Introduction: 3D Printed Case, Inline LED Display Console + Reflection on 3D Printing
Here is a link to my 3D model creation, which I use as the case for my inline LED game console.
This model could be printed to use as a case for your own inline LED console, a similar device, or as a starting point for some other project. At least the top lid (for LEDs) and the area housing the buttons can be of use to most anyone who is implementing a one line LED game console, given they have access to a 3D printer.
Below I give some highlights of the model and go on to give some guidance and reflection on the process of creating a 3D object, slicing and printing it.
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Step 1: Regarding This 3D Model
Note that the larger lid, meant for the bottom, is printed upside down, this is so the edge does not effectively form an overhang. I should have marked it somehow so you could tell which way to install it. This bottom lid is designed for easy removal and remounting. Whereas the top lid is designed so it can be installed in any orientation. You might notice that the lids are 1mm shorter than the opening they go in, that is due to differences in internal and external dimensions reproduction in the final 3D printer objects. I don't know if this is typical or not on other printers or with other filament.
In one of the images you will see a small structure which accommodates an Arduino Nano and holds it stead so that a USB connector can be attached and remove reliably from the outside.
There are cutouts for LEDs, buttons, the USB connector of the MCU, a switch, a hole for audio to escape, and a few cutouts for plug in pin-connections on the sides. With the small hole for audio placed in the side you can easily mute the game sounds by putting a piece of tape over it, so as not to disturb others. The top is framed to accommodate templates; for instance for my Le Mans racing game (see last photo, click on "Show All Items" above)
I have included pictures of my project's electronics going into the printed case, although the electronics is not the focus of this instructable. Other than the MCU all the components sub-systems are intended to be attached using quality high strength hot glue.
I recommend printing the main body by itself and then the two lids. This will increase the chance of successful prints.
For the remainder of this instructable I offer a little guidance and reflection on the 3D object creation process.
Step 2: 3D Object Modeling
First note that there are a lot of tools for creating and processing 3D models for printing. What follows is but one set of examples for the process flow.
Find something interesting but simple and download it (.stl file(s))
Later, to create your own object/model files go to TinkerCAD , create a free account & do the getting started exercises. Then create your own 3D model. This is a cloud application, all the hard work is done by a CPU farm, not your browser. You can find free offline 3D CAD programs. But I would start with this, simple to use one.
Then download one of your resulting 3D model (e.g. a .stl or .obj file).
Step 3: Slicing and Printing
You have to have your model translated (sliced) into a printable format, generally a .gcode file.
For a feature full 3D model Slicer download the CraftWare slicer.
With CraftWare, in a new project, ADD in your downloaded 3D object (.stl file) You can then examine and do some actions like resize.
The next pane/screen is for adding supports which is not generally needed, so you can skip over that, by clicking on “Slice →”. Then there is slicing, in preparation of printing. This comes with lots of parameter settings. These are mostly what puts in or takes out the printablity for your model-printer-filament combination. The settings are of interest in conjunction with what type of filament used, the given 3D object, and the 3D printer to be used. This area, in my estimation, is an interplay of science, art and technology where trial and error may reign.
My case has slanted surfaces of as little as 27 degrees (50% grade); like the area where the buttons are. To ensure the integrity of such, I found that I needed to set my size of perimeter walls to 6. The bottom of this surface still tends to be roughly formed, yet acceptable. The sides of the case are 1.5mm. I used a .4mm nozzle and .2mm layer height with quality PLA.
I have no more guidance to give in this area of slicing and printer settings. The manufacturers and user group are your best source for the best setting to use in order to have successful prints.
The results of the “Slice” operation (or a 'gcode' file) is quite interesting; and on the next pane/screen you can visually, in a virtually manner, go through the layers and even individual print steps with this CraftWare software. Which is very cool.
I use another slicer which was recommended by my printer manufacturer and for which they supplied various print configuration files. But I had to debug a few issues in its output (.gcode files) using 'CraftWare'. BTW so far I average ~50% success with my 3D object print outs. I also document all observed errors along with any changes made to rectify them.
Good luck to you with your endeavors.