Friday, May 22, 2015

Cabinet for my Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer

ABS plastic can be sensitive to air currents while printing. A cool gust of air from an A/C vent, open window or ceiling fan can cause a part to warp or lift from the bed. Living in Texas we have the ceiling fan running in our home office all the time so it was a must for me to build an enclosure for my Printrbot Simple Metal printer. I also wanted to keep my 3D printer from getting dust build up on it. I've read that dust can get in the hot end and cause clogs.

I started with a wooden platform made out thin hardboard on top of MDF. Then I built the upper part of the enclosure out of plexiglass and aluminum channel. I purchased the plexi and aluminum channel from Lowes. The aluminum channel is 1/16" x 3/4" x 3/4". I bolted the whole thing together with #8-32 screws. The build chamber dimensions are 15"H x 20"W x 22"D.

I 3D printed some screw down feet for my Printrbot so it doesn't move around inside the cabinet. You can download the design for the feet here:

The whole front of the enclosure is a hinged door. Magnetic door catches keep the door closed.

The top of the cabinet is also hinged and can be opened. 

My Printrbot has a heated print bed so it uses an ATX power supply from a computer. It has a bunch of extra wires that aren't used by the printer so I made a hollow area underneath to hide all the extra wires.

The power supply is mounted in the corner so it takes in and vents air outside of the enclosure so it doesn't overheat.

I made a spool holder out of a 6" Lazy Susan bearing and a piece of plywood. I put a 3/8" carriage bolt in the center of the spool holder turnable which is used to secure the filament spool to the holder. I used some #6-32 stand-offs and #6-32 screws with the heads cutoff to allow the turntable to sit an inch above the lid so it can rotate. This also allows the turntable to be lifted off when the top lid needs to be opened.

Then I designed a knob and cone that secures the filament spool to the turntable. You can download the design here:

Here is a more detailed shot showing the path of the filament into the cabinet. I drilled a .25" hole in the top panel.

Next I added LED light strips around the top of the cabinet to light up the inside. The strips are power by +12vdc so I was able to hook them up to the Printrbot ATX power supply. The lights turn on when the printer is powered up.

Here is the printer in action inside the cabinet:

There one thing I'm still working on. I put an exhaust fan in the upper right corner of the back wall of the cabinet. I don't want the cabinet to get too hot inside but I also don't want the fan to run all the time or run at full speed so I'm designing a small circuit that controls the fan speed based on the temperature inside the cabinet.

UPDATE 2015-08-18

I mounted my OctoPrint print server running on a Raspberry Pi to the side of the cabinet. I also added a 20x4 character LCD display that shows useful info about the printer.


  1. Great work! I really like it! So much so in fact, I'm actually in the process of making one just like it for my Printrbot. How often do you find yourself using the hinged top to get access to the printer? If you can recall, how expensive was the plexi? Where does the filament feed into the enclosure? Anything you'd have done differently in hindsight? Thanks and again, great work!

    1. Thanks! It really helps the heated build plate warm up quickly, maintain it's temperature and I can get warmer temperatures out of it. It also helps keep dust off of the machine. I don't use the hinged top very often. You could probably make it a fixed panel. The filament feeds in a hole I drilled in the top panel. Sorry I don't remember how much the plexi cost. I'll see if I can figure out how much I spent on it.

  2. Matt - Thanks for posting this, looks great! Which LED strips did you use to connect with the ATX?

    1. I used Supernight 12 volt strips.

    2. Thanks, Matt. Are you running the Octopi through the ATX as well?

    3. I am powering the Octopi through the ATX power supply. I'm using the +5VSB wire which supplies a constant +5v even if the power supply is off. I run the power from the ATX supply to the 5v pin on the Raspberry Pi header. I should add a little more detail about that to the post.

    4. Do you have the Pi set to switch the atx power supply on and off? You can connect the gpio of the Pi to the signal wire on the psu through a transistor and add a button to the OctoPi web interface. With that, you can power up the printer right from there. Super easy and rewarding!

    5. Glad to know that's working for you. I know there have been questions about running it from the PSU on the Printrbot forums, but few if any responses. Adding some detail about it to your post would be a huge value add. Might as well take advantage of the full power supply. Thanks again!

    6. Brandon - Yep I already have that on my to-do list! Right now I'm just using a simple toggle switch.

      Devin - I'll work on adding that info to this post.

  3. nice! very clean work.
    great way to make use of the atx power supply.
    You should paint the platform to match the rest of the niceness ;)

    Brandon - that is a great tip.


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