The following is a guide to build your own Filing Cabinet 3d Printer Enclosure.
Remember, you'll be working with metal and you'll be installing electronics into a metal enclosure. While a metal enclosure has some obvious safety advantages (lower flammability), it also comes with some drawbacks (possibility of electrical shock and personal injury due to sharp edges).
Be sure to wear safety gear when working with grinders and other metal oriented tools. Grinders are one of the most dangerous common tools out there. Please wear eye protection and other appropriate safety equipment.
I did not go into fine detail with the walkthough because I believe it would be pointless and possibly counterproductive. Filing cabinets differ greatly from model to model, and that goes more so for 3d printers. This guide is to give you advantages that I did not have, but you should know that you will have to figure a lot out on your own.
- Filing cabinet
- Large format. The one pictured was 18.25 inches wide, 27.5 inches deep, and about 52 inches high. Cabinets vary in size. The top two or three drawers (depending on your printer size, but removing two creates a high space) will be removed to accommodate the printer so you may be able to get a cabinet on the cheap if one of these are broken, maybe even free like mine was.
- Piece of plywood (or similar material)
- Minimum size is the width and depth of the cabinet.
- Front - Depending on how many drawers you remove to accommodate the printer, you will need a piece of Plexiglas the size of the opening.
- Sides - My side windows were sized based on some Plexiglas I was given for free. They can be any size, but make sure you have an opening that will give you proper access, and try to maintain the structural integrity of the cabinet.
- Wood Trim
- This can vary depending on the style you want and the supplies you have. My front door was Plexiglas trimmed in pine.
- I won't assume you'll go with the same paint scheme, but I used a can of Rust-Oleum metal paint and it was excellent. The black stripes are black Gorilla Duct tape (this tape bonds well and has a flatter surface than other brands. Looks like decal tape).
- First, be sure you don't do anything you're not qualified to do. I can tell you what is installed on my enclosure, but I will leave it to you to determine what you can install safely and properly. Also be aware of electrical codes and requirements in your area.
- I grounded my enclosure, and there's also a GFCI device attached to the end of the power bar that powers everything. It's a metal enclosure and I wanted to be safe.
- Various Supplies
- Much of what will be used you'll have to plan out yourself. Each build varies depending on printer, cabinet model, available materials, budget, and what you want from the cabinet. You can also print many of the the supplies you need.
Step 1: Removing the Drawers and Removing Hardware
I'm going to move forward assuming two drawers are being removed, but 3 can be removed to accommodate a larger printer, or if you want to put your spools inside or something.
- The first thing I would do is remove all drawers.
- You'll need two drawers for storage so set the best two aside
- Identify the hardware inside the cabinet that you want to keep and cut out the rest.
- You will need to keep hardware essential to the operation of the two bottom drawers.
- There may be some hardware that can support the platform you will install to place your printer on. If there is none that's fine, but on my model there were some drawer supports that came in handy.
- Cut out the unwanted hardware.
- The goal here is to have a clean space for your printer. Try to keep things that add structural stability to the cabinet, but make the space as clean as possible.
- Remember to clean up any sharp metal.
Step 2: Installing a Printer Platform (floor)
This part will depend on your supplies, your printer, and the cabinet model. If you look at mine I used extra pieces of pine because my plywood was thin (I was too cheap to buy thicker stuff).
- Basically you want:
- As much room as possible
- To fill any openings around the perimeter if possible (you can seal it later if not)
- to support your printer.
- Using the additional pine like I did will allow you to run wires under the printer easier if you need to.
Step 3: Measuring and Creating the Door and Windows
- Next I would suggest placing the printer in the enclosure on the platform.
- Decide where you want your printer to be and place it there. This will allow you to check the clearances and you can also decide where you want your side windows to allow for good access.
- You can see that I initially had two windows per side but decided to make them into one large window per side. Access is very important.
- Take your printer out of the enclosure before you continue working on the enclosure.
- Once your windows are marked out you can cut the holes.
- Cut out the holes and be sure not to leave any sharp metal behind.
- Trim the openings
- I trimmed my openings with wood. It eliminated the thin edges that the cut metal created, and was easy to install hardware on.
- Install the windows and doors
- For the side windows I printed rails so I could slide glass over the windows.
- For the front I trimmed a piece of Plexiglas with wood and made it the same size as the door trim that was already installed. Hinges and latches and I was good to go. A gasket around this opening is not a bad idea.
- You can install the doors at a later stage. I mention them here but you can work on this later.
Step 4: Installing the Printer
I still had to remove the printer once or twice after I installed it because I didn't want to damage it while I worked on certain parts, but this is around the stage where I installed it. The better you plan your work the less likely you are to have to remove it again.
- If you plan on painting the platform or the inside of the enclosure I would do so now before you install the printer.
- Place your printer accordingly and secure it.
- I printed brackets and used them to fasten my printer to the platform. There's several ways to secure your printer, it will depend on what you prefer and of course your printer model.
- Place your power supply
- I installed my power supply outside my enclosure so it would not overheat. This involved replacing the wire from the PS to the printer with a longer one. Be careful doing this, and don't do any modifications that you cannot complete safely and properly.
- I would suggest that protection be installed anywhere wires pass through metal. I printed a "cable pass-through" for the spot where all my wiring leads to the exterior. It secures the wires and prevents the metal from damaging the wires.
- Place your filament spool
- I chose a location on the top of my enclosure and installed the stock filament spool holder. I then took one of my spare bowden tube fittings and installed it so the filament went down through the top of the cabinet, then through a couple inches of tube, and then ran to the printer. The picture capture this better than I can explain it.
- Other accessories
- You may have other printer parts and accessories to place. You can see that I removed my printer lcd and installed it toward the front of the enclosure. There's also a camera, a light, and a raspberry pi installed. The raspberry pi I also installed outside of the enclosure.
Step 5: Safety
I'm not going to tell you what safety devices to install, I'm simply going to tell you what I did. Electrical requirements change by country, region, etc.
Be sure you have the safety devices you need, plus any extra you feel make your build safer.
- I installed a GFCI similar to the white one pictured. It protects everything connected to the power bar that powers my enclosure. These typically only work if they are connected to a properly wired power receptacle.
- I also grounded the enclosure. The tape on the wire you see in the picture only marks the wire as a ground, underneath the tape the wire is properly secured. There are several ways to ground something, and again this will vary by your location and a bunch of other factors.
Step 6: Enjoy!
I had very little reference material when I made my enclosure, I hope this instructible will allow you to create one even better than mine. It's a lot of work, but I love it. It's worth it.
Have fun building and BE SAFE!