Pimp your Printer

Ender 3 DIY Printer Upgrade

RAVI Pathariya

Issue 70, May 2023

Bored of your 3D printer’s appearance on your workbench? Why not give it a facelift with this inspiring project.

3D printers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fully enclosed while others are open frame with individual components, just like the Ender 3.

Maker, Ravi, Pathariya, was tired of the appearance of his Ender 3 on his workbench. Inspired by gaming PCs, Ravi used his electronics and 3D design knowledge to give his printer a new look and advanced features. The new design includes a Raspberry Pi for Wi-Fi control, Octopi, and RGB strip lighting with Bluetooth control.

We caught up with Ravi to learn more.

Please introduce yourself to our readers and what got you into electronics.

Greetings to everybody. My name is Ravi Pathariya, and I work as an Electrical Engineer. My social platform is called "RP HOBBYIST", including my Instagram account.

I've always enjoyed building electronic projects since I was a little child, and it increased my curiosity about how things work. I started teaching myself electrical and electronic concepts on my own and began developing little projects. I like the way that new ideas can be used to immediately address a wide range of issues. I enjoy doing science experiments and learning how things operate. Whether it was a remote-controlled car or a clapping on/off switch, the "cool aspect" was always what drew me to electronics.

Tell us what motivated you to make this project.

Mostly all majors’ 3D printer upgrades have been done by the 3D printer community so I was thinking how to make a new upgrade of my own. We all want our printer to have a modern design, so I took all electronic parts from the printer, including the power supply, main board and screen, and placed them into a CPU case.

To give it a modern look, I converted the old CPU case into the control panel for the printer.

I 3D printed the exterior and interior parts to make it look like a gaming CPU.

It does have a gaming CPU vibe. What parts does it use?

All same parts from the 3D Printer and adding some new electronics parts like WiFi relay, Raspberry Pi 3B, old CPU, RGB Lights and more.

With these parts, I can remotely control the 3D Printer and also RGB lights, which are Bluetooth controllable.

Tell us more about the lighting you have added? How is it powered and controlled?

Here in the CPU, I use an RGB LED light and it is controlled by a Bluetooth circuit and powered with a 5V DC supply.

You can change colours from your smartphone using the controller app. With this additional lightning in your 3D printer, it gives you a gaming PC look.

Tell us about the Raspberry Pi’s purpose and how you went about coding it?

The Raspberry Pi is used for the automation. It runs Octopi so I can control the printer remotely.

There is no coding involved in this project but if you are adding a Wi-Fi on/off printer control, I have included a small wiper relay which is required. I have the code available on my website which needs to be installed on the Wi-Fi control module of the relay.

How did you go about designing and printing the enclosure?

Firstly, I started looking at what a gaming PC looks like. After getting some ideas, I started my design using Fusion 360. It took took me around two weeks to design all parts for the CPU body. And, took me around 2 to 3 days to print the whole CPU and its parts.

We notice you have a cooling fan in the design. Does the electronics run hot, and have you added heatsinks to the RPi?

The small fan works on 12V power and it is used for air ventilation to Raspberry Pi.

Indeed, the Raspberry Pi has a heatsink to prevent overheating of the processors.

We also notice that mains wiring is involved. Care should be taken when working with mains power, right?

Yes, you need an understanding of working with AC mains supply. Before doing any modifications, it is preferable to discharge the capacitor installed on the power supply. You should also take pictures of the wiring of the power supply so you can check your work later to make sure you did it correctly. Also, earth the CPU's metal body. After finishing, double-check your mains power wiring to ensure accuracy.

What is the purpose for the DC-DC module and what power supply does your project require?

I used DC to DC Step Up converter from 5V to 12V to power the two Fans in CPU.

In order to power the Raspberry Pi, RGB LED strip Bluetooth controller and the Wi-Fi relay module, I use 5V 2A power supply.

We love that you have used magnets to make the acrylic panel removable without tools.

I added magnets to make it simple to remove the acrylic panel and to give the CPU a contemporary look.

I used a 1 mm acrylic sheet and applied a mirror film. To properly apply the mirror film on the acrylic sheet without creating bubbles, use some soapy water.

It's great that you have access to a CNC machine. It makes the front panel looks great. Tell our readers about the design process and what is involved with the CNC process.

I choose a 3D printer logo and carved it using a CNC machine. To generate the G-code tool path for engraving the logo, I used Fusion 360 software.

I engraved the area where I planned to stick the mirror film. Next, I remove the outer region of logo mirror film and sand the acrylic sheet so that it work as a light diffuser.

It’s great that you could use your 3D printer to upgrade its own look. What are you most proud of with your project?

This project was big for me as I was working my professional job at the same time.

It took around one month to complete this whole project. I am extremely happy with how it turned out.

If any of our readers are inspired and want to make something similar, where can they get the print and code files?

You can get all the details on how to make this project and the STL files on my website.

Is there anything that we haven't covered that our readers should know about the project?

All my projects are flexible and so if anyone would like to change or modify them according to their needs you can do it. Still, if you have any doubts you can contact me on my website.

Regarding the spray paint, I use acrylic colours for the 3D printed parts and regular metal spray paint for the metal body.

You will need to extend all of the wiring to connect to all of the printer parts such as the display and heat bed.

I also used an SD card extender as the SD card on the motherboard is difficult to access otherwise.

Thank you for taking the time to share your project with us and our readers, Ravi.

WARNING: In Australia, a person cannot legally work on voltages above 50Vac without a license. DIYODE Magazine has no intention of recommending that you break any law, and will not be held liable if you choose to do so. Any mistake made by any person working on lethal voltage equipment can lead to their own death, or that of another person.