Solved How do you design 3D enclosure for your electronics projects?

vigole

Daemon

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I used to outsource enclosure 3D design of my electronics projects to others. Mainly AVR-based hobbyist gadget/IoT. They guy who was responsible for designing enclosure/box was using some software(s) for designing and sending the final result to the 3D printing, CNC, injection moulding, etc.

Now I'm on my own, and have no idea which software I have to learn/use to design 3D enclosure. There's a lot of names, e.g. FreeCAD, LibreCAD, Blender, Wings 3D, etc. I'm looking for a FLOSS software. Any idea? Thanks.
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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LibreCAD for 2D work and FreeCAD for solid models and surfaces.
I have never learned how to draw well in Blender. It seems more than I need.

On a more general note I build alot of my own chassis.
3D is overkill for the shop. Most all my designs are 2D. Everything is screwed together.
Usually heatsink milled in the lid with a front flap and the lower half of shell has board and I/O flap.
Much like the APU Chassis. That style being very prevalent.
I find it useful to do XY-dimension drawing for drilling the chassis holes and then come back and do some bending.
I like using Aluminum. With the right technique you can bend it nice. APU annodized chassis is nice. I like that finish.
"With oxy-acetylene, soot the aluminum."
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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I wanted to make a deluxe chassis for my APU3-"special order with horizontal PCIe x1 slot". Installed is WinTV card.
So I used a solid chunk of bronze and milled out the guts leaving a 3mm wall on 5 sides.
I used raised islands for the CPU and the RAM on the bottom of the board for passive cooling.
Made a custom pocket for the tuner card.
The case turned out nice. Too bad free TV is not worth recording. The project turned out OK.
 

astyle

Aspiring Daemon

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Well, 3d printers take .stl files, so anything that can work with those would probably fit the bill. Pick something that's easy to use and can export the result as a .stl file. As for working with actual materials - pay attention to PPE, and don't burn yourself.
 
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vigole

vigole

Daemon

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OpenSCAD appeals to my programmer sensibilities.
I'm certainly more comfortable with parametric/scripting programs. I can sing the Circle of Fifths, but I can't draw a damn circle by hand -- my Spatial IQ is negative!
 
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vigole

vigole

Daemon

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Thanks everyone. I think the Neubert suggestion i.e. OpenSCAD is the right choise for me. So I'll mark the thread as "Solved".
 

Lamia

Aspiring Daemon

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I have been using OPENSCAD. It is easy yet requires patience. It's not only about the advantage of being OOP but also readily available source code for pretty much most Electronics components and accessories. In no time, you will be making casing and adding components to it. There are several GitHub repos for these various blocks of circuitry.

You can then export in .STL for printing or use in another IDE or environment. You will however be faced with the problem of what best value for amplification of your design at the point of printing. Scaling is a challenge but there are ways around it.
 

tingo

Son of Beastie

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FWIW, my OpenSCAD tip: add a "fudge" factor to model features that might need adjustment (like holes, pins, pegs and so on). Initially, the "fudge" variable is set to a small value (for example 0.1), and if you need to adjust your model to be "perfect" when printed, simply increase the fudge variable. This way you get objects that are "press fit" when needed.
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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I need a chassis for my BeagleBone with GPIO cape.
So I grabbed a chunk of 2" Thick Delron plastic out of the stock rack and cut a chunk off.
Then I cut that in half. (I make 2 cases for prototypes.)
I take them to Bridgeport and square them up. Two equal rectangular blocks.
Now I am milling a pocket in one side for BBB and then pocket on backside for 18650 Battery holder/UPS parts.
I have a XY dimension print for hole locations from prior BBB work.

So my point is I don't use design software. I do it all in my head. These are personal projects so function over form.

I have built plastic injection molds and prototype molds are aluminum and have limited runs.
A full mold (heat treated using a DME mold base) is much more expensive but can operate millions of cycles with little repair.

I could see fluid dynamics software being a great aid to plastic flows/mold design.
Keeping a mold running smoothly requires a skilled operator even with a well designed mold..
 

Neubert

Member

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I take them to Bridgeport and square them up.
Nice! I'm curious: how many hours do you think it would take an absolute beginner to learn the milling machine "well enough" to create simple objects? I wish I had access to one....
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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Stuff like plastic is ideal for learning. I would say a sharp helper can be making parts in 6 months.
That is full blown utility person. Not just Bridgeport but all around.

They make Benchtop CNC mills that would probably suffice for home use.
One advantage for me is free material at work.
We buy extra material and the left over from jobs are called drops.
So we stash good sized chunks around the shop.

Just remember that modern machining is additive instead of subtractive.
 
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