3D Printer Enclosure and Standing Desk

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Introduction: 3D Printer Enclosure and Standing Desk

About: Designing, making, inventing and exploring from my tiny apartment workshop. Podcast co-host: "Into the Spotlight" and "CLAMP." @morleykert everywhere

This classy, cat-proof 3D printer enclosure doubles as a standing desk! It has plenty of room for my Prusa i3 MK3S (with the spool holder), as well as a generous storage compartment. Featuring a 25"x24" desktop, integrated LED lighting, full extension drawer slides and plenty of room to add a dehumidifier or other accessories!

The print area is fully enclosed with clear acrylic, providing a stable, draft-free print environment that reduces noise output. This project is easy to build with 2x4s and plywood, and simple details such as a dyed frame make it look good enough to put in your apartment or living room.


Check out the full build video here!

I designed this project in Fusion 360, and you can view/download the 3D model at the following link:
https://a360.co/39zFGzk

However, all of the relevant dimensions are included in this Instructable.


Let's get started!

Supplies:

Here's what you will need (in order of steps):

Four (4) x 8-foot 2x4s

Three (3) x 8-foot 1x1s or other small dimensional lumber for making stops

One (1) x 2'x4' sheet of 3/4" plywood (This will form the desktop and printer shelf. If you're going to leave these edges exposed, I would recommend splurging on some baltic birch or other premium plywood!)

One (1) x 2'x4' sheet of 1/2" plywood (This will form the top shelf. Same note as above)

One (1) x 2'x4' sheet of 1/4" plywood (This will form the back, and the edges will be hidden. I used luan plywood for this.)

Circular saw

Speed square - https://amzn.to/35OK9xc

Masking tape (to reduce tear out on plywood)

Jigsaw or keyhole saw, for cutting a hole to run the power cord - https://amzn.to/2NfkGX9

Handheld drill/driver - https://amzn.to/38OWVNZ

Pocket hole jig - https://amzn.to/2OhBES0

India Ink - https://amzn.to/32enRE5

Rags/old brush for applying India Ink

120-grit sandpaper

220-grit sandpaper

Finish (I used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish - Crystal Clear Semigloss)

Foam brush

2-1/2" pan-head screws or Kreg screws - https://amzn.to/3smoOEZ

1-1/4" pan-head screws or Kreg screws - https://amzn.to/2LxI55D

Clamps

Two (2) pairs of 20-inch full extension drawer slides - https://amzn.to/2Ojv1OQ

Double sided tape (for installing drawer slides and attaching power strip)

Level

Two (2) x 12-1/4" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (upper doors)

Two (2) x 30-1/2" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (lower doors)

Two (2) x 40-3/8" x 16-5/8" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (sides)

** I would recommend building the enclosure and measuring its actual dimensions BEFORE ordering the acrylic. Small variations in construction and materials may cause the above acrylic dimensions to not fit your enclosure. These were just the dimensions that worked for my enclosure. **

Short black framing screws (I used 7/16" #6 screws) for attaching acrylic sides and hinges - https://amzn.to/3bPaVcy

1-1/2" drywall screws, other black screws or woodscrews

Countersink drill bits - https://amzn.to/2LFKyek

One (1) six-foot length of black continuous hinge or 8-10 individual hinges

Tin snips (for cutting continuous hinge) - https://amzn.to/38X2w53

Small nuts and bolts for attaching hinges to acrylic doors

Eight (8) x 8x3mm magnets (for closures) - https://amzn.to/3bGZRhh

3/4" or shorter woodscrews for magnetic closure

5-minute epoxy - https://amzn.to/38TJLiG

Remote-controlled LED strip lights - https://amzn.to/38Ji6AO

Power strip

Zip ties for cable management

Four (4) x knobs (or be like me and design + 3D print your own!)

Note: The above links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional
cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Step 1: Cut 2x4s to Size

I used my circular saw against a speed square to cut the four 2x4s to size.

You can get all of these pieces out of four 8-foot 2x4s.


Here is the cut list:

Legs: Four (4) x 43-1/4"

Side Stringers: Four (4) x 15"

Feet: Two (2) x 20"

Back Stringer: One (1) x 20"

Dividers: Two (2) x 20"

Step 2: Cut Plywood Pieces to Size

The piece of 1/4" plywood will form the back of the enclosure. Since its edges will be hidden, they don't have to be the cleanest cuts in the world. At this point, you can also cut a hole in one corner of the 1/4" plywood piece for running a power cord into the enclosure (see step 16 for placement).


In my design, I left the edges of the plywood exposed for the desktop and shelves (1/2" and 3/4" plywood). I used baltic birch plywood for these pieces, and applied masking tape over each cut line before cutting them with my circular saw. This reduces tear-out on the top veneer.

