Prototype 8.5 liter sandwich case with extra wide GPU cupport (2.7 slots)

Windfall

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I finally got the Strix R9 390X in the mail, one big chungus of a card (still 2 slot though) and havea good idea of the size now. 30cm from end to end not including the PCIe bracket, and while it's 38mm from the top of the bracket to the top of the card shroud, there is one heatpipe sticking out further to 44mm.

Gonna keep making further tweaks to the design until I can get it right and still not too difficult to print. I may have to increase the case height by a few mm but I'm trying not to.

 

CC Ricers

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Guess my reaction to this graphics card can be summed up with "not surprised but a bit disappointed". As I had to widen the gap between the top and bottom of the case so the card has to fit just right, I still had to increase the height of the case by 4mm. The real test is in seeing if the back panel can hold up to the card's weight. It's at 11mm thick which also eliminates the need to have a protruding tab for the case, but we shall see. The back panel and motherboard tray are the parts that are closest to completion.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Big update, the first pieces are assembled. Still a work in progress!





I only have 3/6 pieces made and the other ones need a bit of tweaking after seeing how these parts fit. More to come soon, like next week.
 
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Windfall

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Big update, the first pieces are assembled. Still a work in progress!

Click on the picture to see more pictures. I cannot see the arrows to scroll through pictures in this embed.

I only have 3/6 pieces made and the other ones need a bit of tweaking after seeing how these parts fit. More to come soon, like next week.

Very nice!
 

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I'm doing some more testing on the strength and rigidity of the parts. This is with just the motherboard and Scythe Kozuti installed. Compared to the rounded case design, the 25cm Liheat riser cable has more slack, so at least installation of oversized cards will be a bit easier because of it.

The riser is freely hanging without support. The production version of the case will have two slots to allow the riser to freely slide vertically with about 1cm of movement.



Next is a view of the top of the case tray. Instead of a continuous "spine" piece from front to back, it stops at the motherboard tray, and supports for PSU mounting will be added later. But it shows how rigid the frame pieces are even with only half the case assembled. Note that the PCIe riser cable is tucked between the tray/spine and motherboard instead of over the spine. This is done because GPUs with backplates will sit flush against the other side of the tray. Running the cable this way won't interfere with the GPU.



The motherboard tray has two tabs in the rear that will friction fit inside the back I/O piece. This allows some additional slack to install big cards by making the top end move away, but with the top piece attached, it will all hold in place.

Next up, I'm buying some screws and accessory parts to help round out the look of the case. Black countersunk hex screws to replace the silver ones, and case feet. I bought the following rubber feet which will raise the case by 10mm so a bottom fan gets enough intake air. I actually don't know how big the holes for the feet are (I sized the case holes for M3) but if they are larger I will enlarge the case holes with a drill.

 
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CC Ricers

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The remaining parts to build the case frame are being printed right now. In the meantime I am also revising the design to make the panels more modular. Corners are chamfered for emphasize an angled look. This means that the case will need more panels (two more for top and bottom) but it reduces the cost of printing.



The following image shows where case fans can be installed. Top fan is limited to 14mm thickness if the GPU height allows for room, and the bottom space has room for a 25mm thick fan, or a 92mm AIO radiator with a slim fan.

 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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I now have the case parts for the non-open air design (aside from the PSU bracket) and the fit was very tight, I had to file down some of the edges to get the pieces to fit.

With that said, I am abandoning the 3D printing approach because I am not satisfied with the finish of the parts, but I have learned a lot from it. I have a good idea on how to translate this design into CNC/laser cut parts while retaining the overall style.

The next prototype will be made out of 6061 raw laser cut aluminum. I plan to have pieces cut from 3mm and 5mm thick sheets. The spine, top and bottom will be the thicker pieces having most of the load bearing structure. The front and back panels will be the thinner 3mm pieces, held together with a t-slot nut design with the thicker pieces (see this example). Screws will be M4 sized and motherboard standoffs will use the standard 6-32 thread.

I will make this sheet metal design in Fusion and then will post renders when I have most of it done.
 
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BaK

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With that said, I am abandoning the 3D printing approach because I am not satisfied with the finish of the parts
Did you try asking @Matt3D some tips on how to print high quality parts?
His modivio.com website says 'It's manufactured using high-strength ABS / ASA material' ' 3D printed bezel has a brushed aluminum like surface which creates a stunning combination with satined side panels', and I indeed find the bezel very nice:


I don't know if some post treatment are applied to it though...
 
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Did you try asking @Matt3D some tips on how to print high quality parts?
His modivio.com website says 'It's manufactured using high-strength ABS / ASA material' ' 3D printed bezel has a brushed aluminum like surface which creates a stunning combination with satined side panels', and I indeed find the bezel very nice:


I don't know if some post treatment are applied to it though...

