[Jon] a.k.a. [Pedantite] recently added small-scale laser cutting to his business and thought about using that laser cutter to add some value to some of the many project designs he creates. Yes, this means custom laser cut enclosures, but how to go about it? [Jon] loves automation, and that can only mean automated design of laser cut enclosures by reading the board files from his project library.
The idea of automating the design of plastic enclosures was to read the design files, figure out the dimensions of the board and where the mounting holes go, and generate a file for the laser cutter. The weapon of choice was OpenSCAD, a design language that can be highly parameterized, read external design files, and spit out proper DXF files for laser cutting.
[Jon] set up his toolchain as a Python script that reads design files, sends parameters off to a .SCAD file, and generates a DXF for the laser cutter. There’s also a bit that generates enough data for Blender to render a 3D image of the finished product, all only from gerbers, a drill file, and a few user variables.
The source for these files haven’t been released yet, but that’s only because it’s in a proof-of-concept stage right now. You can check out an example of a render of one of the cases below.
12 thoughts on “Automated CAD Design For Enclosures”
computer aided design design
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Pfft, we have automated ATM machines now.
Here’s a link to a similar project if you need source. It doesn’t quite do the same magic, but it does do something similar by creating enclosures with finger joints for a laser cutter.
Something like this would be really useful for 3D printers too!
so far, I have been using rahul’s ‘tab box maker’ (search for it by that name) with good results. also there is an inkscape plugin that gives more control over dimensions (but for some reason, lately, it has generated wrong tab sizes for me. not sure why.)
there is room for better box makers, though. there are lots of tab styles and ways to make boxes with tabs and so nicer tools would be welcome.
I do this laser box stuff a lot, lately, for arduino and pi projects (of course; have to tweak the pi and duino haters here, lol). with the box styles I use, I have to start with the box-maker tools but then do lots of manual labor to make it fit glue-less with just a few screws to hold it together.
Rahul’s tab box maker is fantastic especially for people with just hand tools but it won’t work out the mounting holes for you afaik.
It won’t but I always import into CorelDRAW and work from there :) Here’s one of the boxes I made some time ago – https://www.flickr.com/photos/oflittleinterest/5745724080
CorelDraw has VBA, it’s easy enough write your own routines.
Not that hard to write code to export straight to g-code as well.
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