Here is the cut list:

Back (1/4" plywood): 43" x 22"

Desktop (3/4" plywood): 25" x 24"

3D Printer Platform (3/4" plywood): 21-3/8" x 19-1/2"

Top Shelf (1/2" plywood): 21-3/8" x 19-1/2"

Step 3: Drill Pocket Holes

The frame of the enclosure is assembled with pocket holes.


All of the 2x4 pieces, except the legs, require two pocket holes in each end. Make sure your pocket hole jig is set to the correct thickness for a 2x4! (1-1/2")

At this point, you could also drill pocket holes in the back stringer and two of the side stringers, perpendicular to the length of the 2x4, for attaching the desktop later on in the project.

However, I did this during the assembly step. Just make sure to set your pocket hole jig to the thickness of the desktop (3/4") rather than the thickness of a 2x4 (1-1/2").

Step 4: Dye Pieces With India Ink

India Ink is a fantastic, cheap way to dye wood black and add some style to the enclosure!

India Ink doesn't give off any noxious fumes, and it's easy to apply with rags and a brush.
I dyed the 2x4 pieces, 1x1s (or other small dimensional lumber, still uncut at this point) and one side of the 1/4" plywood.

I love the look of the dyed luan plywood!

I found that applying a couple coats, giving each one 30 seconds or so to soak in, worked well for achieving a uniform, jet-black finish.

Step 5: Sand Undyed Plywood Pieces and Apply Finish

While the India Ink is drying, we can sand the undyed pieces of plywood up to 220 grit.

I did this by hand, but you could use a random orbital sander to speed up the process!

I finished these pieces with 3 coats of Varathane Diamond Wood Finish in Crystal Clear Semigloss. I applied this with a foam brush, and sanded with 220 grit between coats.

This is my go-to finish for undyed plywood, as it doesn't cause any yellowing and leaves you with a beautiful, uniform, smooth finish!

Step 6: Apply Finish to Dyed Pieces

I gave the India Ink a full day to dry before applying finish, but I'm not sure if this is necessary. India Ink dries really fast, and on more recent projects, I've applied finish after a few hours.


I finished the dyed pieces with two coats of satin wipe-on poly, mostly because I already had a can and wanted to use it up. This did create a really nice satin finish! It almost makes the 2x4 pieces look like they're charred. On more recent projects, I've finished India-Ink-stained-wood with diamond wood finish, which also gives you a really beautiful result.

The India Ink may turn the the first coat of finish black, so be sure to pour some finish into a separate container to avoid contaminating your entire can.


Since I left these pieces rough, I didn't sand in between coats.

Step 7: Assemble the Frame

I started this process by assembling the two side frames, flat on the floor.


All of the frame pieces are held together with glue and 2-1/2" pan-head screws. Make sure you use clamps when driving pocket screws, so that the screws don't shift your pieces in unexpected ways!


Once I had the two side frames together, I tipped them upright and attached them together with the two feet.


Next, I attached the two dividers (the drawer slides for the top shelf will sit on these pieces).


For this design, the dividers should be attached with their top faces 31-1/2" above the ground.


Finally, I attached the back stringer. The frame was pretty stiff at this point, so I had to use a clamp flipped into expansion mode along with some persuasion from a mallet to get this piece into place!

Step 8: Attach the Desktop

If you haven't already, drill pocket holes up through the back stringer and two upper stringers.


Make sure your pocket hole jig is set to 3/4", the thickness of the desktop.

Place the desktop on top of the frame, and adjust its position to get a 1 inch overhang on all sides.
Clamp the desktop in place (I used rags as cushions to avoid marring the finished surface), and secure the top with 1-1/4" pocket screws.

To hide these new pocket holes, I just painted them with some India Ink, and they disappeared from view!

Step 9: Attach the Back

To make your life easier, I would recommend cutting a hole in a bottom corner of the back piece BEFORE attaching it to the frame! Please, learn from my mistake :)


The back is attached directly to the face of the frame.


This will stiffen up the enclosure significantly, and is an opportunity to pull the frame square.


In all honesty, this step should probably be done before attaching the top (and before the glue holding the frame together dries), to maximize the ability to correct for squareness.


I shifted frame until I was happy with the squareness, held the back in place with clamps, and then attached it to the frame with countersunk wood screws.

Step 10: Install the Drawer Slides (3D Printer Platform and Top Shelf)

As you can see, my cat, Penny was a big help in installing the drawer slides! ;)

I started by carefully drawing alignment lines perpendicular to the front face of the shelves with my framing square.


Then, I split each drawer slide and attached the solid half to the underside of the shelves. I made sure to position the slides so that when I put them back together, they wouldn't extend past the front of the shelves.


