Miniaturizing electronics like PCs, laptops, mobile phones and other devices is a constant and unstoppable process. The growing requirement for mini portable electronics influences the looks and functionality of the everyday use appliances. The fact is that the devices got really tiny, as nowadays you can get a mini PC in a form of a slightly bigger pen drive or a bare PCB part. The variety of portable computers is really huge and everyone interested in purchasing such equipment can do it according to the certain purpose – gaming, learning programming, surfing the Internet, watching online TV or more. Not to mention the core advantage of these – the price of the product and maintenance, as you can get them for less then 50$ and don’t worry about your home budget, because minis consume up to 10 times less energy than normal PCs. Sounds promising, however having small versions of computer may require some compromises.
Room for Improvement
Small size and low price need sacrifices and that usually result in worse parameters and older software architecture which can sometimes completely destroy the satisfaction of using. That’s true also in the case of mini PC’s, as thanks to the raw look and compatibility the producers had to get rid of the things like e. g. optical drive that is necessary to play back CD’s and DVD’s which, to be honest, are constantly losing their popularity, as more and more people use portable discs. Another visible minus and sometimes limits the opportunity to “upgrade” the power of the computer is the small size of the case, which in practice eliminates the possibility to place the necessary cooling systems. Yet another problem caused by the lack of space is the increased noise produced by radiators.
It’s a Maker’s Thing
For most of the professional users the parameters and the capacity of a device are the factors that really matter. By buying a bare PC board they have a chance to build their own version of a mini PC suitable for particular needs and save money. However, the initial parameters might be changed thanks to the trick known as overclocking which is effective and can make the device more powerful, yet requires assembling a proper cooling system. Installing radiators and fans is an absolute necessity as without them the parts may overheat and get damaged. Although here are various ways to cool down the parts, most of them require much place and particular position in the computer case because of their large size or height. Following on this, finding the proper case can get extremely problematic or expensive without the help of 3D printing technology. By 3D printing your own case you’ve got most of your problems solved in the beginning as you can design and 3D print your own case with particular shape, size and capabilities.
Unleash Your Creativity
As undoubtedly, 3D printing technology can help you adjust the device into the electronics that you want to pack it with, there are some other aspects that you may want to consider when it comes to mini PCs. First of all, you have the real change to decide about the design of the device, make it more personalized or just suitable to the colors of the rest of your electronics. If the design is among your main concerns and you decided to choose Zortrax printing materials – you’re at home. Of course you should consider the technical requirements of your casing, if it needs more durability and resistance or you will be satisfied with using our thoughts materials Z-HIPS and Z-ULTRAT. Maybe you want to insert some led lights to the inner parts of your chassis and you need a material that transfers the light? Then you might be interested in Z-GLASS or Z-PETG that are semi-translucent materials, used for example to create this functional light bulb. However, if you are among these who are extra concerned about the surface quality, you also have a plenty of options as you can choose from: mat, semi-mat and glossy structures are easily obtainable by using proper Zortrax materials. Of corse, if you need more variety and extra polished surfaces you can try various post-processing techniques available in our Support Center.
Just in Case
Obviously, Zortrax engineers couldn’t stay behind the popular trend and provided their own cool-cased mini portable computer. Starting from the beginning, it took place in the CAD modeling program which prepared the files for Zortrax M200 3D printer and in fact, did most of the job for us. The infill chosen by the engineer was LIGHT to make the print light and easy to transport, save printing material and cut the printing time.
After turning the printer on, the designer spent some time to choose the best printing material for creating the PC case. According to the properties like strength and warp resistance, Z-HIPS appeared to be unbeatable by giving a nice, shiny texture as well. All in all, the spool was put on the mounter and the process has started, after some time the model was finished and we only had to remove the support and assemble the parts by a few screws. The prototype of the mini PC was created from nine parts which in total cost approximately 25,85 USD. The dimensions of the chassis, which are 3.7/3.1 cm x 26cm x 10.5 cm, make the device really universal and handy.
List of Materials:
- black Z-HIPS
- Zortrax M200 3D printer
One Step Forward
Of course 3D print doesn’t boil down only to producing cases. The technology supports the consumer goods sector to a great extend by providing methods, equipment and real possibilities to improve the whole production cycle in companies. Apart from that it’s also a tool for home users by offering various possibilities for customizing gadgets, household products and many other. In the picture above we can see 3D printed prototypes of products: mini PC, router and loudspeaker that serve as a complete set of functional devices. The basic advantages of the additive manufacturing are clearly visible and help more and more people trust in this reliable and cost-efficient method of smart prototyping.