Custom side panels for sff cases

sffman

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jun 8, 2019
6
4
Has anyone made a custom side panel, expecially for the Dan A4? If so, which company did you use or did you make it yourself?

I'm thinking of making thicker copper side panels with a brushed finish for my Dan A4 silver case after seeing the copper panel that is available for the Ghost S1. What do you think? I'm going to make it 5mm thick since I really like having thicker metal on the exterior of chassis.

 

sffman

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jun 8, 2019
6
4
Just so you are aware of the scope of this


That's a good point, I think I underestimated the whole fabrication process. I'll probably simplify my design a bit and then submit for a quote to different companies out of curiosity. It'll probably be really expensive though.
 

Questors

Trash Compacter
Oct 28, 2018
37
13
Has anyone made a custom side panel, expecially for the Dan A4? If so, which company did you use or did you make it yourself?

I'm thinking of making thicker copper side panels with a brushed finish for my Dan A4 silver case after seeing the copper panel that is available for the Ghost S1. What do you think? I'm going to make it 5mm thick since I really like having thicker metal on the exterior of chassis.

An aftermarket/new/different panel for the Ghost S1?
 

sheepdog43

Caliper Novice
Feb 17, 2019
21
11
Just because Lian Li makes them this way, that doesn't mean that is the only way to make a panel, there are plenty of ways to make things.

My bigger concern is the idea of this being copper as opposed to just plated.
Before you do any more work on this idea, go look at material costs.
 
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tinyitx

King of Cable Management
Jan 25, 2018
816
741
5mm thick copper side panel weighs heavy too. My back-of-envelope calculation says about 2 kg. For comparison, the entire A4 case weighs about 1.25 kg.
 
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PalaSicka

Efficiency Noob
Jun 10, 2019
6
0
There are 2 options how you can do it + one simplified option.
  1. CNC it from 5cm thick metal - this is often used as the easiest option, but usually for smaller parts. Basically, all the excess material is drilled out and used again. From what I see, this would be the only option you would have here.

  2. CNC/cutting + Folding - You cut the metal, then use the press to fold the metal. This is usually used for large sheets of metal. Sometimes you need special parts for the folding machine - your case, which would be super expensive to use only on one side panel.
Last option is to simplify the panel to be flat or make it from separate parts. If you have the v4 DAN, it should be ready for flat side panels. I am currently preparing mine but I don't have the case in my hands yet, so I can't be more specific about the details.

 

sffman

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jun 8, 2019
6
4
I made the panel flat to help decrease costs and difficulty of fabrication, but I was still quoted $2500CAD for both side panels. I think the it's the ventilation holes that are making it expensive followed by the use of copper which is much pricier than aluminum. A different company quoted $450CAD per panel without holes. May just scrap the idea lol.
 

PalaSicka

Efficiency Noob
Jun 10, 2019
6
0
I made the panel flat to help decrease costs and difficulty of fabrication, but I was still quoted $2500CAD for both side panels. I think the it's the ventilation holes that are making it expensive followed by the use of copper which is much pricier than aluminum. A different company quoted $450CAD per panel without holes. May just scrap the idea lol.
You are always charged by the length of the cut + for the material itself. I wouldn't say a plate of copper is that expensive. This is what I've found for a sheet of 3mm copper 60x30 cm — £86.40 - So yeah, it is expensive but the cut usually does the most. Now the holes - if you make the holes similar to dan and they count it as a cut, it will cost you a leg of course. Let's say every hole is a cm, then 150 holes... both sides... But if they drill it, it doesn't need to be that expensive. The problem of drilling is that they have to set the driller for it :D Also for some cutting, you can use different methods and reduce the costs. This is what you can see in my plan above. The two holes are cut in the aluminum, the flower tho, that one is cut into acrylic glass and put inside the aluminum hole.

BTW this can be an interesting side for you to test different costs: https://www.ponoko.com/

Oh and I forgot, if you want the copper just as a visual, you can use copper finish acrylic. Or copper-aluminum composite panel.
 
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Curiosity

Case addict
Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2016
431
499
Maybe get the panel cut to shape, then do the holes yourself with a drill and a punch?
 

