Mikros: Tiny 3D Printed Computer Case

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Computers cases are often made with a 'function-over-form' mindset. Results tend to be not so pretty at best, so I tend to tuck them away in places that are not too visible, like under my desk.

But what if I could create a computer case that I would actually want to showcase on my desk or in my living room? Meet Mikros: a tiny computer case designed to stand out and be living room-proof. It can house a full-fledged computer with graphics card.

Hardware support and specifications

  • Dimensions: 92mm x 200mm x 245mm
  • Motherboard: ITX motherboard
  • PCI card: Low profile, dual slot up to 190mm long (eg. GPU)
  • CPU cooler: up to 70mm high (Noctua NH-L12S recommended)
  • Power supply: 'pico' style power supply with external AC-DC adapter (PicoPSU 160-xt or HDPlex 200w DC-ATX recommended)
  • HDD: one 2.5" HDD

Supplies:

  • 3D printer
    At least 210mm x 250mm x 100mm printing volume (originally designed for the Prusa i3)
  • Laser cutter
    Should be able to cut 190mm x 235mm panels
  • Soldering iron
  • Printing filament
    About 400g in filament type of choice. PLA should be fine as the temperature of the case itself shouldn't go over 50-60C°
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Glue
    When printing in PETG or PLA, we'll be using cyanoacrylate glue (aka 'super glue'). For ABS, you can use acetone.
  • Side panels
    3mm thick laser cuttable panels in material of choice (acrylic, plywood, mdf)
  • Threaded inserts
    26 M3 brass threaded inserts, 5mm long (preferably with a closed end). Can be found cheap on Aliexpress.
  • Screws
    - 20 M3 x 5mm screws for hardware mounting
    - 8 countersunk M3 x 5mm screws for side panels
    - 4 countersunk M3 x 12mm screws for HDD mounting (can be skipped if you're not gonna use a HDD)
  • Power button
    Any 16mm momentary vandal switch
  • Front panel
    USB3 and HD Audio front panel (can be found on Aliexpress)

Step 1: 3D Printing the Bezel

The main idea is to have a bezel printed in 1 piece so you don't see any folds or seams. This requires a pretty large printing bed though, at least 210mm x 250mm x 100mm. Attached you'll find the STL file for the bezel.

I prefer to print it without support, as this keeps the print cleaner. I have created some custom supports where needed and the vent pattern is optimised for printing without overhang. Layer height should be 0.2mm.

There are four brims inside the bezel. I use them along with magnets to prevent warping. This isn't required, but a little bit of warping might occur along in the corners if you don't.

Depending on your print settings, this can take up to 24 hours to print though. I advice you to print this while at home for the complete duration of the print, leaving a printer on when there is no one at home might pose a fire safety hazard.

When printed, remove the supports and brims.

Materials required in this step

  • 3D printer
  • Fillament

Step 2: 3D Printing the Brackets

The printed bezel has some cutouts to attach brackets, which will hold the computers hardware. They are printed separately because printed the whole thing as a single piece proved too difficult.

Attached is the STL file for the brackets. Printing everything will take about 2-3 hours. Make sure not to use supports again.

Note: when your printed brackets have too much of an 'elephant foot', you might need to clean them up for them to fit in the bezel.

Materials required in this step

  • 3D printer
  • Fillament

Step 3: Prepare the Brackets

To prepare the brackets, we will be inserting the first threaded inserts. For that, we'll use a soldering iron. We cannot insert them all yet, because some brackets need to be joined with the bezel before we can do it.

We'll be preparing the corner brackets and the motherboard supports in this step.

For the corner brackets, make sure you're inserting them in the right direction as the provided holes go all the way through the bracket. Watch the attached picture closely before starting.

TIP: make sure the soldering iron is not too hot. The printed parts might deform when they get too hot.

Materials required in this step

  • Soldering iron
  • 12 threaded inserts

Step 4: Attach the Fan Brackets

The material used to join brackets and bezel depend on the filament used. If you used PLA, we will be glueing the brackets to the bezel using cyanoacrylate glue (aka 'super glue'). If you used ABS, you can join the parts together using acetone. Be sure to use these products in a well ventilated area.

The first brackets we'll attach are the fan brackets. Before applying glue or acetone, test fit the brackets into the bezel. As mentioned before, elephant feet may need to be removed. This applies to all brackets, not only the fan brackets.

Materials required in this step

  • Glue or acetone

Step 5: Insert the Threaded Inserts in Fan Bracket

Once the fan brackets are securely attached, use your soldering iron the insert the threaded inserts in the provided holes. Be careful because you will need to hold your iron inside your case. Try not to lets the hot parts touch the printed plastic.

