This is a beginners guide to making custom cases with laser cutting. Laser cutting is ideal way to customize any case made of plastic or metal. All you have to do is draw your design on a computer, copy an image, or scan a hand drawn image and convert it to vector art.
By laser cutting a design you can create clean and intricate designs that are too complex or time consuming to creating by hand. You can cut smooth curves and even engrave text or logos with precision accuracy. Once you have your design, reproduction is easy!
Today we are going to create a custom computer case.
You will need:
- Vector Editing Software Best: Autocad or Illustrator Free: (Inkscape, Drawplus, Karbon, Avairy)
- Textured Plexiglass Panels (clear plastic to diffuse light)
- 1/16" Black Acrylic Plastic
- Glue for plastics or Epoxy for Acrylic
Step 1: Create Your Vector Art
I use Illustrator, but any vector editing program should be able to convert your image to a vector file. A vector file creates your image with lines and shapes based on mathematical expressions. In this way all art in your document is structured in a way that describes solely how the vector should be drawn/cut. This is all done so that your image can be read by whatever machine your using to cut.
1. You should make a copy of your image just in case you make a mistake.
2. Size your image appropriately to your case. That means measure your case! (I made a paper sketch and covered the case and lined everything up)
3. Convert your image to black & white (makes it easier for your software)
4. Use the tracing feature in your software to convert your image to vector lines. Some programs can adjust the sensitivity. (play with the sensitivity until you have the desired result.
5. Touch up your vector art until it is perfect. (delete extra lines and clean up curves)
Adjust the settings to your laser cutter and get ready to cut your image.
Step 2: Cut and Assemble
Cut your design. (You can choose to save the cut out pieces for another project!)
1. You can get different textures of plexiglass panels depending on your need or just use clear acrylic plastic. (I got mine from the end cuts at "Tap Plastics".
2. Glue the end cuts onto the backside of your laser cut design (it doesn't have to be pretty on the inside of the case). Glue the flat side of the end cut plastic to your design to make a good seal. You do have the option to cut this too if you want to make it flush.
3. Once you have your design completed on your plastic you will have to set it in your case.
I roughly cut out a 7" x 18" rectangle out of the case and attached my artwork by gluing it to the outside.
(Make sure you let the glue dry)
Step 3: Finished Project
Congratulations, this is the end my my instructable.
If you are interested in the lighting, here is what I used:
- 4 Red, Ultra Violet, Pink, Yellow, and Blue LED Lights- 5mm pre wired with resistors 12V ($9)
- 4 Computer Molex 4 Pin Power Supply Y Splitter Cable ($1.50)
1. All I did was solder the LED's into one side of the splitter cables.
2. After the soldering I plugged the Molex connectors in with my fans and mounted the LED's.