The Enclosure

A 3D printer enclosure perfect for a Prusa i3 MK3S made of powder coated sheet-metal and has a safety glass door.

Even before I received my 3D printer, I was looking for an appropriate enclosure. I did that for two reasons: One being that filaments other than PLA tend to warp outside the stable temperature environment an enclosure provides, and two being that I wanted to reduce the toxic emissions and noise of the printer.

There are a few common options, though none of them really convinced me. One of the most recommended options is the Ikea LACK enclosure, developed by Prusa itself. While certainly enticing, what I didn’t like about it was the fact that it’s practically made out of paper maché. As affordable as Ikea furniture is, it’s also not very durable.

Other alternatives are usually little more than boxes made of acrylic or little plastic tents that are sold for outrageous prices.

Then I stumbled over this article by Daniel Schweinert. Here’s what he has to say:

I’ve found the perfect enclosure for my Prusa i3 MK3 3D printer (no modification needed!). It’s a cheap server wall mount cabinet for only 79,- EUR. You can find it on ebay or in different computer online shops. It has 4 mm safety glass and powder coated sheet metal walls. The roof and bottom have cable entries and the roof is also prepared for mounting 2 x single fans. That may come in handy if you want to build a fume exhaust for ABS printing.

IMG 20200905 121707 - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure

He’s pretty much spot on. Using 19″ racks as enclosures still seem to be under the radar of most 3D printing enthusiasts. Brand-new ones can be found as cheaply as 80€, whereas used ones can be picked up cheaply from offices that don’t want to deal with the disassembly themselves.

I would recommend against getting the 15U tall enclosure, and instead opt for the 12U enclosure (Unless you want to go for the MMU upgrade). This way the filament spool can be mounted outside the enclosure. This allows the use of air-sealed filament containers on top of the enclosure. Otherwise, its size is perfect for a Prusa i3 MK3S, and similar sized 3D printers.

In a ~24 °C room I printed without problems both PETG and PLA. The temperature in the enclosure was about +10 °C above room temperature. This could be further increased with improved sealing of the enclosure.

I’ve placed my enclosure on top of large tool drawers, but you can place it anywhere with a sturdy surface. If you still want to have some LACK in your project, a LACK table would work perfectly well.

BOM

MaterialCommentBuy at
Server EnclosureTitle: 19“ 12U Wall Housing Basic, Depth 600 mm, 1-Part, Flat Pack, RAL7035
Manufacturer: EFB-Elektronik
Art. No.: WGB-1912GR.60
If you want to sue a different enclosure, make sure it’s at least 600mm deep and at least 12U high. 15U if you want to use the spool holder on the Prusa or use the MMU upgrade.
Reichelt (de)
Amazon.de
Conrad:
(at), (be), (cz), (dk), (de), (fr), (hr), (it), (hu), (nl), (pl), (si), (sk), (se)
Smoke DetectorIn case of an overheating or fire event. Any cheap detector should do.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
RGB LED Strip, 5mThere’s a few different options out there. I went with one that has an additional on/off plug with integrated IR sensor that I could glue to the side of the rack.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Cable ConduitSides: 15x15mm
Back left and right: 40 x 35mm
Back top and bottom: 30 x 30mm
Hardware Store
Smoke Detector Mount PadTo stick the smoke detector to the ceiling of the case. Alternatively, I used two neodym magnets and superglued them to the factory mounting pad.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
PC4-M6 tube fittingIn my version of the rack I’m feeding the filament into the enclosure through a separate PTFE tube that runs directly to the filament storage. For this you either want a flange on the ceiling or a fitting on the extruder itself. I went with the latter.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
PTFE tubing, 2mSee above.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Banggood
BOM

Some of these are affiliate links. I don’t get much traffic, so every bit helps if you buy something through them!

Useful Tools

Tool/MaterialCommentBuy at
Power DrillIf you want to drill extra holes into the enclosure, you may want to use a power drill together with a step drill bit.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Step drill bit setNeeded if you want to drill a (large) hole into the metal enclosure.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Deburring ToolWhen cutting the cable trays or other parts, it is recommended to remove the rough edges with a deburring tool.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Sandpaper SpongeAs above, but sandpaper is a valid alternative.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Pop Rivet GunUseful when wanting to fasten something to the metal enclosure.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Tools

Optional

MaterialCommentBuy at
Concrete Tile, 40 x 40 cmReduces sound and vibrations. Any regular concrete tile will do. The heavier the better!Hardware Store
Foam, 40 x 40 x 5 cmFoam block, ideally same size as the concrete block to decouple it. Hardware stores usually carry them for refurbishing furniture.Amazon.de
Amazon.com
Optional

Overall the entire enclosure cost me about 100€, including shipping. A bargain, considering you get an actual metal enclosure with safety glass!

