3 – 3D Printed Plastic Enclosure

To be honest: Planning, designing and printing the enclosure took some evenings. And then a few more… and nights…. and days and then evenings again.

I’ve never designed anything as complex as the Marta housing in CAD. The enclosure is not even that elaborate but the level of difficulty was perfect for me. All components had to fit inside the housing in a space consuming way. Actually, the design process influenced the choice of electronic components and vice versa.

When I started to build and use my 3D printer three years ago or so, OnShape was recommended to me. It is a purely browser-based CAD system free to use for private purposes. The only real limitation despite everything being saved in the cloud is that all free users are obliged to share their designs with other users, which is just fair, I guess. There are professional and educational licenses available, too. You may collaborate with others, use their mobile applications and much more. Definitely have a look at the website. It is a truly superb product supported by tons of free tutorial videos. I’ve only covered the most basic functionalities and yet I was able to design a nice looking product (well kinda).

As I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes I made in my early (private, student and unfortunately professional) software projects, the box was supposed to be designed in a clean way right from the start. Variables were declared, constraints defined, versions managed and so on. The more complex the creation became, the sloppier I was concerning my noble development goals. That didn’t surprise me too much because in my experience it takes a few bigger projects in a certain field (in this case 3D design) to build up the practical knowledge and tool set needed for an organized approach. One is only able to get to know and apply best practices after a few times meeting certain challenges. Having said that, those thoughts are probably just lame excuses for a certain laziness, maybe half-and-half.

In the end I’m really satisfied with the overall result. To get a better understanding of all the components and their purpose here’s three exploded views and a video showing all the parts, their order and how they fit in place.

Marta Musik Maschine - 3D Printed DIY Tonie Box - Assembly

After some printing and assembly the finished product could look like this.

When using 3D printers always be careful with the electronics. These devices draw some serious amount of power. My printer had strange issues after a few successful prints. It turned out that the power connection to the board was not chosen well by the no-name Chinese manufacturer. I always have a fire detector and camera near my 3D printer when leaving the room for a longer period of time. This issue could have caused a serious fire.