Introduction: Flat Pack 3D Printer Enclosure
Much has been written on the virtues of keeping parts warm while printing - and there are many solid 3D printer enclosures. However, I found that with a small workshop space, (and also running workshops), portability was often overlooked...
This enclosure uses piano hinges (which are surprisingly cheap) and 4mm Greenhouse PC Sheeting (also very cheap), to create an enclosure - and it cal all be done in less than 1 hour!
It can of course be made solid, but omitting the hinges and simply creating a box - and this will still likely be one of the cheapest enclosures you can make, with the PC Sheeting being typically ~$10/sheet (1220x720mm).
If you are keen to see more projects using corrugated plastics, check out my other projects like a Spacepod, and other modelling tips at Hey Jude on Instructables.
Piano Hinges can be found for around than $1/ft, on Amazon (LINK) and cheaper at local builders merchants.
Polycarbonate Sheet (for Greenhouses) can be found at ~$10-$15/sheet (large enough for a project like this if economical with usage, but perhaps get 2x in case!), on Amazon (LINK), but this is cheaper at a DIY centre.
The clear PC sheet is easier to come by, and may well be cheaper on Amazon or from a craft shop. (LINK) 2-Part
Epoxy Glue - I uses 90 Second Cure (very fast!). I used Araldite, but any others will do. I also used MDF for the base, but frankly - and solid bit of wood will do. 3D Printers vibrate a little, so hefty is good.
All other materials such as sticky-tape, craft knife, etc. I'm sure you have =) Not shown: Glue-gun, goggles, mask, etc. - be safe.
Optional Extra: Magnetic Door, using 4(dia)x3mm Magnets (LINK).
Step 1: Quick Mark-up
It's pretty obvious that you'll need to measure around your 3D printer to work out how big you want the enclosure to be. Take into account the 'max'/'min' positions of things like the printer bed, and also the ergonomics of where you need to put your fingers to get to stuff.
TIP - I used felt marker to ink-up the 'feet' of the printer, and placed on the MDF where I needed it.
TIP - I quickly 3D printed some rings to act as locating 'sockets' for the printer feet, and stuck them down with Glue-gun.
Final picture shows the fit of the spool, etc. So be aware of all of these parts and that they move freely.
I needed about 350(w) x 350(d) x 400(h).
Step 2: Cheap & Easy to Cut Material
Note - I've put the direction of the 'fluting' (corrugation) or the PC sheet in such a way for this to be what I think is the most structurally sound direction (as it mounts to a solid hinge, perpendicular to it).
For a 4mm sheet, this stuff is very easy to cut - but do take care and I'd suggest cutting in 3-5 strokes, rather than 1 forceful cut!
Once you have 2 pieces. - peel back the protective cover, and lay ready for gluing.
(If you like - roughen with some sand-paper to help the epoxy key)
TIP - clean any oils of the piano hinge with rubbing alcohol or acetone (don't use strong solvents on the PC Sheet - it may craze).
Check alignment and fit of hinges to the sheets...
Step 3: Tape Hinges/PC Sheets in Place
I think this is a great tip, and not only does the Sellotape take the guesswork out of this project, but it also allows the glue to set like 'rivets' through the drill-holes.
Last image shows the position of hinge - note fold-angle, relative to attachment of PC Sheets!
Step 4: Applying Epoxy (Quickly!)
Warning - Epoxy is nasty stuff, so read all safety warnings, and use in a well ventilated area with appropriate protection.
Mix about a quarter/10p sized quantity, and mix quickly for 10 seconds.
Apply to the inner faces of the hinge and PC sheet. Close afterwards.
You have less than 60 Seconds to apply, so I suggest doing one set of hinges at a time!
Step 5: Ensure Good Adhesion
Flip the PC sheets over onto a flat surface, and using a tissue - 'rub' the hinge-plastic together.
This is also a good reason we used Sellotape, as it allows us to do this without making a mess!
Check alignment and any air-bubbles, and leave for a couple mins to set.
Step 6: Fixing Mistakes
Because you are applying the glue liberally to the two materials - it's likely some will be squeezed out. Should it get onto the centre of the hinge, this would be bad if we let it set hard, so it's better to clean in off.
TIP - there is an optimum time to 'pick off' epoxy, and it's just when it starts to 'go-off' or start to set. As the chemicals are 'related' you can observe the 'set' of the glue left on the mixing paper...when this is getting to be so tacky it pulls off in a chunk, this is when you can pick off the glue on the hinge - with a wooden spatula/lollipop stick.
This is a great tip to know in general, and once you have the hang of it, it can take a messy job to a clean one in seconds.
Step 7: Peel Off Tape
Remove tape, not too long after the epoxy has started to really set. (say 5-10mins from application).
Leave for 5mins, while you prepare the next piece of PC sheet to attach...
Step 8: Rinse, Repeat...
In case you'd not guesses, I've repeated this step - to take photos, as the 90second mix-cure-apply-cleanup speed was not easy to take a picture as well! So this explains why this is done with off-cuts...but the same process applies.
Step 9: 4 Sides Done
Once you have 4 sizes joined, leave to set for a while, just so everything takes a hold.
Start-to finish this takes about 30mins, if you cut, clean, prep the next section as you're waiting for the last join to set.
This is also the last time to check if the hinges are all aligned nicely, etc.
Step 10: Sides to Base
I uses some 2mm ABS to finish the edges of the MDF, and to allow it to easily 'dock' and align.
Any material can be used, but this is easy to work with and cheap.
Step 11: Cables
I cut in two small slots for cables into the sides, for Power and USB. Simple!
Step 12: Optional - Door
The PC Sheet is pretty easy to see through, but obviously not perfect - so it's preferable to have a viewing side, and also a door (if you're going through the trouble anyway to cut another material).
I simply attached this 2mm PC (clear) sheet in the same way as the rest of this process, and it works nicely.
Step 13: Making the Lid
The Lid was made by cutting a PC sheet the same as the top of the box, and then adding some small strips on the inner side, that would keep it located squarely.
Optional again - I added a clear panel in the same way as the door, and fixed it in place with Epoxy.
Step 14: Optional Extras - Magnetic Door, Temp/RH% Monitor.
You can make any fastening mechanism you like - even a paper-clip would work.
However, in keeping with the minimal / flatness of this design, I inserted Magnets into the fluting of the corrugated PC sheet, and stuck the corresponding magnets onto the clear door.
I also had space to drop in a Temp & RH% Monitor.
Step 15: Collapse // Cover
Although more complex enclosures do exist, this for me is cheap, portable and keeps space to a minimum when not printing.
Do please vote if you liked it, or if you made a variation of it!
Have fun and happy printing =)
Step 16: Sketches of Assembly
Hope these help also =)
Step 17: Not Too Hot or Too Cold - But Just Right
Following a question, I thought I'd show the temp rise for a print that was ~30mins, and it rose ~5C.
This is still within the operating temp for the 3D Printer, though of course one can consider partial venting if needed to keep cooler. Most 3D Printers work well at moderately warm conditions.
Second Prize in the
1 Hour Challenge