Update: You can’t buy the scrubber filter required for this build. Instead, you can purchase complete enclosures directly from the manufacturer who originally made this filter.

This write-up is for anyone interested in making their own “clean” 3D printer enclosure for a Lulzbot TAZ5 (or similar).

Required Parts

1. ~$360 – 3Dprintclean scrubber filter (shipping cost incl.)
2. ~$180 – Large piece of clear acrylic laser cut from a dxf file (excl. shipping)
3. (~free?) – 3D print your own brackets downloaded from Thingiverse (I recommend using ABS) see image below.

Part Set 1 (original)

Part Set 2 (some upgraded parts)
4. $52.36 – Hardware from McMaster (shipping cost excl.)
– 2 packs of 100 Black-Oxide Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw
– 2 packs of 100 Black-Oxide Steel Serrated-Flange Locknut
– 2 packs of 100 Neoprene Sealing Washer
5. $? – Power Strip with a long cable

Cost Estimate

Total Cost: ~$592.36 + misc. shipping

Difficulty

I rate this as moderately difficult due to the size of the laser cut components. I assume that anyone reading this has general “maker” skills like: putting things together, plugging things in, modifying things to work on the fly when they don’t, and looking out for your own safety. I won’t cover any of that here.

Timing

This project took me a couple weeks. Most of that time was spent: picking and sourcing parts, modifying the enclosure design, and finding/negotiating with someone in my area to do the laser cutting. Hopefully it will go faster for you after reading this.

Depending on how quickly you can buy, build, and get the parts shipped to you; I estimate that this could be done within a week’s time. The final assembly took between 4 and 6 hours, during a workday, with a lunch break. There are A LOT of oily nuts and bolts. If you are unable to leave this in a half complete state, you might want to make sure you have enough time to finish what you start (generally a good rule anyway).

 

Basic Instructions

  1. Print the brackets
  2. Mount the brackets on the side panels
    • At this point you have to decide if you are going to assemble the enclosure around your printer. Alternatively, you can get someone to help you lift the completed enclosure and lower it down over your printer. I’ve done it both ways and either works fine. Assembling it on it’s own and lifting/lowering it may be better. If your hand slips with a nut or bolt you may not want them raining down on your printer.
  3. Mount the side panels to each other
  4. Mount the top panel
    • You also have the option of mounting the top once two sides of a corner are assembled. I found this to be easier because otherwise my arms could not reach the farthest corners of the enclosure.
  5. Carefully place your printer and accessories wherever they are supposed to go inside the enclosure
  6. With the help of a friend lift your enclosure up and over your printer and lower it down.
  7. Install the scrubber filter.

Detailed Notes for Detail Oriented-People

These are in no particular order. I recommend reading through this at least once so you know what you are getting into.

1. The edges that separate the doors from the walls are not as clean in reality as I hoped they would be on paper. I put considerable effort into keeping the cost down by specifically designing this for a single 4’x8’ sheet of acrylic. It cost less than $200 for materials AND cuts so I can live with a slight rub at the doors. I edited the .dxf file after the fact to increase the spacing so yours ought to come out better than mine. I certainly don’t think it will come out worse. If you are at all concerned, check with your laser cutting shop to see if they anticipate any problems. Alternatively, you can edit the dxf file yourself for additional clearance. Be careful with any edits because this might allow more of the toxic printing gases to escape. The cost of laser cutting will also increase since you will add cuts to improve the clearance. The cutting shop I used required a ¼” gap around the edges of the panel. As a result, the height of the enclosure is a half inch smaller than the original.

Speaking of the cutting shop, I used Grand Laser Works in Brooklyn which is driving distance from my apartment. I recommend finding a local shop for the laser cuts. I’ve never handled a 4’x8’ sheet of acrylic. I can’t imagine a big wobbly piece of plastic like that being fun to carry around or cheap to ship. If you go with a local shop, you can pick it up and save the shipping cost. I expect this would be substantial since we are talking about large panels that could total ~50lbs. Lastly, 4’x8’ is a standard size sheet and your local cutting shop probably carries it in house. This makes the whole process cheaper and faster.

