Ultimate Intelligent 3D Printer Enclosure

Introduction: Ultimate Intelligent 3D Printer Enclosure

Would not be nice to 3d print a piece without being worried about bending, or by getting out of filament, or without being annoyed with the noise, or if you just want to monitor your 3d prints, this project is perfect for you, here I’ll show you how I’ve solved those problems.

The project is based on an enclosure, which has some sensors and controls added, such as a raspberry pi loaded with octopi, and an Arduino mega with a handmade shield able to create a hot atmosphere or to notify when you run out of filament.

I’ve divided this instructable in two principal steps, the woodworking, which is basically the box itself, and the electronics one, which consist on the main psu, the auxiliary psu (powers the hot bed and whatever else you want to power in 24 or 12v), the printed circuit board and the microcontrollers.

I also want to amphatitzase that I’ve done this project as well as I could do it, provably you can improve the design or to get better the code, I’m not an engineer but you don’t need to copy exactly this project, you can use other materials, cause It’s your project, not mine.

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For this project, I have used a whole bunch of parts, they will be better explained on each part, but more or less those are the materials needed:

I would recommend you to purchase all the chines components as soon as
you can, otherwise, you’ll be waiting to get your components until the last minute, as I did



  • 3mm mdf wood
    • 2X 50x12cm
    • 2X 54,4x12cm
    • 1X 49,4x48cm
    • 1X 50x45cm
    • 1X 50x20cm
    • 2X 54,7x48cm
  • 10mm mdf wood
    • 2X 50x55cm boards (don't throw away the excess)
  • Some wooden strips (I've used around 8X 13x13x1000mm strips)
  • Aluminium sheet
  • Plexiglas sheet
  • Some stuff that I had laying around


Small electronic components:

  • 2X 1uf electrolytic cap.
  • 1X 100nf ceramic cap.
  • 5X 10K resistor
  • 10X 1K resistor
  • 5X 100K resistor
  • 3X 1K7 resistor
  • 2X 2n3904
  • 1X bc547
  • 1X irlz 44n
  • 2X tip120s
  • 1X 1n4007
  • 2X irfd 220

Bigger components:

    • Raspberry pi (b+ works really well) with an usb cable, a micro SD card...
    • A 4X20 lcd display + driver
    • A couple micro switches
    • Ds18b20 temperature sensor
    • A rotary encoder
    • A 3 positions rotary selector
    • A relay module
    • A couple load sensor
    • An Arduino mega
    • A good web cam (the cheaply ones doesn’t work)
    • a magnetic switch


    • a virgin pcb, with all the etching materials needed
    • a led strip
    • a few pc fans
    • a powerfull atx psu and a second one, can be another atx or a noramal one

    --- TOOLS NEEDED:---

    Common tools, such as a soldering iron, a utility knife and so for the electronic part.

    And a drill with drill bits, a dremell, wood glue, a hot glue gun hold the wood while drying and a lot of screws.

    And the most important parts: a 3d printer and an angry mother/wife/husband/girlfriend/brother...

    Step 2: ---WOODWORKING---

    This design uses two boxes, to take advantage of the heat produced by the electronic parts on the lowest box and bring it to the top.

    --- Building the box(es) ---

    The building process of the boxes is pretty simple, and you can build the boxes in other ways, with other materials or other measurements.

    I took 3mm mdf for the walls and wooden strips on the outlines, you just want to make sure to follow the plane, and to change a little bit the measurements if using thicker material.

    1) I started with the smallest box (I’ll call it box 1), the bottom one, there is where should be all the switches and the display with a cool aluminium trim. So the front and the back walls are going to be screwed in place with a couple of wooden screws, but the sideline ones can be glued with the wooden strips using white glue. In summary, you want to make a wood strip structure, wich will be attached to the lowest 10mm board and screwed to the upper board, and attached using screws and glue the lateral 3mm boards.

    2) Once the box one was done, I sanded all up a little bit the ages to make them fit well once with the others. And using the jig saw cut a circular shape in order to fit the 12mm pc fan, because of my awful cutting skills, the cut needed to be sanded using a file till the hole look more or less like it should do and make a good fit.

    3) Then we can start with the second box, called... box 2, obviously. As before, you want to create like a wooden jail to fit the boards, this is a bit complicated, so after a while I realize that it would be easier to attach the strips to the boards and glue them using white glue and hot glue while drying, you may want to sand it all up as well.

    4) Once the two boxes were builded, attached to the 10mm bases using screws and sanded till they look and fit like a glove, I took the aluminum profiles and cut them, grind them and adjust them in order to be putted in the front door perimeter, take your time in this process, is very easy to spoil them out, but don’t glue them yet, before gluing, take a magnetic switch and isolate them with heat shrink tubes, now you can go ahead and gluing it using hot glue, I know its quite messy, but you can also use silicon or whatever you prefer. And don't forget to remove the sticky part of the aluminium profiles with a little bit of acetone.