Then, I reassembled the drawer slides and applied a few pieces of double-sided tape to the telescoping halves.


I carefully aligned each shelf in the frame checking for a consistent gap all the way around. I also positioned them so that the front of the shelves are inset about 2mm from the front of the frame. This is so the 2mm acrylic doors can close against the front of the shelves, flush with the frame, .


Once I got each shelf aligned, I dropped it into place, removed the top slide + shelf assembly, screwed the bottom slides into place, and reassembled the slides.

Step 11: Cut Stops for the Sides and Attach to Frame

Before attaching the acrylic sides, I installed stops for the sides to screw into.


I made these from some scrap 1x1s and 1x2s which I trimmed into a square cross-section and dyed black with the India Ink. The total length of stops in this project requires the equivalent of three (3) 8-foot 1x1s.


Each side requires four pieces (eight total).


I didn't cut the stops earlier on in the project, because I wanted to take field measurements in case the actual dimensions of my enclosure differed from what I designed.


I would recommend doing the same, but for my enclosure, the side stops required:
Four (4) x 13"

Four (4) x 36"

I glued and screwed these into place, with their inside face flush with the 2x4 frame. I attached these with black drywall screws, so that the screwheads wouldn't stand out. However, drywall screws are a bit annoying to work with (they squeak and tend to snap), so I would recommend using wood screws and just coloring the heads black with a sharpie.

At this point, you can also cut two stops for the doors to close against. Again, I would recommend measuring your enclosure, but my stops ended up being 20" long.

Step 12: Install Acrylic Sides

I got my acrylic from a local plastics supplier, and they were kind enough to cut it to size for me.


As I said in the "supplies" section, I would recommend basing your acrylic order off of measurements of your own enclosure. Our dimensions may not be exactly the same, especially when you're building with construction lumber. This is important because the gaps for the doors have a pretty tight tolerance.


Make sure you account for a gap! I undersized the acrylic sides by about 1/16" on all size, and sized the doors to have a 1/16" gap (between the double doors as well as between each door and the frame).

My acrylic order was:

Two (2) x 12-1/4" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (upper doors)

Two (2) x 30-1/2" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (lower doors)

Two (2) x 40-3/8" x 16-5/8" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (sides)

I drilled holes around the perimeter of the acrylic sides, and then screwed them to the stops with 7/16" black framing screws. Make sure you drill straight and steady through the acrylic against a solid backstop, or else it can crack!

Step 13: Cut and Attach Stops for Acrylic Doors

The doors close against the shelves, but this only provides a stop at the bottom of each door.


So, I added a 1x1 stop for the top of each pair of doors.

For my enclosure, each of these stops needed to be 20" long.

Like the shelves, I attached the stops so that their outer face is inset 2mm from the outer face of the frame. This way, the acrylic doors will sit flat against the stops and flush to the frame.


I attached the stops to the frame with glue and countersunk screws. Clamps were handy to hold the stops in the correct position while I drove the screws. Again, make sure to cushion the clamps to avoid marring the finished plywood!

Step 14: Install Acrylic Doors

Next, we're ready to install two pairs of double doors for the top storage area and 3D printer area!

As mentioned earlier, I would recommend basing your acrylic order off of field measurements from your own enclosure, to take the variability of materials and construction into account. Make sure to account for a 1/16" gap between the doors, as well as as a 1/16" gap between the doors and the frame!


These were the dimensions I used:

Two (2) x 12-1/4" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (upper doors)
Two (2) x 30-1/2" x 10" pieces of 2mm clear acrylic (lower doors)

The black hinges at my local Home Depot were all too big for this project, so I ended up getting a 6' piece of black continuous hinge (AKA piano hinge).


This is easy to trim into sections with a pair of tin snips! You just need to make a cut on each side, and then it's just a matter of bending the hinge back and forth a few times to break the wire hinge pin.


I attached the hinges to the enclosure with the 7/16" black framing screws. It's worth it to spend some time here to make sure the hingepins are vertical and consistently placed!


Then, I carefully positioned the acrylic doors, making sure they had an even gap on all sides. Once I was happy with their placement, I marked the hole locations with a sharpie and drilled holes to attach the doors to the hinges with nuts and bolts.


I used 2 hinges for each door. This worked great for the short upper doors, but since the lower doors are relatively long, I would recommend using 3 hinges for these doors, or positioning them closer together than I did.

Step 15: Add Magnetic Closures

I added a magnetic closure by embedding 8x3mm magnets into the acrylic doors!

I use 2 magnets for each door - one to hold it against the stop at the top of the door, and one to hold it against the shelf at the bottom of the door (8 magnets total).

I started by marking hole locations in the acrylic with my awl, making sure to choose consistent locations on top of the shelves and stops. Make sure you choose a location in the center thickness of the plywood, so that you can drive in wood screws later on!


