Prototype Mini ITX APU Case - Sub 3.0L - Billet Aluminium

One Works

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One Works
Oct 3, 2019
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Progress from today, this is as far as I could get as I need a tool holder to reach the stand offs while clearing the side walls. Hoping to track one down locally tomorrow so I can keep going. Finish isn't the best on the walls as I didn't want to spend a small fortune getting the right tool for the job, so made do with what I had on hand. The bead blasting will even it out nicely anyway.

 

robbee

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Sep 24, 2016
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Looking good! Awesome to have such tools at your disposal. General question about CNCing projects like this: what happens to the 90% of the material that gets removed? Is it lost or is there a way to recover some of it?
 

DaaDaa

Cable Smoosher
Oct 20, 2020
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I love this concept and ill be watching this thread. while the prototype is machined, im assuming that the plan is to have the finilized design or product CNC'ed right?
 

Alloy Craft

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 25, 2019
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Nice! Excellent surface finish considering the tool radius you had to use to get the corners as small as they are. This is simillar to a Nuc case I designed awhile back. I machined the top and bottom and made the sides form sheet metal.

 

One Works

Trash Compacter
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One Works
Oct 3, 2019
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Looking good! Awesome to have such tools at your disposal. General question about CNCing projects like this: what happens to the 90% of the material that gets removed? Is it lost or is there a way to recover some of it?

It's great to have such a toy to play with. But I spend most of my time working to make money to pay for it. Doesn't leave a lot of time for fun projects like this unfortunately.

Probably 95-100% of the material that gets removed is recycled. Sometimes lose a bit that gets mixed in with other material when changing between and can't be recycled. Still a bit loss financially though, in NZD Aluminium plate costs $13-18/kg in the quantities I buy it in. Scrap value for the chips/swarf is about $0.60/kg.

This started out life as a 9.85kg block, and will ultimately end up as a 0.96kg part.

I love this concept and ill be watching this thread. while the prototype is machined, im assuming that the plan is to have the finilized design or product CNC'ed right?

Thanks. The prototype is CNC machined from a solid block. Mainly doing that because I can. There's actually little point in having it machined from a solid piece as you can't see where the join line would actually be if there were one anyway. I've got another block of aluminium for a 2nd prototype to test a design which would use a big extrusion for the main housing instead and ultimately look about the same. If I were to produce that, I'd need some decent interest though, as I'd have to get a die cut for the extrusion and purchase a minimum of 150kg of metal off it.

Nice! Excellent surface finish considering the tool radius you had to use to get the corners as small as they are. This is simillar to a Nuc case I designed awhile back. I machined the top and bottom and made the sides form sheet metal.



Thank you. Yeah, fairly pleased with the finish considering the tool that I used, and like I said, it'll all get smoothed out with the bead blasting anyway. Actually looking into vapour blasting for the finish at the moment.

That's a real nice case you've come up with there, do you have a build thread for it? As mentioned above, I'm looking at doing something similar to what I've done using extrusion to bring the cost down.
 
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One Works

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Oct 3, 2019
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Update from today so far... got some teeny tiny collets. Though, not the smallest they had.



They go with the teeny tiny toolholder



Here it is with it's big brothers. 2nd from the left is the tool I used to remove the bulk of the material from the block. It's had a couple of oops moments.



Plenty of clearance...



And that's a complete drilled and tapped hole. Used a roll forming tap for a stronger thread, and so I didn't have to worry about chip evacuation.

 

Alloy Craft

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 25, 2019
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No build thread on the nuc box, I built it before I knew SFF network existed. The Intel Nuc stock case is an extrusion with a top and bottom panel like you are talking about. Custom extrusion dies are $$$, so keep that in mind. For low volume, machining works better imo.
 

One Works

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One Works
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No build thread on the nuc box, I built it before I knew SFF network existed. The Intel Nuc stock case is an extrusion with a top and bottom panel like you are talking about. Custom extrusion dies are $$$, so keep that in mind. For low volume, machining works better imo.

That's a shame. Yeah for sure, in low volume machining is definitely better. If you buy enough metal you can normally get the die for free. I came from the aluminium joinery industry before I got into engineering full time. So I have some contacts in the extrusion world.
 

One Works

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I've done some more work... and I don't like it.