My last prints are also ABS which adds strength but there's also the way that you orient the pieces and set up your machine to produce that finish. I also have to source out the printing since I don't own a 3D printer myself.

In my first case, the design was a lot like Modivio's being a rounded rectangle (while also evoking the Dan case with the sandwich design). The bezel was made out of two parts that are like halves of a unishell body so emphasizing the brushed texture was easier with that.

Here is a 7 liter version of the rounded case design that highlights the two parts.



The more recent design has the parts arranged differently. The edges are more angular, and it is made of several flat pieces that are also printed flat so the layer lines do not show up along the front and top anymore. WIthout some post processing (sanding and acetone treatment) the pieces would have a rather rough appearance, even if they did assemble well.

Right now I have more disposable income to look into metal fabrication for a prototype and at least knock out one case or two.

I'm actually still fond of the rounded case style and have most of it basically finished, but meeting a good price for point for it is the tricky part, when you consider the scalability (or lack thereof) with 3D printing and additional pieces like riser, screws, etc. But at least then I would be able to compare and experiment with other production ideas more freely.
 
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BaK

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The more recent design has the parts arranged differently. The edges are more angular, and it is made of several flat pieces that are also printed flat so the layer lines do not show up along the front and top anymore. WIthout some post processing (sanding and acetone treatment) the pieces would have a rather rough appearance, even if they did assemble well.

Right now I have more disposable income to look into metal fabrication for a prototype and at least knock out one case or two.

I'm actually still fond of the rounded case style and have most of it basically finished, but meeting a good price for point for it is the tricky part, when you consider the scalability (or lack thereof) with 3D printing and additional pieces like riser, screws, etc. But at least then I would be able to compare and experiment with other production ideas more freely.
Thanx for the detailed explanation, makes sense!
 

CC Ricers

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So, this hasn't gone anywhere far (obviously), but more so about my personal needs. I have been using a mini ITX sized GPU for a while but now recently gone back to using a full-size one.

However, is there much of a market for plastic/3D printed SFF cases versus metal cases? I know there's Lazer3D but that's now a well known boutique brand where as I have to start from scratch. I still quite like the angled design of the case especially in the last version, but if I were to go to using sheet metal, it will possibly lose a lot of the angled look.

OR.. make a 3D printed+plastic case as a prototype towards an all-metal production case. Decisions, decisions!
 

Arboreal

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As far as I know, it's Lazer3D and Parvum in UK who are the biggest makers of acrylic panelled cases.
Looks good, I'm still keen on metal over plastic, but can see its benefits.
Now wondering if a sub 15L mATX case is what I need next
 
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CC Ricers

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As far as I know, it's Lazer3D and Parvum in UK who are the biggest makers of acrylic panelled cases.
Looks good, I'm still keen on metal over plastic, but can see its benefits.
Now wondering if a sub 15L mATX case is what I need next
I could go with a metal case (and probably will) but need to go with a design language that makes it better from a manufacturing standpoint.

If you're thinking about my sub 15L mATX case design, this sandwich case will probably share similar looks to that. Clean front panel and with fewer visible side screws. In fact I'm working on something like that now.
 
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CC Ricers

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I figure I can now give you all a sneak peek at where this design is now headed. Still a sandwich case, still primarily made for air cooling, but instead of CNC it will be sheet metal.



Official specs are still not finalized and will come later.
 

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I added several new renders to the first post. It shows the entire case exterior with all panels attached, plus it should give a scale of the overall case. This one is more forward thinking with room for 2.7 slot cards so that it could fit many of the higher-end graphics cards coming out recently.




The front panel has no visible screws from the outside. It is thicker than the other panels to accommodate a fastener system which is still not yet decided, but I could go with either standoffs, or clip-on stud fasteners.

 
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Here's a mockup of how the case will look like with parts inside. The case supports 48mm CPU coolers which is the bare minimum you could take with sandwich cases and SFX power supplies. The extra space is in the GPU chamber to support cards up to 55mm wide or 2.7 slots, enough for plenty of the fastest GPUs out there right now!

These are the specs of the case:
  • Dimensions: 330mm x 126mm x 204mm (L x W x H)
  • Volume: 8.48 L
  • Motherboard: mini-ITX
  • CPU cooler: 48mm max height, or AIO cooler up to 92mm x 35mm radiator (with SFX power supply)
  • GPU: 2.7 slot (55mm wide) up to 320mm length
  • Power supply: SFX or SFX-L
  • Additional cooling: 92mm bottom fan, 120mm fan w/radiator (with GPUs shorter than 190mm)
  • Storage: 3x 2.5 inch SSD/HDD
  • Material: 2mm 5052 aluminum (5mm for front panel)


 
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Following up with this, I'm almost ready to start production for a prototype. First is the most important piece, the spine. Being able to test-fit parts on this first will yield better results for all the other pieces of the case.
 
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