3D Print An Entire PC Case

With laptops having become a commodity item and single-board computers having conquered the lower end for our community, building a PC for yourself is no longer the rite of passage that it once was; except perhaps if you are a gamer. But there is still plenty of fun to be had in selecting and assembling PC hardware, especially if as [makerunit] did, you design and 3D-print your own case.

This is no motherboard in an old pizza box, but instead a highly compact and well-designed receptacle for a reasonable-performance gaming machine with an ITX motherboard. The chassis holding all the parts sits inside a slide-on textured sleeve, and particular attention has been paid to air flow and cooling. The GPU card is a little limited by the size of the case and there’s no room at all for a conventional hard drive, so a PCIe SSD board takes that role.

We’d hazard the opinion that were this case cranked out by the likes of Apple it would be hailed as some kind of design masterpiece, such is its quality. It certainly shows that there’s so much more to building your own PC than the normal rectangular tower case.

Over the decades we’ve brought you so many PC cases, a recent-ish one that’s worth a look is this Lego Minecraft one for an Intel NUC motherboard.

Thanks [Baldpower] for the tip.

33 thoughts on “3D Print An Entire PC Case

      1. Imagine comparing an rpi vs a gaming setup. Notice that he also said “printed” and not “designed”. Such a beg here, folks… again 1-liner stroke with a dull undocumented opinion, and another guy much clever than that answered, providing interesting details.
        Thank you for contributing LordNothing. You hit the spot right on about airflow bypass in big cases. GL about your build, hope it went fine.
        This 3D print is really cool, it gets the fact that not every 3D print guy has a giant printer, using really nice additions, having proper testing about cables and if they’d fit right or not.
        Another +1 on the outer design, it doesn’t feel like just a shoe box this way.

        If I were better at 3D modeling I’d add a 5.25 slot, but it’s a peculiar addition in order to use this case for a small NAS with an icebox hdd/ssd docking station.
        I’d place it on the side of it, considering on top it would get more vibrations (imagine a vegetable in the wind: the top part travels more than the lower one). Nor I’d put it on bottom, that could warm the air given to the whole setup.
        And of course, slightly modifying it in order to put just 2 PCI/PCIe slots. 1 card for hdd/ssd, 1 another for a 1G or more PCIe network card.

        Again, great idea explained here.

    1. at least this guy isnt building a machine the size of the apollo guidance computer. somehow i think gamers are compensating for something.

      large cases in air cooled builds have a huge problem with bypass air, where no matter how many fans you put in it, most of the airflow will completely bypass the components which only occupy one small corner of the case. water cooling is more acceptable in a large case, but you are effectively doubling your build budget for marginal gains. in both situations these machines are built up even bigger (with a cable management compartment) to accommodate rgb lighting and the ratsnest of additional cable that entails. im of the opinion that the correct number of cables is as small as possible, my current build has 3 if you exclude the fan headers and front panel.

      the sff build can do a lot more with less. m.2 drives take up practically no space, and with most mini-itx boards coming with dual m.2 slots, you can usually get 4-8 tb of storage easy. a good tower air cooler is going to beat most affordable water cooling solutions, though some very small builds (dan case a4-sfx for example) it can save a bit of space over an air cooler. this case seems to use a rather dinky air cooler. i think with better psu placement (or selection, ive seen utterly dinky 12 supplies that could be tucked away in a corner and free up space for cooling) this case could accommodate a full tower cooler instead. the cool thing about printing a case is you can make iterations of the design as deficiencies are found. i hope he used electrically conductive filament so he can ground it against emi.

      im building a new machine in an ncase-m1 (still waiting on some parts) and im going to be using a Noctua NH-C14S on a ryzen 5800x. my current build is a modded elite 110 with an 8086k with a cryorig c7-cu and i can get up to 4.5ghz. i hope the new build can get similar or better clock out of it with the beefier cooler (the nh-c14s has seven heat piles to the cryorig’s 4). my only complaint with the elite 110 is that it wastes about a liter or two of space about the psu, doesnt have good sfx conversion options, and i had to get the mini version of the 2070 super to make it fit, this leaves some gpu clock on the table. the m1 should solve that problem nicely while giving me a lot more fan area and room for that big(er) noctua cooler.

