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Prototyping SC3-STX: 3.5L - Internal PSU - 1080ti Mini support

Damascus

Master of Cramming
Silver Supporter
Feb 27, 2018
498
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DSE on sliger:
uhh, my design decision to make the case modular had no bearing on my choice of Sliger over Protocase. That decision was actually made pretty early on when James pointed me in Sliger's direction. And that decision was made purely on the basis of cost and equipment—which pretty much also determines the cost.

You see, when I sent the most recent modular design to Sliger and Protocase for quoting, Protocase wanted something around $800 just to make one case (and that was after negotiation), while Sliger told me they could make two cases, maybe even three, for $500; take into consideration the progressive unit pricing discount of ordering in volume, and that's where we arrive at me being able to price the case at $150 today, of which I am very proud of.

This massive price disparity between the two manufacturers is largely due to equipment. Sliger has a combo CNC punch+laser while Protocase only has a laser (and some other machines too, just no CNC punch) to cut through sheet metal. Sliger's CNC punch+laser can punch and cut out repeated patterns, like the staggered slots all around my case, very very quickly. The laser only engages to cut paths and shapes that the punch tooling cannot. Protocase's laser, in comparison to a punch, moves relatively slowly, cutting and going along the dozens of meters of path length in order to cut out all the shapes in the flat pattern of the case, while also using more energy during all that time.

When you're getting something manufactured like this, it's not so much the material you're paying for, it's the time.

It was nice to be able to have the case production quality of both Sliger and Protocase as known quantities through James' various cases and Linus' (LinusTechTips) projects, so I had confidence in ordering from either of them. It all just came down to price. I didn't get my cases from Protocase, but what I did get from them was a whole lot of advice and knowledge about what can and cannot be done with sheet metal - and that is something I am very thankful for.

And that brings me to your second question.

To submit my design and get a quote from Sliger, I had to email Kahlin himself. He usually responded back the same day or the day after. Although there was a time where weeks went by before I got another response. This was because Sliger also has other orders to fulfill that may require much of their resources. It was completely understandable though. I know that I'm a low priority when they're dealing with companies and organizations that are much bigger and more important than me. To offset this delay, Kahlin suggested that I make the engineering drawings myself, as that would speed up the process greatly. I didn't have a problem doing that, so I did.

To submit my design and get a quote from Protocase, all I had to do was upload the 3D model of my case to the quoting page on their site and within a day or so, I was assigned a person who would take care of me and my project. They responded quickly, always emailing me back the same day or the next, happy to answer any dumb questions I may have had or talk to their engineers to let me know if there were any errors in my design. Very handhold-y, which is nice. But you know, as I said before, once Protocase quoted me their price, I knew I was going to go with Sliger instead. So to avoid wasting Kahlin's time, what I did was basically pinball between the two. I would email Protocase, asking stuff like what would be more cost effective, etc., then I would take that advice and make changes to my design and then prepare a new set of engineering drawings to send to Kahlin.

People should go to Protocase if they need more help in designing their case or need a case made super quick. People should go to Sliger if they're more experienced and are okay with waiting longer at the benefit of saving a whole lot of money.

I went with Sliger and had to wait a while, but in the end, I couldn't be happier. The wait was well worth it. Unboxing and seeing those parts exactly how I designed them is something, a feeling that is indescribable. It's like seeing your child be born - not that I know what that's like (I'm only 19), but that's how I imagine it to be.

Hopefully this short essay answers your questions.
Take a look at the DSE breathe thread for an interesting look at the entire process of designing and manufacturing cases with community feedback. The PC design foundry guys seem very fast, so you may be better off with them if this is a purely personal project
 
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Sean Crees

Airflow Optimizer
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
310
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DSE on sliger:

Take a look at the DSE breathe thread for an interesting look at the entire process of designing and manufacturing cases with community feedback. The PC design foundry guys seem very fast, so you may be better off with them if this is a purely personal project
Yea i've had the exact same experience with Protocase. Very friendly, and always available to talk to pretty much 24/7 on any and all dumb questions i have.

I think the big difference with my design is i knew going in that each and every little vent hole would increase cost exponentially. Looking at the breathe, he has A LOT of vent holes. I went with a different approach, and fingers crossed it helps keep the production cost low. I have just 6 large cutouts for ventilation , and this could even be reduced down to 4 if need be. Then i was planning on 3d printing small "vent modules" that you can pop in and out of those cutouts.

This approach solves a few problems at once. I don't have to worry about the cost of cutting excessive lengths of sheet metal with lots of small vent holes, it allows for user customization for vent patterns as well as color options. Plus since it's 3d printed, it could be something end users do on their own without having to buy an extra part from me.

We'll see though, I have heard before that protocase is on the expensive side. I went out of my way to design this case in such a way that would reduce production costs as much as possible. I went with pemsert's in many locations instead of adding extra bends to the material, as well as eliminating the need to thread the sheet metal at all. I went with very few large vent cutouts instead of lots of small ones. I also made it a priority to reduce the total number of parts, and total number of different sheet metal material/thicknesses. I tried to keep everything the same, and designed simply. No fancy bends (all 90 degree), with no fancy radii on those bends.

