3D Printers For Enclosures

#1

I have a few projects require printing some component enclosures, these will mainly be for safety separating AC and DC elements and isolating AC terminals.

I am a little overwhelmed with all the 3D printers and the options out there. I am after a printer that can print up to 150x150x150mm and can print heat resistant plastics. I can’t find much info on the types of filaments for heat resistant printing, and the types of printers required.

Do any of you guys have experience with 3D printers, especially with regards to enclosure fabrication?

#2

How much heat will there be? Is it just normal warm electronics, or will it be exposed to an actual heat source? For electronics you can use anything, I normally use PLA which is a low temperature filament but prints very easily.

Do you need a really nice finish like for a case that someone will hold in their hand, or is it going to be stuffed inside a wall somewhere?

#3

Probably not that much heat @jon, just me being overly courteous with regards to component warmth.
I have started to use the mini buck converters rather than LD1117s to get to 3.3v and that has helped a lot, but I am still a little worried with the AC-5vDC module even though the amps are <150ma.

I am not looking for a fantastic finish, most of the items will be wall mount/hidden enclosures. The only visible unit is a smart ceiling hub I am designing, this will house temp/hum, light, smoke and motion sensor, on the back of a arduino nano and a eth shield.

I will probably end up making a few thinks that are visible but if the finish is rough I can always use a buffer and some paint/clear coat to make more appealing.

One thing I would really like to do is re-purpose our old phones and tablets that still work great but lack battery capacity and modern aesthetics, using them as interfaces in the kitchen and other area’s with their own enclosure to fit the rest of the home style (and have power), being more of a helpful stylish fixture.

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#4

I run the Anet A8. Complete with upgrades it is about $300. That includes a RaspberryPi web server for OctoPrint so I have web access.

The RaspberryPi setup adds about $100. The base printer is an astounding $117 on sale but you have to assemble it. It has roughly 200x200x200 build volume and a heated bed. I print PLA mostly. I would suggest an enclosure if you want to use ABS; but I don’t think printing ABS is required for almost any home project. PETG is also a very good filament option and can be printed on the Anet.

Just pick your price budget and google “best printer under $500”. There are tons out there.

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#5

The Anet A8 seems to have a good reputation, as @aspork42 said. I have a few printers but I mostly use a Prusa i3 Mk3 with the MMU2 because it’s so reliable. However, that’s a very expensive printer. You can get something that’s 80% as good for a much lower price. One of the best value printers I’ve seen so far is the Kossel Delta Linear, which is the one my friend Chris mostly uses. It’s incredible how well it works (and how fast it is) at such a low price. If you go for a Kossel Delta, make sure you get the “Linear” version. It’s only slightly more expensive than the regular version but uses linear rails instead of wheels.

#6

If you are looking at a DIY job I’ve just built an MP3DP, quite impressed. I picked this largely since I already had all the electronics on hand and access to a CNC and 3D Printer so cost was pretty minimal, also the process of building it was big part of the fun :slight_smile:

https://www.v1engineering.com/projects/project-3d-printer/

#7

After much thought, I think I’ll go with the Anycubic Kossel Plus Linear, looks like it does most things I need and more. Nice being able to print to 300mm high and it seems to print decent quality (for the price).

Seems like it will be perfect for enclosures and od bits and bats and does both PLA and ABS.

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#8

So did you end up buying one? I just did. I figure it will be a good one for a starter printer for me. It was half the price of the laser printer I just bought so how can I go wrong on that? :sunglasses: I am totally clueless on this stuff and since I am nuggets deep in all this other tech that I am learning, why not toss in a bit more learning curve?

#9

Yip @Guru_Of_Nothing, she is a ripper.

Took a little while to figure out how to properly level the bed, the auto bed levelling is ok, to begin with, but then you kind of need to manually adjust the height in 0.1mm increments till you get a decent first layer. Not to close otherwise it pushes it around too much but not to bar as it looks shit or even won’t stick to the bed.

I have yet to do anything groundbreaking other than a few enclosures. I am trained in using Autodesk Revit so once I figured out how to export from there I was stoked as I don’t really want to go through learning yet another 3D package and I have been using it for 10+ years and comfortable to push the envelope in it… making boxes LOL

I have only used PLA, and honestly think its good for most around the home stuff, it’s not to greate with long term compression or tension but for say a lug with a bolt or screw that is just holding not to much weight it should be fine.

Its surprisingly fast too, I sat their for an hour watching it totally mesmerized and trying to figure out the code to have the 3 axes working so well.

#10

Awesome! I am pretty excited to get it and start playing around with it. Anything I should know setup wise, like software (printer) type stuff or what not? I have no knowledge at all about 3d printing.

#11

I found the manual pretty good, especially for assembly. I would go strait ahead and download the latest version of Cura, You will also need it to generate the .gcode files that are not on the SD card, they only give .stl, took me a while before I was like… oh they are stl and not gcode… thats why the printer cant see them.

I ended up running a .3mm base layer and .2mm for the rest and this helps with speed and makes it look pretty fine, I used .4mm height and while it was fast it looked a bit rough.

