Re: Custom made computer case

From: Bill Richards (
Date: Wed Dec 17 2003 - 05:04:41 EET

I can echo what Greg said, wood is very popular for one-of-a-kind
computer cases. It has a wonderfully esthetic effect, looks and feels
luxurious. And in the hands of a real craftsman, can be a real piece of

Acrylics, pattern cut sheet metal, and a few other materials are
proving to be quite popular. The most important thing to remember is
whatever material is used, care must be taken to make sure that the
heat can be removed from the CPU -- or else! (This brings to mind that
fire-resistant materials may be a preference.)

Unfortunately, most materials used for rapid prototyping processes are
designed for rapid phase change so they can be deposited and merged.
They work well in this purpose, but as a result tend to be fairly
unstable. With a few exceptions, most of these materials succumb to
deterioration over time. This makes them unsuitable for long term use,
such as a custom case for a computer. Imagine how angry the customer
will be when after two years, his expensive computer case starts to

Secondary-process materials such as Urethane plastics are more
esthetically pleasing than the original process materials, but even
urethanes are unstable, and can begin to warp or color change depending
on the environments in which they are kept. Also, the CPU's of most
modern desk-top PC's generate a considerable amount of heat. This can
be a problem as well.

However, the patterns generated by an RP process can be used to create
molds from which real-world, engineered materials can be used to create
the case. By creating the case in modular pieces, one could create
fairly intricate designs that could be assembled into the case. Apple
Computer pretty well proved to the world that a computer does not have
to be in a box. But it should also be pointed out that the one thing
they could not get away from, was that the heat of the CPU must be
dealt with! So airflow must be the forefront concern with any design.

        - Bill Richards

On Dec 16, 2003, at 3:17 PM, Marshall Burns wrote:

>     An associate is interested in manufacturing computers cases in
> one-off quantities for special customers. I'd like to ask if anyone
> has any thoughts or suggestions to share on the subject.

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