3D Printing A NAS Server Case

It’s good to back up, and despite that, few of us do. [Brian] we suspect is of the more diligent persuasion, given his strong enthusiasm for network attached storage. Recently, he found himself looking for a new case for his DIY build, and decided to go the 3D printed route.

The case is the design of one [Toby K], who sells the design online. [Brian] set out to produce the case himself using a Prusa i3, investing much time into the process. Total print time for the successful parts alone was over 227 hours, not including the failed parts and reprints.

Assembly caused some headaches, with various hinges and dovetails not fitting together perfectly first time. Not one to shy away from some proper down and dirty making, [Brian] was able to corral the various parts into fitting with a combination of delicate hammering, filing, and reprinting several broken pieces.

Overall, accounting for the filament used and hardware required, [Brian] spent over $200 producing the case. For those who just need a housing for their NAS, it doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense. But for those who enjoy the build, and like the opportunity to customize their case as they see fit, the time and money can certainly be worth it. As [Brian] states, there aren’t too many cases on the market that ship with his logo on the grill.

We’ve seen other 3D printed case builds before, too. Video after the break.

16 thoughts on “3D Printing A NAS Server Case

  1. I think this is an interesting project but am a little dismayed that the design is being sold $28 under a non-free license (no remix?). Add that to the cost of filament and print time and there is basically zero reason for anyone else to make use of all this work. Locking the design up behind a non-free license turns what is already a kind of crazy proposition ($200 for a NAS case) into a losing proposition. Thanks but no thanks.

      1. Assuming one wants a custom case which you’re not permitted to modify and which includes the creators’ face printed on the front. That’s a bold strategy, cotton :D

        1. Hey guys, it’s the blog’s author here –but not the case’s designer! I think some of you might be misinterpreting the license and would encourage you to reach out to Toby (the case’s designer) for clarification.

          The desecration of the case with my face was something that Toby encouraged me to do. As long as the modifications are for your personal use, I don’t think you’re running afoul of the license. Now, if I were to start uploading that model to other sites for free or otherwise, then I’d be violating the license.

    1. Yeah, this is kind of a clown move. I’m not against selling STLs for a reasonable price (though you can be sure 9 times out of 10 I’d rather just design my own then pay for somebody else’s work), but $28 is outrageous. Even half that is probably more than what most people would be willing to spend.

  2. I’ve been thinking of doing a partially 3D-printed case myself. I wouldn’t bother printing it entirely, but making the frame out of wood and only 3D-printing any specialty-parts, like e.g. drive-caddies and such, and the most visible faces would seem a little less costly endeavour. Granted, just buying a case would still be more cost-effective, but less fun.

  3. In 227 hours I could get (and have got!) a custom case laser cut out of steel, powder coated, with all fasteners, threaded holes, etc. included, and shipped to me from Protocase, with whatever full-colour graphics I want. They’re the folks who do the 45drives enclosures (which are admittedly a little overkill for most home NAS setups).

    Any non-trivial design from them will be more than $200, but what’s your time worth?

    And what would be the real cost of this if you properly accounted for it, like getting Shapeways to do it? (and you’d still be left with heat-producing electronics in a non-EMI-shielded flammable case with a softening temperature of 60C…)

  4. This highlights a struggle I have with FOSS. How does one put food on the table. It’s one thing to be all warm and fuzzy for the community but I like to eat and I’m sure Toby does too.
    Designing a product takes lots of time. And time is money.

    It wasn’t long go buying a plan to build an item was quiet common but now there seems to be an expectation that a design isn’t a tangible product – it’s just a few ones and zeroes.

    1. Short answer, one puts food on the table with money obtained from one’s job just like everyone else.

      Longer answer..

      Not putting food on your table is only a problem for FOSS if you consider FOSS to be your career. There are many reasons people develop Open Source stuff including but not limited to..

      – they enjoy it
      – to obtain experience
      – warm feelings / to create a legacy for oneself
      – because they want the final product but hope to get others to contribute to the development/mainenance *
      – to make money by providing support for the product **

      * – Of course actually building a team who will contribute and do so with high enough quality to be usable is a big job in and of itself at which most fail
      ** – Only really works for the most successful few projects but it has been done

      What about consuming Open Source? Regardless why people make it why would you pay for something somebody else is willing to give you for free? Besides, I find that open source stuff works better for me most of the time. It’s more customizable, usually more compatible with competing products and if it’s a successful project it or a compatible fork will probably be around longer than the competition.

      So… why would you even try to create a closed source, for-money product that competes with existing open source projects? It sounds like a pretty wasted effort to me. Why would anyone buy them? I am a software developer myself, I work on a product that serves a niche field that is unlikely ever to see an open source competitor. I would never consider trying to sell STLs. There are too many of those out there for free download. I have and will release STLs and the OpenSCAD that generated them for the reasons above but selling them would just be a waste of my time. It would be like setting up a store next to another that sells the exact same items yet marking all my prices higher.

  5. Well you can just call me a clown, since I bought the design. I’m a bit surprised at the general response here, comments about price (you could really design, prototype, document this, etc. for $28?), open source (PLEASE tell me where the open source competitor of this is), time to build (just stupid, the printer does the time, not me!), cost to build (really? That’s my problem, not yours).
    I’ll be using this for my NAS because it’s just flat out the best design I’ve found that is 3D printable on my printer. It might just be the best design for a six drive ZFS RAID-Z2 NAS out here. I really considered a Silverstone D380B, but the cooling on that is pretty dicey, plus being forced into an SFX power supply didn’t sit really well. Granted, I’m not much of a CAD guy and have just short of 12 months experience 3D printing, but I am a craftsman. I’d rather spend three months building a dining room table that will last generations than spending my money on some “off shore” junk in some value or even high-end furniture store. If the design is good, if the craftsman knows what they are doing and has the right tools, the results should be as expected.
    Although I only just started printing this, I can tell you the documentation is as good as you can find. When I was a young man, I did a few Heath Kit projects and absolutely enjoyed the making and the end results. Sure, Heath Kit is long since gone, but I’m approaching this in the same way I did then, I’m going to learn something, I’m going to enjoy the process, I’m getting value for my money. In the end I have a truly usable product that demonstrates what todays “consumer grade” 3D printer can do. I’m happy with that.

    1. For those that did not do any research on this (I did because I was thinking of buying one), the entire beta test of the case was public (that in its self says a lot) and is really informative once you get past a lot of chatter by the beta testers. I think the case Brian was showcasing was the one he did as a beta tester and he seemed to have a lot more issues with fitting parts than the others, or perhaps he was just more vocal when he hit an issue. There were notes there that some items were changed so I hope/expect some of those issues have been fixed. There are even some FLIR images of a case under CPU & Disk I/O stress there. 3D printing still requires you to have your tools tuned-up and make adjustments as needed, but I’ll be sure to let you know if I run into the same issues.

  6. Folks, let’s face reality, here. How many of YOU would be willing to work for pennies an hour and be raged at because you dare to charge for your work? You lot complaining because he is ‘charging too much’ or ‘restricting your freedom to do what you want with what you buy’ need to give yourselves a good punch in the head to wake you up to your own delusional, arrogant sense of entitlement. (…unless you are socialists; in which case, carry on, comrade; you are making Father Stalin proud!) More than three thousand years ago it was observed that ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire’. Has that changed? Do y’all deserve to get everything for free or next to nothing, no matter how hard someone else had to work to provide it? Would you be willing to take a 90% pay cut so that your company could charge 90% less for what it did? All of you whiners should be ashamed of yourselves; if your parents had done their jobs properly, they would certainly be ashamed of you.

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