    5) The box(es) are almost done, there's only the electrical aditives, such as the led strip, the wiring of the magnetic switch and the load sensor of the spools, but because of they consist in electrical devices connected to the shield, they will be explained on the electronic section

    6) Finally once the box is more or less completed, you'll need to cut the Plexiglas sheet to the length of the window, using a Plexiglas cutter and a blowtorch to trim the ages, then attach the aluminium corners and the hinge using bolts ans nuts. for convince I've also atatched a handle

    Step 3: ---ELECTRONICS--- _1: Power Supply

    To get started with the electronics part, I took a 450w computer psu, as the heart of the project. As it will be fitted under the 3d printer capsule, I cut the unnecessary metal part of the case with an angle grinder, this is optional, but I got motivated and cat as much as I could, provably too much : ).

    Once the atx psu was modified, making sure that it takes up as less space as possible making it ergonomic at the same time, I took the second psu, basically was the one which comes with the 3d printer, but you could use or a n atx or a normal one. and attached both using crews, and cut the remaining part of the screw with an angel grinder

    Finally I moved on with the next step, creating the pcb.

    Step 4: ---ELECTRONICS--- _2: Creating the Pcb's

    This is a bit laborious, because you need chemicals, so put on your face mask and your gloves and let’s get started with the topic.

    I went to the photocopy room to print those pdf’s (without the mask and the gloves), if you are familiar with etching pcb’s, this hasn’t anything new, but I’m going to explaining a little bit:

    • You printed in a satiated paper with a laser printer, then you iron the paper to a virgin copper pcb, previously cleaned with wire wool and acetone.
    • Then you immerse the copper pcb in ferric chloride or in oxide peroxide and chloride acid, and here comes the magic.

    Once the magic has happened, comes the amazing part of drilling the holes, my favorite part : ), as you may expected, you take a tiny bit and drill like one million holes.

    Then, take all the components, classify them and solder them on their corresponding holes, that all.

    I'll put all the pdf's with the pcb and the components and all that stuff on the final part of the instructable

    Step 5: ---ELECTRONICS--- _3: Octoprint & Raspberry Pi

    Loading octoprint to your rpi

    This process takes quite o lot of time, especially the imager part, and is quite annoying when it doesn’t reply, but on internet there are a few tutorials on how to do it.

    You ll need a rpi, a 5v phone charger with a non-apple usb cable (throw away that bull shit, cable and apple phone), a micro sd with as much capacity as you can get , an Ethernet cable or a wifi adapter, and a computer with win32 disc imager installer installed and the octoprint imatge downloaded.

    Once you have imager added the software with disc imager (I love imaginative names), you connect all the stuff, cross your fingers and give it a try

    Then you connect all the stuff and with putty or other, ssh connection services and you follow the youtube tutorial steps, they are super well explained.

    Now get yourself a good camera and a pcf8574 i2c extender and give it a test.

    I mounted the raspberry and the i2c extender on a Plexiglas base, but it's not essential.

    Once you've checked if it works, and it works (important step), you can mount the peripheral components, the camera, you have to atach in one of the walls, and pass the wire trow the corners, securing it with hot glue.

    I've used this step to load the code on the arduino, connect the shield and give it a test.

    Step 6: ---ELECTRONICS--- _5: Run the Wires

    To connect the top box with the lowest one, I've used an atx power connector, just because it seems to have enough connections (noup), I have a hole bunch of them , and they look professional, so taking your time, connect all the box nº1 cables to the box nº2 trow the connector block. maybe the disoldering part looks the more difficult one, but take your blowtorch, and it will came out really easilly.

    Once you have the wires in both boxes, connect the wires to the pcb.

    Step 7: ---ELECTRONICS--- _6: Electrical Stuff

    In this step I've attached an led strip to the box, the ds1b20 using some scrap Plexiglas, i've bended using the blowtorch and screwed to the depth wall. also, take a 60mm fan and crewed in one of the walls.

    Also, you may want to connect a high power orange led to indicate if there are any troubles, and don't forget to connect the load sensor as well, but more in the next step.

    You may also want to connect a relatively high power heating element, in order to make it even more inefficient, take a nicrom wire give it a curious shape, that will be connected in a external mosfet, attached to a big heat sink, cause that will get really hot.

    Step 8: ---ELECTRONICS--- _7: Load Sensor

    This will help you to monitor the remaining filament by weight, so connect the load sensor as indicated in the datasheet and put your favorite filament holder. I've used like a sandwich set up to make sure that all the weight is applied to the sensor.

    Step 9: ---ELECTRONICS--- _8: Front Pannel

    to make the front panel, i've used aluminium, so cut them using an angel grinder and make all the holes and so to fit all the components. For that i've used a lot the 3d printer, to print all the knobs and so.

    Step 10: Last Setting &co.

    Give it a test, in my case, it did not work at first, cause the psu need a minimum load, so i've putted like a nicrom wire connected to the 5v in order to make it even more un efficient.

    Now put your 3d printer in its corresponding place and wahha, you have an awesome 3d printer enclossure

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    3D Printing Contest 2016

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