2. Because of the above mentioned door clearance issues, I cleanly sheared the hinge pins off without much effort when I closed the door for the first time. It was so unexpected that I started laughing. If you want to avoid breaking your hinges on the first try, you should print the hinge pins with as close to 100% fill as you can tolerate. I can’t emphasize this enough. A high fill percentage will give them added strength for repeated use. None of the other parts move so you can easily get away with a normal fill setting (~20%?) if you are using ABS.

3. My version of the CAD file (again, optimized for a single 4’x8’ sheet) has two “ports” in the back. One is for a cable pass-through, the other was provided by the original designers for a 50mm fan/hose. Even though the fan port is not necessary with our re-circulating “clean” enclosure, you may want to leave it in place as a backup. It allows you to build everything WITHOUT the filter, put a vent hose on temporarily, and then remove it and add the filter when you get it. It’s just nice to have the option. It can also serve as a backup cable pass-through if the original hole doesn’t work (see more notes below). Again, you might want to look into some kind of gasket so all your nasty print fumes don’t leak out the cable hole. I know that this isn’t airtight but we should avoid making it worse. Otherwise, what’s the point?

4. I placed a power strip on the inside of the enclosure for a few reasons: The power for the filter is on the inside of the case, I wanted to add lights on the inside for a webcam, I also wanted to access one power switch for the entire enclosure. If I didn’t have power INSIDE the enclosure, I would have to make sure all the cables were long enough to get to the opening and then on to another outlet from there. The resulting issue comes from the fact that the TAZ5 PDU and power strip fill up a lot of the floorspace in the enclosure. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but if you want to follow this completely, get a power strip with a long cord.

5. For the hardware, I decided to go with “serrated flange locknuts”. I never spent so much time looking at hardware before but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I expected the serrated flange would “bite” into the 3D printed parts and stay tight longer than non-locking nuts. If this thing is heating up and cooling down all the time, it stands to reason that a regular nut might loosen up faster then you like. Unfortunately, the brackets weren’t EXPLICITLY designed for these kinds of locknuts. The locknuts have flanges which end up pretty close to each other. If you use these locknuts, you will get the hang of it over the course of installing your 100+ nuts and bolts. If I can make it easier from the start, maybe this will help someone.

I recommend holding the locknuts flush against the brackets on the inside of the enclosure and then screwing the bolts into them while they remain flush. If you insert the bolts first and thread the locknuts on the bolts second, the locknuts will inevitably collide with bolts that were already installed on the opposing face of the bracket. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, grab one of the brackets and start attaching cap screws and locknuts without the acrylic in place. You’ll see what I mean. Also, this should be obvious but put the neoprene gaskets on the outside. Don’t be too scared to squeeze them up tight.

Further Fiddling

Perhaps you are daring enough to customize this for another printer? You will (somewhat obviously) need to use CAD software to modify the dxf or dwg file to match your desired dimensions. It may not be as obvious when re-dimensioning for your printer of choice that you need to take the following into consideration:

a. Will your printer live comfortably inside? It sounds painfully obvious but you will have to account for things like; moving print beds colliding with the enclosure. In the case of the TAZ5 the depth is critical (and should not be reduced!).

b. Are you comfortable with the overall height? Again, with the TAZ5, the filament guide is constantly butting up against the ceiling during taller prints. I haven’t made any tall prints where this was a problem but I haven’t printed anything up to the max height either. If you are printing something up to the max height you will want to think twice. I take no responsibility for any damage to your prints or printer that results from your use of this design. You could always remove the enclosure temporarily if you are printing something particularly tall. The original Thingiverse posts warned about this but I didn’t want to increase the dimensions. Again, anything bigger wouldn’t fit on a single 4’x8’ sheet of acrylic.

c. Do you actually have room for the final enclosure? The TAZ5 is pretty huge so I can’t imagine anyone making it much bigger than it already is. Just note that the difference between the printer footprint and the enclosure footprint is significant so plan accordingly. It takes up most of a normal size desk in our office.

That’s it! I hope that you enjoy your new cleaner (and quieter!) method of printing. I can run this thing all day in the enclosure and feel safe the whole time. It also looks pretty good!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Leave a Reply