Had trouble making the top panel. The large extruded flat bar I got to use for the task wasn't exactly flat. Also had a heap of internal stress, so moved about as I machined it. Not sure what I'll do with it at this stage, likely scrap it. In any case, I'm not fond of the design with the large vent holes. Inspired by the new cards from Nvidia I've been playing with other designs and am thinking I might give this one a go to see how it looks. Looks good on screen, but so did the design above. Also means a redesign of a couple of other aspects of the case, and probably scrapping the main case that I have machined so far ?

 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
REVOCCASES
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Apr 2, 2020
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I've done some more work... and I don't like it.






Had trouble making the top panel. The large extruded flat bar I got to use for the task wasn't exactly flat. Also had a heap of internal stress, so moved about as I machined it. Not sure what I'll do with it at this stage, likely scrap it. In any case, I'm not fond of the design with the large vent holes. Inspired by the new cards from Nvidia I've been playing with other designs and am thinking I might give this one a go to see how it looks. Looks good on screen, but so did the design above. Also means a redesign of a couple of other aspects of the case, and probably scrapping the main case that I have machined so far ?


The Nvidia style looks pretty cool. If you are at it and want to machine another case anyways, maybe you could still try to put one of those tiny gtx1650 cards inside:

 

Alloy Craft

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 25, 2019
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On the top panel with the large holes if you dont like it, you might try staggering them? Also might try chamfering the holes, to give it some more pop. Or you could chamfer the holes after anodize to give it some contrast? Or maybe try hexagon pattern instead? Also the mesh would look much better when the top panel was anodized or painted black as well. I wouldn't throw it away just jet.
 

One Works

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One Works
Oct 3, 2019
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The Nvidia style looks pretty cool. If you are at it and want to machine another case anyways, maybe you could still try to put one of those tiny gtx1650 cards inside:


Wow, that's a cool little card. Didn't know about that one. May look into making a case to suit something like that down the line.

On the top panel with the large holes if you dont like it, you might try staggering them? Also might try chamfering the holes, to give it some more pop. Or you could chamfer the holes after anodize to give it some contrast? Or maybe try hexagon pattern instead? Also the mesh would look much better when the top panel was anodized or painted black as well. I wouldn't throw it away just jet.

I looked into staggering the holes earlier in the design process and preferred the option of them in line. I may look into reworking the hole design later to see if I can come up with something that I like. But for now I've machined up the design from my last post to give it a go and quite like it
 

One Works

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One Works
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Update time. I've gone ahead and machined up a new top panel based on the new design from the last post. Unfortunately I'm not sure I can make it work properly with the current case, but wanted to machine it to see if I liked it in real life vs an image on the computer.

1st operation was decking off the top and machining out the fin pattern.


Next task while I had the chunk of metal for superglue fixturing in the vise was to make part of the fixture for the final operation.


Onto the fixture for the 2nd operation to support the fins while machining.


After the 2nd operation. Outside of the panel finished.


Fixture clamp that was made earlier in place.


After the final operation.


And finally, the finished panel in place.
 

One Works

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One Works
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Thanks for the comments guys! The positive feedback is always motivating.
 

One Works

Trash Compacter
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One Works
Oct 3, 2019
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So, I've finally managed to get a break from the real work, aka the work that pays the bills. Time for an update then.

Slap it in the vise upside down to take off the bottom.


After removing the bulk of the material, I realised I was right, there was no longer enough material to support the part when doing a finishing pass. So I used the superglue and tape method to attach an offcut of 20mm plate to the inside.


Back in the machine and finishing pass complete.


First step for the rear is to drill and counterbore the case as well as tap the top panel. This allows me to put a couple of cap screws in to give the back of the case a bit more support from the top panel while machining the rear I/O.


Rear I/O all cut out. Couldn't blow the coolant off for the photo as there was a pool of it inside that was going to go everywhere (But mainly all over me) if I tried.


Another shot of the rear after machining.


Tried to tape up the inside and plug one of the threaded holes before bead blasting. Mainly to try and preserve the machined inside finish. Gave up a bit and had some over spray. But you can still tell it's a machined part which is what I was going for.


Last but not least, I got the DSLR to take a couple of nicer shots of it after bead blasting. Images are a bit noisy, the Canon 500D is showing it's age vs the new gear, looks a lot better on Instagram ?



So, now that the machining on this is done, it's time to test fit hardware to make sure all the critical dimensions are right. Then onto designing V2.