Materials required in this step

  • Soldering iron
  • 8 threaded inserts

Step 6: Attach the Corner Brackets

We have already inserted the threaded inserts in the corner brackets in a previous step. If you somehow missed that, make sure to do it before you attach them to the bezel.

When attaching these brackets to the case, make sure you're not doing it in the opposite direction. Take a close look at the images before applying glue or acetone.

Materials required in this step

  • Glue or acetone

Step 7: Attach the HDD Brackets

The HDD brackets are the ones in the bottom that also hold the front panel. Make sure the the motherboard support, the long arm that extends from the bracket, already has a threaded insert before attaching it to the bezel.

Materials required in this step

  • Glue or acetone

Step 8: Insert Threaded Inserts for the Front Panel

The reason we're doing this before we attach the other brackets is that the remaining motherboard supports would otherwise obstruct with the soldering iron. Be very careful not to touch the bezel with your hot soldering iron.

Materials required in this step

  • Soldering iron
  • 2 threaded inserts

Step 9: Attach the Final Brackets

We need to attach four more brackets for the brackets to be fully attached. These include the final motherboard supports. Make sure that the motherboard supports already have a threaded insert before attaching them to the bezel.

Materials required in this step

  • Glue or acetone

Step 10: Insert Threaded Inserts in Bezel

There should be only four threaded inserts left to insert now: the ones that hold the power supply adapter and the ones that hold the pci card in place.

These power supply ones should be inserted from the outside, going in. The adapter is to be attached to the case on the outside to leave clearance for the CPU cooler.

Materials required in this step

  • Soldering iron
  • 4 threaded inserts

Step 11: Print and Attach Power Supply Bracket

The power supply bracket depends on your choice of power supply. I've attached some brackets for different inlets so you have a large freedom of choice of your power supply. Print the required bracket and attach it to your case.

For those wondering, HDPlex uses 7.4mm barrel connectors, Mini-box uses 5mm barrel connectors for their low wattage units and mini DIN on their 150w+ bricks.

Materials required in this step

  • 3D printer
  • Fillament
  • 2 M3 x 5mm screws

Step 12: Front Panel and Power Button

Attach the front panel to the bezel with M3 x 5mm screws. Don't tighten the screws too hard, we're dealing with plastic here. This counts for all screws being used in this case.

The power button has a nut that must be taken off first. Stick the button through the bezel and attach the nut again from the inside.

Materials required in this step

  • Front panel
  • Power button
  • 2 M3 x 5mm screws

Step 13: Lasercutting (or Printing) the Side Panels

The most difficult job is finished! The printed part was by far the most work we've had to do to build this case. We're left with the side panels now, which we will be laser cutting. Laser cutting allows for a smoother finish than 3D printing, as top and bottom layer finish on 3D prints tend to be a bit messy. Remember, we're building a goodlooking case here.

Attached is a PDF for a side panel. The two panels are identical so this file can be used for both.

Note: if you do not have access to a laser cutter, I've also attached the 3D design of the panel as STL so you can also print it.

Materials required in this step

  • Laser cutter
  • Side panel material

Step 14: Countersinking the Side Panel Mounting Holes

Use a countersinking bit on your drill to create countersunk holes on your side panels. Test the holes often with your screws while drilling so you don't drill them too deep.

You can skip this step if you don't mind the look of the screws sticking out, but I prefer them to be recessed into the pannel.

Materials required in this step

  • Drill
  • Countersinking bit

Step 15: Attach Side Panels to Bezel

The side panels are attached to the bezel in the four corners using countersunk M3 x 5mm screws.

Materials required in this step

  • Screwdriver
  • 8 M3 x 5mm screws

Step 16: Installing the Hardware

This step is hard to fully describe as it depends on your choice of hardware. I will give some general tips to make installing the hardware easier:

  • If you're going to use casefans, install these first.
  • Most casefans can be installed with 5mm length M3 screws. Some may actually need screws with a length of the thickness of the fan + 2-3mm. This is the case when the screw holes on the both sides of the fan are 'connected'.
  • Add the cpu cooler, M.2 SSD and power supply to your motherboard before putting it into the case.
  • You might want to temporarily get the power button out again to install the motherboard.
  • Casefan support along with a GPU is only tested with cards from MSI. Other brands may also work but that isn't guaranteed.

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    3 Discussions

    0
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    jmargot

    14 days ago

    very nice

    1
    None
    seamster

    15 days ago

    Nice, I like it!!