Original Post

I was playing around with carbon fiber 3D printed cases in addition to the link cable work. The Onyx prints didn’t come out so well but the SLS HP PA12 prints are not bad. Still too expensive though at $24 per case.

The SLS prints also seem to mark up easily as well. Seems like the cart dust cover model here on PlanetVB may be too tight in dimensions. The SLS dust cover won’t go on the VB connector without pushing pretty hard. The cases are a bit tight as well. The plain case less so than the fully detailed one.

The plain covers print better than the fully detailed one with Nintendo writing on the back. The current models have the text too shallow for 3D prints. Virtual Boy shows up on the back using a 75um SLS print and an 100um FDM Onyx print but the smaller text at the bottom doesn’t show well with SLS and not at all with FDM Onyx.

I think the 3D models also have the screw depths too short or the screw on the back cover too deep as when you tighten the screws down they want to push through the front covers. You can see it in the pics of both the FDM Onyx and the SLS HP PA12 prints.

I’d like to try an SLA Formlabs Tough Resin print as well but they’re even more expensive than SLS. Seems like at this point donor carts are still the best option.

75 Replies

mellott124 wrote:

The Formlabs printers want things at an angle.

Huh. Interesting. 😮

VirtuousRage wrote:

mellott124 wrote:

The Formlabs printers want things at an angle.

Huh. Interesting. 😮

I’ll verify with the M.E. at work again but it was something about Formlabs printers trying to minimize surface area per layer print and still balancing support for the part. If you let them auto generate supports for a part like the cart case, it puts them at a steep angle. Maybe I’ll try a flat one just to see what happens.

Here’s the final two assembled red test carts. It came out decent but it’s still not prime time. The material Durable is slightly flexible which isn’t ideal but it dyes well. I’d also probably suspend the part in the dye next time with some flow in the tank to get more uniformity. The material also warps slightly at the cart connector end.

These are ok for prototyping but I would not ship them to people as part of any project. It’s very close to being good enough but just not quite there. I’m going to try a few more materials and then probably table 3D printing cases and connectors.

I reprinted some Tough cases too. This material is probably the best so far. Too bad it comes in blue. It can be dyed a gray or black if needed and would make a decent non-donor case. It’s what Formlabs says is their “ABS-like” material.

I also tested some High Temp material as well as dyed it RED. This material is stiffer than durable but way too brittle. The case cracked when I twisted it slightly. As a side note, the durable has gotten a little less flexible over the last day or two. I think the tough or durable material would be fine for people who want to print their own cases. Don’t think it would ever work for the connector. I’ll test Rigid and Grey Pro next. That will probably do it for 3D printing tests.

They look really good and I’m glad you are testing out different methods.

I got quotes for aluminum molds for the cases. $750 per side. So $1500 for both sides plus a DIY injection molder for $1800. Haven’t quoted the connector yet but I’m guessing it will be about 2x the case. So for DIY injection molding and aluminum molds somewhere around $4800.

If you 3D print the molds the mold price will go down to around $500 or so total but the surface finish won’t be quite as nice. That would be about $2300 which isn’t too bad. It would be good for about 50 to 100 parts and then the 3D molds would need to be reprinted. You could get 1000’s of parts out of the aluminum molds.

You could make cases of just about any color for a couple dollars. Same with the connector minus the pins, which I still haven’t found a great alternative for. This assumes you eat the NRE for the DIY machine and molds.

You’d have to make a lot of cases and connectors to break even on the DIY path to recover the NRE, but at least its somewhat in reach.

On the 3D print front, printer went down for a few days but is back up. New Rigid material is due in about 2 weeks. Should have some case test prints by end of June or so.

Rigid material prints nice cases. Definitely usable. Still not cheaper than a donor though at $8 in material just for the case.

It’s rather unfortunate that the price negates the usefulness.

Kevin: Maybe not as a donor replacement (Until those spike in price) but as an alternative color upgrade for an existing collection or a custom project… $8 feels like a great price point.

What is the close up quality of these? How do they look and feel as compared to an original retail shell?

Here’s the final Grey Pro FormLabs test print. Comes out similar to Tough but grey. Not bad but for the cost I’d still just buy a donor.

I’m done with 3D printing testing for cases. If I go any further with any of this it will be with injection molding.


Mellott, you have done geat things for this community and I trust you. I am willing to donate a decent amount toward those metal molds.

Knightcrawler wrote:
Mellott, you have done geat things for this community and I trust you. I am willing to donate a decent amount toward those metal molds.

Thanks Knightcrawler! This may get rolled into the Maiden Kickstarter if it goes well.

My 3D printed cases are coming out much cleaner now.

That looks great!


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