21 Dec 2014: First 3D printed prototype casework
A 3D printed prototype of the casework has been attempted, to verify that it may be created from wood laminates. For the very first objects to be done on a new printer, it worked out well, however the surfaces are not particularly flat and had to be glued together so as to stay in position whilst being drilled. The planned holes (which would be laser-cut) are only 1.2mm diameter and a 3D printer with a 0.4mm nozzle cannot cope to make such small holes.
This first prototype however serves its purpose in verifying that the combined approach of using PDF exports from PADS, creating images from those to import into blender, then exporting STL that may be used as a ghost imported with pyopenscad to build up the actual case, is a workable albeit incredibly long-winded one. When using repsnapper to do the STL to GCode conversion and then pronterface to do the actual 3D printing it gets even longer!
Already however this prototype has proved useful in demonstrating that more modifications are needed (which affect the PCB). For example the touch panel has 3M double-sided tape that needs to stick to something, but at the top the PCB is in the way so the PCB has to be inset slightly in order to allow some edge of the case to be expanded in order for the touch panel to stick to it.
Also, in some ways it would be much better to do a full 3D printed case instead of one that is substituting for wood laminates proof-of-concept testing. The top surface of each layer is not particularly flat, having bumps and ridges, as well as not being very height accurate. This makes assembly difficult, as well as not allowing real-world verification of the design. Some more thought is required.