Jun 18, 2015

Custom Brackets - 3D printing is perfect for School Maker project

As part of our middle school tech club's "PC on the wall" project (which I'll describe in full in a future post very soon), we found a few opportunities for using 3D Printed custom parts. I've already posted about the on-off switch - which we aptly called the Big Red Button. This time, I'll share how we created custom brackets to hold most of the PC components to the wall board.

The Challenge

Once we had extracted all the main components from the PC case, it was obvious we needed some new method of holding these things against a board that would hang on the wall. We thought about creating straps out of canvas or even duct tape, or perhaps making custom wood brackets. But it struck us that 3D Printing might actually be the most efficient and flexible solution to this problem.

The Solution

Each component has different dimensions and weight. Besides holding the component to the wall, we also hoped to raise each component away from the wall board by just a little bit to help with cooling and perhaps leave room for some lighting for decoration. The brackets could follow a simple consistent design and just be measured to fit each component. We used our caliper to measure the height of each component away from the wall and that was pretty much all we needed to know. The width and length of the components didn't much impact the design, except in the case of the power supply - explained below.

The Design

Each bracket has a spacer for under the component and a screw hole to hold the bracket firmly in place. Then attached is a simple "L" shaped part which extends away from the wall board and over the top of the component by an inch or so.

The power supply needed a slightly different approach given it's weight and height away from the wall board. For that we designed something that looked more like a strap - a single part that started on one side, went over the top to extend the width, and ended on the other side - with screw holes on both sides. This worked really well.

The only other customization required was one bracket for the CD drive, which had a slightly uneven top height - we designed one of the brackets to specially fit into that spot. again, the customization worked like a charm.

Here's a quick view of 2 sizes of the simple design.

Here's a partial picture of the finished mounted components.

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