Automatic Case Designer

BoxCreatorImage

These instructions show how to use the case creator spreadsheet.

One of the big challenges of any electronic product is to make a neat and tidy case of the correct dimensions. It’s perfectly possible to buy some lovely ready-made cases and sit there with a drill, but I quite enjoy bringing everything together so that it all matches.

I originally wrote a case designer sketch in Pro/Desktop which used formulae to change the  dimensions of the tabs and sides automatically, but an easier method seemed to be to reduce the whole thing to a bunch of coordinates in a spreadsheet. These are then copied and pasted into Notepad (or similar) and saved out as a .dxf file ready for importing into your CAD software. We use Techsoft 2d Design Tools.

A quick skim through a .dxf format file showed that it might be possible to take these coordinates to make a slot-together tabbed case. By importing PCB layouts into the final CAD package it was even possible to work out the position of connector holes.

Slot-together-case (1)

Here’s an example of a completed case housing the servo controller for the animatronic head.

The process is a little involved, in that it takes me about 1 minute (slight sarcasm) to do the whole process from beginning to end. A little practise and the possibilities are endless. Just one thing to bear in mind – height and width are the size looking at the front panel. Depth is the distance behind the front panel. Print out the result on paper if you’re unsure.  You may also wish to add to the outline to make the front panel a bit tougher if the case isn’t going to be stuck together.

The final result needs duplicating and then setting up for whatever CAM machine you have. I use a school Denford Microrouter with a 3mm cutter (which matches 3mm Foamex nicely), but it’s probably possible to send these to laser cutting companies.

If you find this useful, please pay it forward. I’ve had a lot of help from others. I’d like to rewrite this one day in Python, perhaps with a GUI. If you beat me to it, can I have a copy?

Spreadsheet image

Use this spreadsheet to automatically create the text for a dxf file.

BoxLayoutCAD

The spreadsheet automatically creates the lines for these three parts. Duplicate to create a complete case.

Included files:

Case designer spreadsheet & Case designer instructions