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3D printers for enclosure design

3D printers for enclosure design

3D printers for enclosure design

(OP)
the projects I am currently working on require miniaturised circuitry and low power consumption. So board size would be perhaps slightly bigger than a coin-cell. I have a number of other projects where the board size is limited to the 2xAAA cells that it uses for power.

I'm really struggling to find sensibly priced enclosures to house these prototypes - and of course you can't get the boards printed before the enclosure is sourced (to get alignment pins or rails properly accommodated. Real chicken & egg situation!

So i'm wondering as to the viability of printing my own enclosures.

does anyone have experience of this? willing to share designs?

My local fab-house rents it's makerbot at 10Eur per hour. I have no idea how long it would take to print up a variety of enclosures. But I'm looking for prototyping costs to be at c. eur2 per item level. Possible?

Alternatively, I wonder whether it is plausible to design some robust enclosures using laser cut acrylic? Lady Ada certainly thinks it is!

RE: 3D printers for enclosure design

Does the rental price include materials?

I would guess that parts of the size you're describing would take around 20 minutes to print on a makerbot, but that'll depend on the specifics of the 3d model, the nozzle size used & how accurate you want it to be.

If materials are not included, I'd guess about $40/kg would cover it if you're using ABS or PLA.

I'd say your cost target is 60% lower than what I'd guess it'll cost based on the above pricing and time estimates. [(1hr / 3 encl) * (10EUR/hr) + (matls $0.50/encl)]>(EUR 2)


RE: 3D printers for enclosure design

The AdaFruit enclosures offered on that site don't meet your price target.

3D printing probably never will, either. It will be very handy for prototyping with details and stuff, but if appearance is a criterion, you won't like the Z finish, or the sanding necessary to correct it.

You can probably meet your price target in volumes of a few hundred pieces by finding someone who does injection molding in aluminum molds. Sadly, my own source for such things has gone to greener pastures.



RE: 3D printers for enclosure design

(OP)
thanks both.

@MikeHalloran
the AdaFruit enclosures definitely don't match my target price. particularly when you factor in the cost of transport etc.
appearance is not essential at this point. but the testers have to live with the stuff in their houses so some form of aesthetic will be needed!
unfortunately prototyping is limited to 10-20 per model as I/We will be soldering by hand (ovens but a manual process). I'm not up for multiplying that by ten!

@ivyMike
materials are not included for laser cutting. No. good spot! Acrylic sheets are sold by Artilect at 7eur for 605 X 203 x 3mm. For the printer, material is included.
your calculations look solid notwithstanding however. I wonder whether a laser cut, assembled enclosure might be better idea in the short term.

In the meantime I went back to my mouser.com account and saw that I'd already uploaded a BoM for four of my projects (auto-uploaded from Eagle) and that i have designated enclosures for some of them already. Priced quite reasonably for a commercial play. e.g.
http://www.mouser.fr/Search/ProductDetail.aspx?R=S... @ €3 for a one off

and even a USB enclosure at less than €2 eur.
http://www.mouser.fr/Search/ProductDetail.aspx?R=P...

This covers off a small number of my existing projects and gives me hope that suitable enclosures may be available for the other prototypes (I am middle-aged and forgetful; but in my defence the project has been mothballed for the last year!) but doesn't seem quite as rewarding as a home-build - perhaps I'll persuade myself to buy a 3D printer and laser cutter (although laser cutters seems like hard work, even though they are now at 200eur or so for the low end).



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