IoT: Using 3D printing to prototype electronics cases


Last week we joined an event from the Barcelona Internet of Things group (IoT).

We thought that the best use case for 3D printing applied to IoT is to prototype cases for the electronics usually used, since IoT definitely implies hardware.

The presentation had a 10 minutes limit, so we showed a simple case: how to modify an Arduino Uno case.

It is not about reinventing the wheel each time, but to benefit from shared models that already exist and modify them to our needs.

The Thingiverse repository

We showed how Thingiverse can be a good starting point:  searching for “arduino case” we got 1000 results! Sure there is something you can reuse….

Note that there are other repositories also very valid, like Youmagine.

In this example we take an Arduino Uno case designed by ZygmuntW.

thingiverse arduino case

And we download the STL file belonging to the base. We already have a base with the proper size and measures and the correct supports.

Modifying with TinkerCAD

Now we upload into TinkerCAD, one of the most simple modeling apps that we recommend as a first choice to get in touch with 3D modeling. What’s best is that it is a web app and it allows to import STL files and modify them, exactly what we need.

STL simple treatment is one of the advantages of TinkerCAD. There are many CAD apps that do not allow working with STLs directly, or need to go through a process to convert the mesh into a model that the app can understand. And they oblige you to work in their original format, or best case to import the STEP format. If you plan to modify STL files, take this into account when you select your modeling tool.

tinkercad arduino case

Using the app we substract “IoT” from the case base. Simply it’s adding the three letters and convert them to holes. TinkerCAD manages the rest and process them as a subtraction of objects.

3D Printing

Then we just have to print it with a Delta Black. The Delta 3D printers are robust, we carried it with our motorbike inside the city and we just did not have to do anything about it, start and print. With the fix base there is no need for calibration.

We launched the printing during the event. The first part of the object was printed at 100 mm/s, and after responding to a question from one of the participants we increased speed to 350 mm/s.

IoT arduino case

A simple way to prototype cases for your electronics.

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