Just remember to take the leveling magnet off after leveling, otherwise it has a fit lol
I was very surprised for the price how well it performs.

I am currently design a router head for mine so I can do some simple 1 layer PCB etching with it too, hopefully I cant up my my prototyping with it too.

#12

I got my Kossel Delta + yesterday and I am dying to get it assembled. But now that its summer here in the States, I have too much yard work to catch up on. Ugh. In time… in time…

#13

I got it assembled. Felt a lot like IKEA flatpack setup but I am fluent in ‘making crap work’ so it wasn’t too bad of a setup. I did the bed level thingy and you are right, she’s a complainer when the leveling magnet doohickey is still there when you try to do other stuff :smiley: I also believe I went the same direction you did on trying out the first print. I followed their instructions to just go onto the SD card and grab a test project… which doesn’t even show up unless you take the SD card and slice one of them in Cura first. That had me by the short hairs for a good hour. I tried running a print and adjusting the height a dozen or more times and couldn’t get it right. I had to clean it up and set it aside for a bit out of frustration. I have too many projects going on to track with this one at the moment. It acts like it won’t put out enough material… like the feed rate is too slow on the filament. I tried cranking the heat up from 200 to 210 with little to no effect. I am sure it is something simple like a setting I am unaware of. It will do a print. It just does it with little wads of material instead a smooth stream of plastic.

Suggestions?

#14

That sounds frustrating. You could test whether the filament is flowing properly by pushing it through with your fingers from the end of the Bowden tube. Move the head so that it’s hanging in space somewhere in the middle of the machine, set the extruder temperature to something appropriate depending on the filament type, then release the filament from the feed motor, pinch it between your fingers, and push. It should come out the nozzle in a smooth stream while you’re pushing it.

I’ve done that many times with my friend Nick’s Kossel Delta when I’m changing filaments, to clear out the old colour from the nozzle. If it doesn’t flow, there may be some problem with the extruder such as the nozzle not heating up properly.

#15

I can easily push the filament through the nozzle by hand so I don’t believe I have a blockage or temp issue. It acts like the motor isn’t turning fast enough for the needed feed.

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#16

@Guru_Of_Nothing Have you managed to get it working?

You could try aiding the feed motor to trouble shoot if that’s the issue.

#17

I think I got it scared now. I was playing around with it and determined a couple things. First of aall, the nozzle temp was too low. I did not change anything in Cura so my initial temp settings on the printer did nothing of value. It was running too cool and creating cottage cheese. I cranked the temp up to 212 for giggles in Cura and tthen started printing a mini mug from the printer test prints and realized then that I needed to adjust the Z setting down a couple notches. Seems to be doing a decent job now so with some tweaking, I ought to get some decent prints here soon. I have noticed though that I am having a horrible time with sticking on the stock Anycubic mat. Like… stuck like concrete. Even of the print was solid, I’d have to chisel it off. I have it set to 70. Suggestions there? Am thinking of getting a round mirror and removing the base pad. The pad has a texture and I think that is where the problem lies.

Are you using SD card to print or are you connected to your printer or a RPi? I was thinking setting up an OctoPi since I have a spare 3B lying around but I am not sure that I need that level of control. Slice, stab and go on a sneakernet isn’t really that big of a deal.

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#18

Yeah I have the same problem with the print bed, but I guess its better sticking than not at all lol, I used a glue stick on the bed and not to sure if it helped my prints or hindered them, the z axis was not set correctly when i did that so not sure how it would be without it.

I use the SD card for prints as I trust it more than my laptop that is in the workshop (it dies occasionally), I am not sure how Cura sends the data so I don’t want it dying mid print. I was thinking to use OctoPi too but talked myself out of it as my requirements are pretty mild, I don’t really need to do anything fancy, its mainly enclosures for various things.

I am thinking of taking one of the kids old lenovo tablets and making an home hub to sit on the kitchen counter top, I will just print a enclosure in two halves that will provide the stand/tilt and house a powerpack too so it lasts a bit longer before charging (there is not power point in the counter top).
I think that should put it though its paces.

#19

I’m glad you’re making progress :slight_smile:

The usual problem with 3D printers is the object NOT sticking to the print bed well enough. People go to all sorts of lengths to increase adhesion. The textured sticker for the Kossel seems to be particularly sticky, but you can get the prints off OK with a bit of practice. I use a knife blade out of one of those retractable knives (with the sections that you snap off) and put it almost parallel to the bed, slightly angled down, and wriggle the edge of the blade under the edge of the object. Work your way around, gently release the edges of the object, and it should peel off the bed OK. Don’t force it or rush it.

I love OctoPi because I can be sitting in the lounge with my laptop and fire off a print in my lab. I have a webcam mounted on the frame of my enclosure so I can see the print from inside the OctoPi interface, and check that nothing has gone wrong.

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#20

I should clarify: I use the knife blade technique on a Kossel, but these pics are of my Prusa which uses a flexible steel build plate, so it’s a totally different method. With the Prusa you lift the build plate (it’s attached with magnets) and flex it slightly, and the print just pops off.

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