If you can, try to buy an RGB LED strip that has a plug that can be removed from the power supply / controller. I had to cut mine and solder it back together, so I could fit it through the small hole I had drilled into the side.

IMG 20200902 184830 scaled e1610903508952 - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure
Concrete slab on top of furniture foam

I used a combination of a concrete tile and a piece of foam to reduce the overall noise and stabilize the case through the extra weight. The tile absorbs energy, while the foam decouples the printer from the case. This reduces the noise drastically, and I can sleep in the same room as the printer while printing. Any concrete tile should do, just get one from a local hardware store. The heavier, the better! The piece of foam I got at the same hardware store, normally meant to be used for furniture construction/repair. Both are 40x40cm, and thus a perfect fit.

The Build

Assemble the case

First, build the case according to the manual. It’s fairly straight forward. Keep in mind that since the case is meant to be wall mounted, it’s not very sturdy without support and can easily be bent out of shape. This is not a big problem, you’ll just notice that the door won’t fit properly until you finally placed the enclosure in its final resting place. In my case it rests against two walls, and is thus sturdy enough. Adding a few 90° brackets may help if you want to make the case more sturdy.

IMG 20200902 184836 - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure
The assembled case needs a solid surface or needs to be wall-mounted.

I’ve placed my enclosure on top of large tool drawers, but you can place it anywhere with a sturdy surface. If you still want to have some LACK in your project, a LACK table would work perfectly well.

The case will be a lot more sturdy if you use the concrete slab dampener, as it will add extra weight to the enclosure.

Install the cable conduit

To Cut the cable conduit to length, you need two of the wider pieces on the back, and 1-4 of the thinner ones to mount in the 4 corners of the enclosure, to get the RGB LED cabling to the front. I opted to use 2 to keep things symmetrical. I recommend cleaning up the cuts with either a deburring tool, a sharp knife or some sanding paper.

There are two mounted nuts on each side in which the side panels are mounted. Drill one hole for each nut into the cable conduit. This securely attaches them to the case (keep the hole slightly smaller to press-fit them in), while also making the whole thing a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Drill a hole into one of the larger cable conduits in the back, to allow for the LED power cable to get to the strip. I used a

PXL 20210125 144249705 - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure
Since I can’t use the top or bottom cable access, I had to drill a separate hole

I used pop rivets to attach the rear cable conduits to the holes of the rear panel. This is probably overkill, but I had the tools at hand. You can probably get away with simply gluing them in.

Install the LED strip

My LED strip came with an infrared remote, so I mounted the receiver to the side of the case. I then drilled a hole into the side, to get both the LED and the power cable for the 3D printer in. Note: If you place the enclosure somewhere that allows you the use of the cable chute of the cabinet, you can skip this step.

Glue the LED strip all around the small recess of the back panel. Then comes the tricky part (or maybe I’m just dumb and missed an alternative method). I cut the RGB ribbon and soldered 4 cables (RGB + GND) to it. I then twisted the cables to make one pseudo 4-core-cable and used it in one of the cable conduits to get to the front of the enclosure. There I soldered them to the remaining LED strip.

There you do the same – install the RGB strip all around the recess in the front. This will allow for some very pretty indirect lighting.

PXL 20201023 160334871 edited - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure
LED IR Receiver and Switch

Install the smoke alarm

If you choose to install a fire alarm (which I recommend), I suggest simply gluing two neodymium magnets to it and attaching the fire alarm directly above the printer.

PXL 20201023 183642731 - Ideal server rack 3D Printer Enclosure
Smoke-Alarm with glued on neodym magnets

Feeding filament into the enclosure

To get things started, I fed the filament simply through one of the fan mount screw holes. Eventually I fed the printer with some PTFE tubing straight from my filament storage container. Mid-Term I recommend drilling an extra hole, make sure to deburr it. Long-term I’m thinking of installing a PTFE coupler into the ceiling to make filament changes easier.

Conclusion

Completed Enclosure!

So far I’m very happy with the enclosure and can recommend it. I’ll continue to update this article (or write a new one) if I make any more modifications. I am thinking about moving the PSU out of the enclosure, to reduce its exposure to heat.

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