      1. “will provide some EMI-shielding”
        No, not really. The skin depth (roughly equivalent to shielding transparency) of carbon-fiber loaded plastic is around a billion times thicker than steel. You would need a case wall many meters thick to effectively shield RF.

        It’s OK to reduce static charge, and can do some party tricks like capacitive sensors and lighting an LED, but it’s pretty crappy for shielding.

        (Not to be confused with real carbon fiber composite construction, using carbon fiber cloth layup: this is conductive enough to ruin your day if you try to receive VHF or higher frequency signals though it. Still lousy shielding at HF and below though)

    1. i looked it up, google didn’t have any trouble finding any. alternatively foil tape, or conductive paints could also be used to solve the problem. just verify with a multimeter that every spot on the case has a path to the psu’s ground. i think i would use copper foil tape with a thick adhesive that can bond well with a striated surface (a lot of sanding is probibly required). id also print the case with screw holes for attaching ground wires through the copper, alternatively you can use through hole rivets or soldered wires, or even origami the whole thing out of a single piece.

      1. What google-fu incantation did you use to find filament that is actually good at shielding? I’m genuinely interested in finding the stuff. Note merely being somewhat “conductive” does not mean it’s any good at shielding.

          1. Yeah, so the very best of that breed is the Black Magic Graphene, with a conductivity a few million times worse than copper, and a corresponding eye-watering price tag (kilobuck per kilogram). The run-of-the-mill “electrically conductive filament” barely qualifies for the term, at a billion times the resistivity of copper. Good for static dissipation and party tricks. Really, really awful for shielding.

    2. Mostly the kids don’t seem to care about that these days.

      Though with all the poorly built, probably not complaint (but nobody enforces it) LED lights, wallwarts, etc.. out there these days maybe it doesn’t matter. It’s like peeing into a burning river.

  1. PC case prices are going up, just like everything else from China. In 2016 you could get complete a case for ~$18 shipped. Today those “open air” / “mining rig” things go for ~$80, which is little more than a collection of cheap stamped angle brackets bolted together.

    3D printing a case may prove economical should these trends continue.

      1. Only reason filament price would go up is if raw granules go up, in which case we’re all fucked anyway because our whole civilization relies on plastic.

        Appart from that any monkey (with at least 20k starting capital) can extrude very high quality printer filament in their garage and sell it for cheap.

    1. looks like a draw up configuration. seems every time i try a case with a single big fan solution, i quickly get out my dremel and add places for more fans. my elite 110 got that treatment a year or two ago when i got my 2070 super mini. though it shouldnt be too much of a problem if he used a big industrial rated fan and really cranked it (very loud, but effective).

    1. Just get some junker PC for near scrap value from Craigslist or wherever, then replace the internals with more modern stuff. Only problem is “that’s not a hack”, so then add something to it to make it one. :)

      1. I took an old gaming rig with a custom board and ground out the mounting studs so I could put in a micro ITX board and cut the case to accept a standard IO shield. Does that count enough to be a hack?

        I 3D printed a carry handle for and Optiplex Small Form Factor PC. Does that count as a hack?

        I am always uncertain where people draw the line?

  2. I’m mostly worried about heat deflection.
    The temperature inside the case will easily get above 60°C and it will turn into a flexible PC case design, hoping the PSU doesn’t rest on the GPU

    1. If you print in ABS or PETG this wont happen, in PLA, maybe but i doubt 60C will make it so flexible that it will be an issue especially since theres no way in hell you are getting air temperature inside the case to 60C, individual components? sure but not the entire air volume in the case. Average air temp in a case is slightly above room temperature even in my case that is all glass and has one exhaust fan and no intakes.

  3. This is pretty cool for a ssf build. Quite well done.

    I designed and built a case using 180mmX180mmx10mm edge connected modular panels (plus some half size 180x90mm), heild together with 5″ deck screws, for a full size atx build. The final product was quite large, 320mm(W) X 170mm(D) X 540mm(H). It was massive, ended up reconfiguring it to be wall mounted and it got a bit smaller while some of the panels got laid flat against the wall.

    I’ll try to post a link to a pic of the original configuration, and the wall mounted version if anyone is interested.

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