Orange Pi Controller
An App Company specialized in Digital Marketing
This customer made a 3D printed mockup for testing their project. The printed enclosure worked well for the purpose of testing but the quality of the enclosure, the time constraints, and the “not-production friendly” issues of 3D printing proved to be problematic and did not meet their needs.
A standard enclosure wouldn’t work for them either because of an additional fan that needed to be secured on top. To the right is the original 3D printed model with the necessary components.
The customer’s question was: “How do I make a custom plastic enclosure for my Orange Pi board?”
The customer found Toolless through a Google search and was interested in seeing what we could do to help. They really liked some of our designs we had to offer. Especially the 2C Snap-In features for our Raspberry Pi design. Our 2C enclosures are the most cost-effective option and probably the closest to being an “off-the-shelf” enclosure that we produce.
Their goal was to make an enclosure as small as possible, while still having access to all the necessary ports.
Transforming the Design
Due to the nature and process of 3D printing enclosures vs the Toolless custom enclosure process, some adjustments were made along the way. We needed to take what the customer had imagined and create a quality custom enclosure that could be easily and quickly produced.
One of the biggest differences between a 3D printed part and an enclosure produced by Toolless is in the holes that an enclosure has. Something that is easily printed, doesn’t always mean it will be production friendly.
Port Holes for Connectors and Jack
First, we looked at the original device, which had two holes to accommodate two connectors (one for a Sim card and one for a ribbon cable). We combined the holes and milled out a bigger cavity to allow for the connectors. We have different sizes of end mills but for this project, however, a 2mm tool was enough for the opening. Note, that on the picture from Toolless, the recessed area around the mini HDMI connector. This recessed area allows clearance for the plastic rubber around the male connector, enabling a good connection.
The next step in the integration from the 3D model to a customized enclosure was in modifying the design of the hole for the jack. The square was unnecessary since the cable jack was circular. We modified the microphone pattern as well so that it would match our end mill size, but still maintain the functionality the customer desired.
Pin Connector and Geometrical design
When looking at the top of the 3D Model we had to consider the pin connector access as well as the geometrical design that was important for the customer. In the 3D printed version, the cut out for the pin connector was too close to the bending area. Too short of a distance, such as this, would deform the cutout after bending. However, simply by moving the cutout just enough allowed for the pin connector to still be located on top without being damaged by the bending process.
We were able to accommodate for the customers design through etching. At Toolless, we can provide etching as a way to cosmetically enhance a design and make it more appealing.
One feature that also needed to be redesigned is the pattern of the vents on the side. On the 3D printed version, the slots for the vents are too machine intensive, hence cost sensitive. A redesign of these grooves was necessary to accommodate our customer’s budget. Toolless often needs to change patterns such as these due to the optimization of the travelling time for the machine.
The customer also needed to tie down the cables, so it wouldn’t interfere with the components of the board. We came up with an additional machined block that is glued in place to allow the customer to wrap the cables around the notch.
Finally, Toolless secured the circuit board with standoffs, pre-made for us, and added threaded inserts to screw the circuit board into place.
Here are pictures of the final product.
Final product showing the cut outs for connectors and ports.
Once approved we made the enclosure in Standard 3mm Black ABS since no environmental requirements such as water or fire resistance were required.
The customer didn’t want any text on the enclosure and as the engraving speaks for itself no printing on this part was necessary either.
The customer was very pleased with the enclosure and intend to order multiple iterations of it.