Introduction: 3d Printer Enclosure From Upcycled Furniture
Having recently acquired a 3d printer, i quickly noticed that, despite calibrations, there were a few temperature-related problems.
The chief among them ws the amount of time the bed took to heat up, the room was not able to hold the temperature unless the doors were shut and the curtains pulled - this lead to another problem, I was overheating!
We also had problems with layer delamination on larger prints in ABS - something that could be solved by keeping the printer in a warmer environment.
I had a few "Lack" tables from IKEA laying about, and noticed that when stacked atop each other, the printer fit almost exactly inside, this gave me the idea to create an enclosure for the printer, how hard could it be?
Step 1: Parts, Consumables and Tools
After doing some research, I decided on a few things that I wanted for the enclosure
- Transparent Windows on each side
- Removable Door, rather than Hinged for ease of assembly
- Extractor Fan to rapidly cool the environment
- Voltage and Temperature Readings
- Mounts for the Controller Board, Pi and Power Supply on the back
With this in mind, I went online and purchased the parts I needed to buy, and grabbed the STLs for parts I could print
- 2 IKEA Lack Tables
- 4x Arcrylic Sheet 400x450x5mm
- 12v LED Strip Lighting Reel
- 120mm Computer Fan
- 12v Digital Thermometer Display
- 3-30v Digital Voltmeter Display
- 2x Round Rocker Switches w/ LED
- 8x Neodymium Magnet 10x3mm
- 16x Corner Braces
- Wood Glue
- Epoxy Adhesive
- Silicone Sealant
- Wood Screws
- Rubber Grommets
- Various M3 and M4 Bolts & Nuts
- Heatshrink Tube, Various Sizes
- 12v Wires
- Hot Glue
- 4x Wooden Pins
Many of the tools and much of the advice used in this build were provided by my loca Makerspace SoMakeIt Southampton.
Step 2: Frame
First, get your two Tables, turn one of them upside down.
You want to drill the holes off-center in the bottom of the legs, as when it comes to drilling holes in the top of the other table, there is a metal screw that is used to attach the table top to the leg. Once you've drilled the holes in the bottom of the legs, use these holes as a guide to drill into the top of the other table.
Apply some wood glue to the wooden pins and insert them into the holes, make sure they're in tight. Then apply some glue to the other end of the pin, and some to the top of the table. Place the tables atop one another and using some gentle force, press down on the top table until the pins are fully seated. Don't be too vigorous with this assembly until it has dried overnight.
The added bonus of attaching the two tables together was a massive increase in stability, which should help to reduce the vibrations on your printer.
Step 3: Left Wall
This can be the right wall if you'd prefer - where I will have the printer sitting means easier access to these controls on the left side.
First, mark out the holes before you start drilling - you want to make sure you have enough room to fit everything.
The items that will go on this side are:
- 120mm Fan
- 2x Rocker Switch
- Voltmeter and Thermometer
When drilling the arcrylic, you need to make sure that the bits you're using don't catch - this may cause the arcrylic sheet to shatter, which wouldn't make for a very good enclosure. Do this by starting with a 2mm/3mm bit, and working your way up to the size you need.
For the larger circles, use the hole saw with a bit in the middle to center it. Go slow, and be careful not to let the blade stick - the arcrylic will melt around the blade and possibly stick to it.
For the square holes (the voltmeter and thermometer), I used a rotary tool with a cutting disc.
The third image is just for example, do not remove the protective film yet.
This would all have been a lot easier with a Laser Cutter - I would strongly recommend using one of those if you have access to it.
Step 4: Front, Back and Right Walls
These walls are much easier than the Left wall.
The front wall only needs eight holes to attach the handles by. Place the handles on the sheet to mark where the holes need to be and drill them.
The Right wall can be left as-is
The Back wall needs mounting holes for the power supply and Print Controller. It also needs a hole for the PTFE filament tube to feed through, and a hole below the print controller for the wires.
Step 5: Assembly
Now that the wood glue has had some time to dry (At least for me, this was the beginning of day 2 of the build)
First, put some screws in to mount the power rack - I intend for the enclosure to be fairly self-contained, only needing one power lead and ethernet cable. Be careful when drilling the pilot holes, as the Lack is very cheaply manufactured - the walls are extremely thin. If you have access to some, expanding foam could be injected to provide something for the screws to grip better.
Then you'll want to measure and drill holes to mount the Corner Braces - these will be used to hold the arcrylic sheets. Mine were placed 3" from the legs, such that the arcrylic sheet would be held around 1" from the edge of the table. There are braces on the top and bottom table.
You may need to cut/sand your arcrylic sheets down to fit in the gap, I needed to remove about 5mm of material from the short edge of all of my sheets.
Hold the sheet against the corner braces and mark where the holes need to be drilled to fit the bolts. Drill the holes out, being careful not to shatter the arcrylic, and perform a test fit of your arcrylic before you remove the protective sheets.
During the test fit, I used some hot glue around the braces to provide some more stability.
Do not drill holes in the front arcrylic sheet - we shall be mounting magnets in the next step.
Step 6: Front Door Magnets
Use the epoxy to attach four magnets to some corner braces - I put the magnet on the inside of the brace, you will get a stronget attraction, and therefore a more robust door if the magnet is on the outside of the brace.
Once the epoxy has set, screw the braces down to the frame (the magnets may want to steal your screw, be careful!) and epoxy them in place. I used masking tape to stop the top braces from unsticking while the epoxy set.
Then, peel the protective film from the front door arcrylic, and place it against the braces. Mark the position of the magnets with a marker. Epoxy four more magnets to the arcrylic. At this point you should decide, based on the strength of the magnets, which side is the front of your door. Attach and tighten the handles.
Step 7: Wiring
Cut three strips of the lights, and solder some wire to one end, using red for positive and black for ground.
Using some 12v rated wire, and some heatshrink, I connected the three strips in parallel, and routed them towards the left side of the case, where the other wiring was taking place.
Following the diagram, I connected all the components, leaving two wires for 12v input and ground that would connect to the 12v power supply the printer runs from.
Step 8: Power, Pi and Brain
Peel the protective film off of the back of the rear arcrylic sheet and attach the Power Supply and Print Controller.
Use Epoxy to attach the Pi cradle.
Fix the panel to the back of the enclosure, and re-connect the wires from your printer to the controller. If you have an LCD, it is a better idea to run this cable ontop of the enclosure and fix it there.
Peel the film off of and attach the right panel once you have the wiring done.
Step 9: Final Assembly, Power Test and Sealing
After tightening all of the bolts that attach the walls to the frame, rin around the edges of the arcrylic with the silicone sealant. When applying silicone sealant, you're compressing the silicone slightly, so after you release the trigger, silicone will keep coming out of the nozzle. Bear this in mind less you make a mess!
Without connecting the power supply to your printer, attach the two wires from your enclosure wiring and run a test. Make sure that all of the components work and the voltage reading is stable.
Once the silicone has dried, you are ready to test your enclosure. Slice up something small and hit print. You should notice that the bed heats up a lot quicker (it cut the time mine took by about 20 minutes) and the temperature in the enclosure should rise slowly. Mine topped out at around 40c.
After the print is done, I tested the extractor fan, which was less than exciting - as I had forgotten to include an intake. Cracking open the door allowed for some airflow and the temperature inside quickly went back to room temperature.
With the enclosure, the room the printer is in is at a much more comfortable temperature, which is by far the biggest benefit in the summer months. I have yet to do a long print inside it, but I shall update this with the results