Designing And Printing A Custom Enclosure


So you know how to design a circuit board, assemble the parts, and have a functional device at the end of a soldering session. Great, but if you want to use that device in the real world, you’re probably going to want an enclosure, and Tupperware hacked with an Exacto knife just won’t cut it. It’s actually not that hard to design a custom enclosure for you board, as [Glen] demonstrates with a custom 3D printed project box.

[Glen]’s board, a quad RS-422 transmitter with a PMOD connector, was designed in Eagle. There are a vast array of scripts and plugins for this kind of mechanical design work, including the EagleUP plugins that turn an Eagle PCB into a 3D object that can be imported into SketchUp.

Taking measurements from Eagle, [Glen] designed a small project box that fits the PCB. A few standoffs were added, and the board itself was imported into SketchUp. From there, all he needed to do was to subtract the outline of the connectors from the walls of then enclosure for a custom-fit case. Much better than Tupperware, and much easier than designing a laser cut enclosure.

Once the enclosure was complete, [Glen] exported the design as an STL, ready for 3D printing or in his case, sending off to Shapeways. Either way, the result is a custom enclosure with a perfect fit.


19 thoughts on “Designing And Printing A Custom Enclosure

      1. because people spend far to much time specializing any more. coders are coders, drafters are drafters, cnc operators are cnc operators, etc… you get the jist. I can’t tell you how many people i know or deal with that get even just the slightest bit out of their comfort zone or specialty and they are completely useless


        but i do agree with you if you have a .dxf a hole really is not that hard to do

        1. It makes me incredibly sad to hear you say this..

          Diversity in engineering (and well, LIFE) is everything! You’d think that, because it’s CAD, it’s NOT rocket science, but sadly it appears that we’re mistaken. :-/

          1. At times, specialisation is required to drive a field forward. In that case the importance of teamwork and collaboration becomes more apparent. Diversity is not restricted to an individual, as in most cases a team or community of people with highly developed knowledge will beat out a single jack of all trades.

          2. I can’t argue with that, however everyone on a team must have at least some general understanding even if they’re not an expert. It does no one any good if you’re ignorant (or unwilling to learn) a process or skill, simply because it’s “outside your comfort zone”.

            I’m not saying that each person has to do everything themselves, just that they should be open to attempting (or at least becoming familiar with) new things.

          3. @medix
            This is obviously true, but it downplays the sheer breadth of crap there is to know. It’s entirely possible to fill a room with literal geniuses who are also full-on renaissance-style polymaths while still having fairly little overlap in their expertise. No matter how “open” a person is, there just isn’t enough time in the day to be open to learning literally anything that comes along.

            It’s entirely possible for someone to have even broader knowledge and skills than you and to be even more willing to invest time in exploring new skills while still lacking skills you consider elementary, and it seems to me that it’d be polite to assume this is the case until proven otherwise for humility’s sake if nothing else.

          4. Honestly, this is the most ridiculous argument. You can not expect a “team” to work together if they do not have some overlapping knowledge. However I do see this from time to time. My current coworker is a DBA, and all he does is manage sql server. While all well and good, he has not managed to even begin to dip his hands into managing Oracle DB’s. This puts him at a huge disadvantage as he is expected to work with oracle DBA’s and understand them just as they understand him. Anyone who is focused on only one area of expertise is ignorant in assuming that becoming a subject matter expert absolves them of general ignorance. He who is intelligent will learn all there is to learn at any time they get the opportunity, as that makes them capable of adapting and dealing with the whole picture, however if discovering that the learned knowledge is useless they are free to forget it as well. Even now, current corporations want people with flexibility instead of a one trick pony. Anyone who is considered an expert in their field of study almost always has branched out to the far reaches of his/her field and picked up some overlapping knowledge.

    1. A couple of hours is a lot cheaper than what one of those packages cost though. Not everyone has the budget to buy a proper CAD package or are willing to pirate them.

      That said, I wish that the guys that make these excellent programs would wake the f_ck up and realise how much extra money they could make by creating stripped down cheap versions of their programs. You don’t even have to offer customer support, just get it out there and let the community take care of the rest.

      1. Eh, their business model is pretty much built on the legit businesses that have little choice but to license professional software, and to whom the cost is basically chump change compared to the salary of the person using it. Making a stripped-down cheapo version may well not represent a tremendous return on investment, especially given the possibility of cannibalizing the professional version’s user base (eg a company that doesn’t really need the full version but would have been willing to pay the full license fee instead using the cheapo because hey, it’s there).

        Still, I agree that it’s pretty weird how huge the gulf is between stuff like SketchUp and the full featured pro apps. You’d think there’d be more in-between, just-sorta-expensive software.

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