From day 1 of designing this case, the cost to do something was always at the back of my head with every little change i made. Every time i had some sort of obstacle i was trying to figure out i would have a few different ways i could think of to resolve it, and i'd always ask myself "which one would be cheapest and easiest to manufacture". So i've made quite a few compromises to keep costs as low as possible.
 
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Damascus

Master of Cramming
Silver Supporter
Feb 27, 2018
498
339
Yea i've had the exact same experience with Protocase. Very friendly, and always available to talk to pretty much 24/7 on any and all dumb questions i have.

I think the big difference with my design is i knew going in that each and every little vent hole would increase cost exponentially. Looking at the breathe, he has A LOT of vent holes. I went with a different approach, and fingers crossed it helps keep the production cost low. I have just 6 large cutouts for ventilation , and this could even be reduced down to 4 if need be. Then i was planning on 3d printing small "vent modules" that you can pop in and out of those cutouts.

This approach solves a few problems at once. I don't have to worry about the cost of cutting excessive lengths of sheet metal with lots of small vent holes, it allows for user customization for vent patterns as well as color options. Plus since it's 3d printed, it could be something end users do on their own without having to buy an extra part from me.

We'll see though, I have heard before that protocase is on the expensive side. I went out of my way to design this case in such a way that would reduce production costs as much as possible. I went with pemsert's in many locations instead of adding extra bends to the material, as well as eliminating the need to thread the sheet metal at all. I went with very few large vent cutouts instead of lots of small ones. I also made it a priority to reduce the total number of parts, and total number of different sheet metal material/thicknesses. I tried to keep everything the same, and designed simply. No fancy bends (all 90 degree), with no fancy radii on those bends.

From day 1 of designing this case, the cost to do something was always at the back of my head with every little change i made. Every time i had some sort of obstacle i was trying to figure out i would have a few different ways i could think of to resolve it, and i'd always ask myself "which one would be cheapest and easiest to manufacture". So i've made quite a few compromises to keep costs as low as possible.
DSE had the "voroni" style case that was very similar to yours, I think the sliger estimated quote was $120, while proto was $500? Great way to save a significant chunk of money, as the costs for the hole punched version was something like $180/$800
 

Sean Crees

Airflow Optimizer
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
310
299
DSE had the "voroni" style case that was very similar to yours, I think the sliger estimated quote was $120, while proto was $500? Great way to save a significant chunk of money, as the costs for the hole punched version was something like $180/$800
Well i talked to Andrew through gmail, explained where i was coming from and what i was doing. He mentioned some of his tolerance limitations since he's working with a CNC machine instead of a laser cutter. So i whipped together a new model in Fusion360 based on his unique setup tolerances and emailed it to him a few min ago.

Now i'm just waiting to hear back from both Andrew and Protocase on Quotes.
 

Tazpr

Airflow Optimizer
Aug 7, 2018
282
185
Well i talked to Andrew through gmail, explained where i was coming from and what i was doing. He mentioned some of his tolerance limitations since he's working with a CNC machine instead of a laser cutter. So i whipped together a new model in Fusion360 based on his unique setup tolerances and emailed it to him a few min ago.

Now i'm just waiting to hear back from both Andrew and Protocase on Quotes.
Would be interested to see what he can do for you, he's a top bloke and very patient with me and my lack of product design knowledge XD
 
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Damascus

Master of Cramming
Silver Supporter
Feb 27, 2018
498
339
I love how many options we have for case manufacturing. Sliger, protocase, design foundry and whoever is making the velka line of cases. Not to mention the more large batch only kind of manufacturers
 

Sean Crees

Airflow Optimizer
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
310
299
I love how many options we have for case manufacturing. Sliger, protocase, design foundry and whoever is making the velka line of cases. Not to mention the more large batch only kind of manufacturers
Silverstonetek is probably my fav large scale manufacturer overall. They just always seem to innovate way more than anyone else. Plus they single handedly made SFX PSU's a mainstream thing. They get mad props from me for that alone. I don't always like every design they have, but i like that they are constantly putting themselves out there to try new things.
 

McTeags

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 18, 2017
117
130
Sweet design man. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the prototype if it ends up being affordable enough.

I personally don’t have any issues with the power button on the back of the unit. I have this with some of my audio equipment and it’s inconvenient at first but after a while you don’t notice. You have to reach a little farther... just think of it like doing one sit-up every time you have to turn on your PC. You’ll be buff in no time. Just make sure it’s easy to find without looking. Give it a tactile feel or make it a switch instead of a button.

I think having some access to the front IO would be important. Otherwise you’re limited to 2 USB ports on the back. One for mouse and one for keyboard. If you want to use any other accessories you’ll have to use a hub which will increase the overall footprint of the PC.

I’m interested to see how the 3D printed pop outs work. I’m a bit skeptical at the overall aesthetic of them but I’m sure it can work.

Good luck man!
 

Sean Crees

Airflow Optimizer
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
310
299
So protocase came back with a quote of $305 USD including shipping for just the internal frame with no finish. This is a lot lower than i was expecting, so i'm now asking them how much all the pieces would be with a black finish. The other components of the case are way simplier by design. 2 of them are just a flat piece with no bends and a handful of countersunk holes, and the last piece has 2x 90 degree bends with a handful of countersunk holes. I'm expecting them to not cost as much to produce as the frame, so hopefully i can get it all for under $500 shipped.
 
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