I then drilled holes in the acrylic slightly larger than the magnets. By drilling against the shelves/stops, I had a solid backstop to drill against. Additionally, by continuing to drill after I punched through the acrylic, this gave me an easy way to mark the spot to later drive in wood screws to form the other half of the closure.

I used 5 minute epoxy to embed the magnets in the doors.


Then, I drilled countersunk holes in the previously marked spots in the shelves and stops, and drove in 3/4" wood screws to hold the magnetic doors closed.


I did have a bit of chip-out on the black stops, but this was easy to fix with some India Ink and a paintbrush!


At this point, Penny was quick to claim the enclosure as her temporary home (at least until I moved the 3D printer inside!) ;)

Step 16: Install Power Strip, LEDs and 3D Printer!

As mentioned in Step 9, it would be much easier to cut a hole in the back of the enclosure before attaching it to the frame. But for some reason, I didn't think about that until I was already at this point :)


So, I had some "fun" crouched inside the enclosure with a drill and keyhole saw!

This hole will be virtually invisible behind the printer, so I wasn't worried about making it pretty.

Again, painting the exposed wood edges with India Ink makes them disappear!

I used double sided tape to attach the power strip right above the hole.

Then, I could install the remote-controlled LED strip lights!

These are easy and fun to install.


I cleaned the mounting surface with alcohol, and then used the adhesive back to run the strip along the upper edge of the 3D printer area. This kit comes with really handy clips that you can use to reinforce the strip around corners.

I had some extra length, so I also ran the strip around the back and "ceiling" of the 3D printer area. It's worth planning your route before installing LED strips!

Zip ties came in handy to manage the extra power cord for the LEDs.


Finally, I could move the 3D printer into its new home.

Step 17: Add Finishing Touches! (3D Printed Banana Knobs and Remote Holder)

With my 3D printer moved into its new home, I was chomping at the bit to design and print some original accessories for the enclosure!


First, I made a holder for the LED remote that screws onto the side of the enclosure.

I know, I know, I probably could've printed this in one piece, but this was my first original 3D printed design! I was a little overly-concerned with print orientation, and underestimated the capabilities of my Prusa.


Next, I wanted to make some knobs that would give me experience with freeform sculpting in Fusion 360! Bananas seemed like the perfect challenge, since two of them side-by-side form perfect double-door handles!


Engineering these was a bit of a challenge, and I printed each knob in 4 parts so I could embed a nut.


After assembling the knobs with super glue, drilling holes in the doors and installing them, the 3D printer enclosure and standing desk was done!

Step 18: All Done!

That's it!

This 3D printer enclosure and standing desk has been a gamechanger for my tiny apartment workshop.

Since I'm working entirely from home these days, it's so nice to have another place to work on my laptop, and break up long stretches of sitting.

I've really enjoyed getting into 3D printing over the last year, and having a dedicated enclosure makes printing a seamless experience! The pull-out drawers are really convenient for getting at items in the back of the storage area of doing maintenance on the printer.

I also love how the enclosure looks lit-up at night.

If you make this project yourself, I would love to see your results! You can tag me on Instagram @morleykert. And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for all sorts of other projects!

Thanks for following along, and have a great day!

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    9 Comments

    0
    Bandlith
    Bandlith

    6 weeks ago

    No vent fan or filter?

    0
    morleykert
    morleykert

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    No, but this design has plenty of room to add one after building! I stick to pretty benign filaments (PLA, PETG), and if I'm doing a really long print, I'll just crack the top doors to stimulate some airflow. It's not totally air-tight, so the enclosure does allow for some airflow.

    0
    wandaw
    wandaw

    6 weeks ago

    01/21/2021: This is one of the best instructional videos I've ever seen (out of many), and it's not even your "full build" version. You did a nice job of explaining every step and showing enough detail at the same time, so I could easily follow how you built this nice looking cabinet/enclosure/standing desk. Thank you. I look forward to seeing more of your projects.

    0
    morleykert
    morleykert

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Thank you so much, that's great to hear! I'm looking forward to writing more Instructables :)

    0
    mariosk8s
    mariosk8s

    6 weeks ago

    I love the drawer idea for accessibility.

    0
    justmightdiy
    justmightdiy

    6 weeks ago

    That looks awesome! Love how it’s multifunctional.

    0
    morleykert
    morleykert

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Thanks! Multifunctional is key in a tiny apartment :)

    1
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    6 weeks ago

    Dang that looks nice! If I ever end up with a 3D printer I'll probably need an enclosure like this - favoriting just in case :D

    0
    morleykert
    morleykert

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Thanks so much, Jessy! I love the look of the black, rough lumber and the clean, unstained plywood! Definitely an aesthetic I like to have around my apartment.