SFF EOL

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Dec 9, 2018
109
28
It would make a lot more sense to copper plate it. It isn’t terribly hard to do that yourself, but you need to have a very well-ventilated area to do it in and it takes time- it is generally wise not to leave it unattended as well, things can go explosively wrong. Also, that side panel is relatively large, and you are messing around with strong acids. I’ve done smaller parts no problem (for motorcycles but that makes no difference). I’ve done nickel as well, that sort of gives you a matt flat ‘chrome’- again with old motorcycles. Before chrome old (as in 1940s) motorcycles usually got nickel plated where we would later see chrome. I mention nickel because you copper plate the part then nickel plate it to get nickel plate.

Also, and I haven't done this, you can get very thin copper sheet- sort of like thick aluminium foil but copper. That can be bonded (glued) to another metal substrate. I've seen it done but never did it myself. In another life I worked as semi-skilled for a rather good engineering firm. What glue they used I don't know and I think it might not be up to all the handling (as in drilling holes and so on) unless the correct glue was used. The stuff Rowecord (for it was they) used was very expensive I remember that much. Then again everything they used seemed to cost crazy money.
 

sheepdog43

Caliper Novice
Feb 17, 2019
21
11
You could do this whole thing in your garage in a day or two for the cost of material with just some hand tools and elbow grease.

Get your hands dirty.
 

sffman

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jun 8, 2019
6
4
Maybe get the panel cut to shape, then do the holes yourself with a drill and a punch?
You could do this whole thing in your garage in a day or two for the cost of material with just some hand tools and elbow grease.

Get your hands dirty.

I may consider that. I would need to get the tools to cut and polish metal, but it's doable and copper that is at least 5mm thick is not hard to find. Free hand drilling while making a uniform hole pattern would be hard for sure, a drill press should be okay though.

It would make a lot more sense to copper plate it. It isn’t terribly hard to do that yourself, but you need to have a very well-ventilated area to do it in and it takes time- it is generally wise not to leave it unattended as well, things can go explosively wrong. Also, that side panel is relatively large, and you are messing around with strong acids. I’ve done smaller parts no problem (for motorcycles but that makes no difference). I’ve done nickel as well, that sort of gives you a matt flat ‘chrome’- again with old motorcycles. Before chrome old (as in 1940s) motorcycles usually got nickel plated where we would later see chrome. I mention nickel because you copper plate the part then nickel plate it to get nickel plate.

Also, and I haven't done this, you can get very thin copper sheet- sort of like thick aluminium foil but copper. That can be bonded (glued) to another metal substrate. I've seen it done but never did it myself. In another life I worked as semi-skilled for a rather good engineering firm. What glue they used I don't know and I think it might not be up to all the handling (as in drilling holes and so on) unless the correct glue was used. The stuff Rowecord (for it was they) used was very expensive I remember that much. Then again everything they used seemed to cost crazy money.

That would definitely cut down on costs. Something I was considering was anodizing aluminum with a copper-like colour, but that costs about $180. I probably wouldn't do copper plating myself, maybe there are companies that will offer that as an option.
 

sheepdog43

Caliper Novice
Feb 17, 2019
21
11
I may consider that. I would need to get the tools to cut and polish metal, but it's doable and copper that is at least 5mm thick is not hard to find. Free hand drilling while making a uniform hole pattern would be hard for sure, a drill press should be okay though.
Check for a community ran (non-profit) hackerspace/makerspace in your area (beware commercial/for profit ones), most have all of the equipment you need and the membership price could be less than even some of the cheaper hand tools you would need.
 
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SFF EOL

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Dec 9, 2018
109
28
I may consider that. I would need to get the tools to cut and polish metal, but it's doable and copper that is at least 5mm thick is not hard to find. Free hand drilling while making a uniform hole pattern would be hard for sure, a drill press should be okay though.




That would definitely cut down on costs. Something I was considering was anodizing aluminum with a copper-like colour, but that costs about $180. I probably wouldn't do copper plating myself, maybe there are companies that will offer that as an option.
Companies do, but for most of us they also have to stick to very expensive laws- this is only good and right. At home we can ignore all that- and we can I feel as long as we consider safety and aren't stupid. We will not be doing it as a business and so our environmental impact is much more marginal. You can recycle the acids with a plating company, they are OK having it if is what is supposed to be. Not saying you are wrong, just giving an alternative point of view.