Aluminum Extrusion 3D Printer Cabinet
A few months ago, I moved my studio from Industry City to a private space in the Prospect Park South historical district. It’s been a great excuse to buy weird tools at estate sales, stockpile foamcore, and saw some wood. Practice makes perfect, and I’m practicing, but I’ve never been particularly handy with woodwork. Even in design school, I did my best to make up for my shoddy paint and diamond-hard glue squeeze-outs with beautiful 3D models and renderings.
So if I want to make anything worthwhile I’m going to have to join the 21st century and get a 3D printer. And since I want things to be easy, but I like to suffer, I’m eyeing up a Prusa i3 kit, so I can put together this complicated, high-tech machine myself. In fairness to me, I can put together anything from Ikea without breaking a metaphorical sweat (I sweat profusely at all times in all conditions) and I read my car’s owners’ manual cover-to-cover two whole times so I think I can handle it.
My first plan was to set it up next to my desk, so I could watch it print and see the progress as it happens. But it turns out that, depending on the filament you print with, they can release some pretty weird and bad fumes. Even PLA, polylactic acid, a plant-based polymer, can create a cloud of harmful nanoparticles. I smoked cigarettes for years, and have breathed in plenty of blue foam dust in my day, so I’m not historically cautious about ventilation. However, I owe it to my cat to provide a healthy and clean environment, and reckless abandon begrudgingly belongs in my 20s.
This week’s Render Weekly challenge is to “Download and render something from McMaster-Carr”, possibly the most exciting online hardware catalog. As much as I love a ULINE catalog — who knew plastic bags came in so many different sizes? — nothing beats McMaster. It’s Christmas every day when McMaster-Claus comes down your mail chute.
For this week’s Render, I’m sharing a design for a 3D printer enclosure designed and built from McMaster-Carr parts. Specifically, their T-slotted aluminum extrusion system, which appears to be generic 80/20 parts. I love this stuff. As a LEGO-loving child, nothing would make me happier today than a storage unit full of 80/20. Here’s the design below, with step-by-step assembly instructions. Click here for a full parts list with quantities and unit/total costs, which I’ll reference below. If you build it, please share your photos and tag me if you post it on Instant-Graham!
That’s all there is to it! As shown, this can be built for about $750, but possibly as little as $500 with some substitutions for insert panels and panel hardware, oddly the most expensive parts. Again, if you build this or some variation, I’d love to see how it turns out! I’ll share my own progress when I get to building it myself.