelled a simple recessed handle that I can print off.  I intend to give the finished handles a chrome finish as I feel this will look better then the plain printed handles I’ll get off the printer.

Enclosure Organisation

The enclosure itself will be split into 3 distinct sections.  Under the bottom table I will have a storage area, the design of which I have yet to decide upon.  In the middle is where the printer will sit, enclosed by the aforementioned acrylic panels.  Finally, on top is where the electronics and filament will sit.

The filament storage will be a simple design, with a fold-down drawer on the front that should be wide enough to take 3 spools of filament.  The filament will go down a hole in the centre of the enclosure that I have yet to drill.

The electronics will be off to one side and will have the power supply, RAMPS board, Raspberry Pi running Octoprint, and some switches to operate the LED strip lighting I’ll be fitting as well as extraction fans and air filtration fans (all yet to he fitted as well).  For now, until I have the electronics section built I will have it all right beside the printer itself to allow me to keep printing.

printer electronics

The power supply, Raspberry Pi + 5 inch LCD, and RAMPS board.

The central enclosure will contain the printer itself as well as a camera attached to the Raspberry Pi to monitor prints, and LED strip lighting to illuminate it all.  I have found a model on Thingiverse for an air scrubber that I’m going to print out and add in to help clear up the fumes given off from ABS as it prints.

I still haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do exactly for the underneath of the enclosure.  At the front I’m thinking of either shelves or drawers, and then perhaps an open area behind for general storage.  The underneath area will be the last part that I’ll work on for the enclosure as it is the least important to the functionality of the 3D printer.

Next Steps

The next stage now is going to be working on the top of the printer.  I’ve already started tracing out the rough layout for the filament storage and electronics section.  Then I’ve got to work out where to cut holes on order to allow the filament and electronics cables to go down into the main enclosure.  In addition, I’ve got to work out whereabouts the power supply and Raspberry Pi will be relative to each other as well; especially as I’m looking to mount the LCD at a 45° angle.

I’ll also be getting my printer re-calibrated in order to start printing the handles so I can finish the acrylic panels.  And I will need to print off some parts for the filament holder, which I may end up modelling myself.

Thanks for reading this post.  If you have any suggestions or questions about my enclosure, or want to share your experience building your own, then please leave a comment.

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