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Custom 3D printer enclosure - part 1 of 2
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Published
Jul 05 2020 by FaTe
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Quick jump
With limited space I cannot go down the normal route for enclosures that tend to be the Ikea route or similar but are fairly large. 3D printer enclosures help with a variety of issues from the most obvious of keeping dust and dirt off the printer, however the main purpose is to keep the air temperature around the printer (ambient temp) higher than normal.

When the printer is running and laying filament on the hot bed the temperature differences between the filament (160c-240c) to the bed (60c-110c) to the Air temp means the filament can contract too quickly from thermal shock. This leads to prints warping or lifting off the bed during a print. By keeping the ambient temp up means the filament cools down slower, preventing thermal shock and leading to much better prints.

The main materials used are:

3mm UV reactive green acrylic
3mm thick foam-board
1.5mm Aluminium L-lengths
M3 hex slotted bolts
M3 washers & nuts
Green vinyl tape
/theme/3D printer enclosure/1 sketch dimensions
I wanted an enclosure that hugs the printer but in some places cabling becomes a problem to not end up pushing against sides leading to fatigue and wire breakages later on. Additional having a printer spool inside isn't possible, however filament moisture issues already meant a second project along side this one was required.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/2 aluminium l bracket
I wanted to use aluminium L bracket at 1.5mm thickness for the supporting structure.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/3 printed base supports
I designed some base feet for the aluminium uprights. These are compression push fit and don't require adhesive at all.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/4 frame test fit
I'm using M3 bolts everywhere on this enclosure simply because I love how it looks. The top and right side are both 3MM thick foam board. Mainly because acrylic on the top would sag over time and I don't want the light shining out of the window on the right with a UV green... it'll attract flies to the window.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/5 bed cable solution
To solve the problem of the heated bed wires pushing further back than the case allows by designing an area where it can push through. Its a simple 2 piece design with a box epoxied to the back sealed and a fascia front to hide the glue. It's air tight and allows the wire ample space in and out without catching OR being moved during its motion, in essence its like there is no case at all.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/6 bed cable side view backbox
A side view of the back box shows exactly how the bed can freely move.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/7 vinyl covering
Now I know the case fits its time to tidy things up a bit. I used old wood from other builds to throw this cabinet together so the top didn't look the best. Some green vinyl strip laid with soapy water then squeezed out flat with a credit card inside a cloth made the job simple enough. Looks a lot tidier than white wood with a bunch of old screw holes in it.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/8 enclosure door hinged
Now the printer can go back on its 40cm x 40cm paving slab upon foam (massively reduces noise), the enclosure feet supports I designed screwed down into the bench in their final position. Also the front door has now been fitted.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/9 custom psu bracket support
The other part of the puzzle is the Power Supply Unit (PSU). It cannot be housed inside the enclosure so I designed a custom bracket to fit its original mounting points. The only thing to consider is the PSU on my printer has the power cable come out of the bottom, so it needed a raise with a pass through slot.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/10 psu fitted bespoke bracket
The PSU fitted in place, perfectly fits with no slack. It puts the master power switch out of the hot temperature environment and will keep the PSU cooler.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/11 direct drive extruder mod
With the Ender 3 printer the extruder stepper motor is fixed to the frame and requires a PTFE/teflon tube to connect it to the hot end. A direct drive is more effecient and has less play in the feed. Thankfully Blyckert on thingiverse created a bracket that allows this mod for free!

View Blyckerts design on Thingiverse.com here
/theme/3D printer enclosure/12 control panel stepdown switch fan
Now back to the front area where above the door will go the control panel. I want lights and an extractor fan on this case. The extractor fan is ONLY for use after a print to help bring the temp down when done. The PSU gives out 24v and I require 12v. So a 24 to 12v step down with a house light switch fitting gives me everything I require to control both aspects.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/13 foamboard vinyl covered
The foam-board front also received the same green vinyl as the table top.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/14 control panel fitted
The front panel now fitted in place only leaves fascia fronts left to do!
/theme/3D printer enclosure/15 custom light switch fascia
So first a custom laser cut light switch fascia for lights / fan.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/16 xt60 y cable power cable mod
To power the control board we need to tap the PSU output. So an XT-60 Y cable adaptor allows the PSU to pass through power to the printer as normal but also provide an output via the 150cm cable length.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/17 power cable mod fitted
With the Y cable fitted now everything has power and is nicely tidied away at the back.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/18 inside top enclosure electronics
Inside the top of the case can see how the power from PSU plugs in.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/19 custom 3d fan grill cover
Next I need a fan grill cover to stop cats from being able to potentially stick paws in there. The flow rate for the fan is not at all important as the 80mm fan being used is powerful enough. So I designed a bespoke fan grill cover to test the limits of the new setup. This cover grill is only 3mm thick with a 1mm step up between base and the 3D text lettering. It requires bridging a gap over the fan and not a full surround. So I add in a few extra "FaTe" texts here and there
/theme/3D printer enclosure/20 front fascia finished
Now its nice and safe for cats and all tidied up!
/theme/3D printer enclosure/21 leds fitted
Night mode with lights on, the door uses simple Velcro to secure shut. You can see even in lit conditions the sides of the UV reactive perspex already illuminate pretty well.
/theme/3D printer enclosure/22 3d printer bespoke encosure demo night
But in full dark conditions with the door closed and printing running it looks epic. Its very quiet, easy to see whats going on and my prints since completion have all been exceptionally better with far less fails than ever before. Not only that but the footprint of the enclosure means it didn't occupy half the room.

As for filament feed, well watch this space for part 2!
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