3D printed case settings and material choices

Anyone who has 3D printed the case have tips on settings and materials they can share? I’m thinking about having one printed but not sure what to use for things like layer height and material type (e.g. PLA, ABS, nylon, etc.)

don’t use PLA, it won’t handle anything close to the temperatures potentially required.

@Peter_Schofield copy that! ABS would be ok tho right? Nylon definitely would too I think but would be a lot more expensive potentially

To follow up on this, PLA’s glass transition range is right in the range of the CPU. That being said, Didn’t think that the design had any situations that the CPU, or mounting hardware was in direct contact with the case. That air envelope should provide a decent buffer.

To be on the safer side for the material here though I’d still go PLA+ over PLA with it’s slightly higher glass transition rate. Figure that if it is good enough for 3D printed firearm frames, and receivers, dealing with a CPU that will be in a situation with greater airflow than inside the laptop should be on the easy side.

I’ve never printed with ABS (don’t particularly want to, it’s nasty stuff), but it is the stuff that lego bricks are made from, so temperature wise it should be fine, as should PETG (basically ABS without the toxic fumes)

I print in PETG 90+% of the time. It really depends on the quality of the raw materials and the fillers as to when it softens. I have had PETG rolls where the colorant dropped the optimal print temp by more than 20C. The recycled stuff from GreenGate is fairly good material, especially in clear/uncolored. Their dimensional tolerance leaves a bit to be desired though.

If the case is not tight to any components, lots of free air flow, you should be okay with PETG. If there is any tight spots, or it gets clogged with dust and holds onto to warm air and radiated heat, you may end up with some slumping and sagging.

If you are really worried about heat, polycarbonate or Apollo-X are for sure going to last. Not cheap and most print services do not offer those materials, either.

Ended up going with black ABS with 20% infill from CraftCloud. We’ll see how it holds up.

Hey Cody,

How did the ABS hold up after the past few months? Testing our a few different materials myself right now!

I actually just fired up the computer for the first time today. Got windows installed and am typing this message using it haha. So far so good re: the ABS, more or less. The connection at the center of the back piece isn’t totally flush and I probably can’t fix it without taking all the tiny screws out and disassembling it. I also added a door strike plate of all things to the joint that’s caddy corner the antenna/power button because it’s real floppy there. The strike plate also gives a nice attachment point to grab/move the computer or whatever.

I use PLA and its fine.

What about the various strengthened versions such as PETG Carbon, ABS Kevlar and ABS Carbon? I am looking for something close to GFRP/CFRP from Thinkpads PSREF specs, possibly something more rubbery so that I don’t need to paint it to get that grippy feeling.

I missed this thread earlier, but we use PLA “Pro” internally when we print these. Ingeo 3D850 or 3D870 based filament works great.


I have used gembird PLA for a FW tablet and it deformed after weeks of use, now using Gembird PETG and it holds well after about good 3-4 months without any deformations or issues. I even forgot it turned on in a case so it had every opportunity to melt. And it was pretty cheap. I don´t know the settings by heart though so can add later.

PLA is good for prototypes and drafts when you want to make sure you get dimensions right and everything fits. PLA will become soft at 65-70C, and creeps at temps below that.

ABS or Nylon should work well, either plain or CF/GF. I’m planning to print an enclosure with CF Nylon when I receive my AMD motherboard upgrade. CF/GF varieties also have non-glossy rough texture that I personally like, it’s quite grippy and looks less like being 3d-printed.