Aluminium case construction
or aluminum if you prefer.
This has taken a while to put together as I don’t have any power tools of my own, so I’ve been borrowing others.
- Aluminium Sheet – 0.5mm x 500mm x 500mm
- Two part epoxy glue (Amazon, uk)
- Permanent marker
- Aviation snips (Amazon, uk)
- Dremel 300 (Amazon, uk)
- Dremel SpeedClic cutting disk (Amazon, uk)
- 2x square edged wood planks
- square edged desk
- Pillar Drill
- 4mm drill bit
- 5mm drill bit
- 8mm drill bit
- 10mm drill bit
- rat tail file (round file)
- de-burring tool (Amazon, uk)
I started with a big sheet of 0.5mm thick aluminium. I had already decided on the layout of the components on the front so it was just a case of drawing it on the aluminium and cutting it out.
The 0.5mm aluminium isn’t very stiff and I was concerned that repeatedly pulling test leads in and out might damage it so I decided to double it up. I started by drawing up a design as shown below:
I cut the outline using aviation snips then folded one side. The fold was done by simply bending around the edge of a desk, using one piece of wood to hold it down and another to make sure the fold remained even along the length. I used a dremel with a cutting disk to cut in, then gradually completed the fold, repeating the process on the other side:
My reasoning for folding it in two parts was that i wanted to cut into the sides before folding flat, but also wanted the fold to be even along the edge, giving a nice straight finish.
The folds were then secured with a two part epoxy, ready for drilling. I drew up the pattern for drilling, making sure to double and triple check the hole sizes then started drilling. I was able to use a pillar drill for drilling the holes, allowing me to clamp the aluminium in place and make nice neat holes of accurate sizes. I finished up the holes with a rat tail file and a de-burring tool and started on the cut outs for the panel meters.
For the panel meter cut outs, I started by drilling out the corners as can be seen in tha plan above, I then cut along the sides using a dremel as before:
I test fitted all the components and they seemed a good fit so moved onto the next stage, finishing and folding to shape.
Since the aluminium was scratched from the cutting process, I decided to follow this guide on how to brush aluminium. The results look ok, but it has left an uneven finish where the sheet isn’t perfectly flat any more. This doesn’t matter too much, i mostly did it for practice and it still looks better than before:
I bent the aluminium using the same method as before, using the cuts in the back of the folded aluminium to help guide the new folds. Once it was in the right shape, I test fitted it on the power supply and measured the locations for the fixing holes. There are already holes in the power supply for holding the case together so I’m using these to hold the aluminium on, replacing the phillips head bolts with allen key bolts so that i can access them more easily.
And there we have it, the case on the power supply. Up next, labelling and more finishing touches to the case