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Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure – The Easiest Ways to Build or Buy One

Picture of Brian Obudho
by Brian Obudho
Dec 28, 2018

Prusa printers have an open design, which makes it difficult to maintain a constant temperature while printing. In this article, we take a look at how to build or buy an Original Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure Why Do I Need an Enclosure?

An enclosed Prusa i3 MK2S.
An enclosed Prusa i3 MK2S. Source: jmillerfo / thingiverse.com

3D printer enclosures are structures intended to surround 3D printers. Their primary purpose is to:

  • maintain a heated environment,
  • protect against air currents (e.g. from ventilation),
  • prevent the collection of dust,
  • reduce noise, and
  • reduce or contain the smell from the printing process.

One problem with some printers, like the Prusa models, for example, is that they have an open design and air circulates freely around them. The open space makes it harder for the print table to reach higher temperatures that may be required for printing.

The best 3D printer of winter 2018, the Original Prusa i3 MK3, has the same problem. While it may be a favorite among 3D printing enthusiasts, this printer is not enclosed, and that means it’s a challenge to maintain a constant temperature while printing.

In the following, we look at the easiest ways of building or buying an Original Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 1. Ikea Lack Enclosure (To Build)

An easy and affordable DIY option.
An easy and affordable DIY option. Source: prusaprinters.org

The Ikea Lack enclosure is a favorite among 3D printing hobbyists. If you conduct a search on the web, you’ll come across many similar designs. This is your ideal Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure if you’ve chosen the DIY route.

The main components of this enclosure are two (or three) Ikea Lack tables. One is stacked atop the other, with the bottom table serving as a stand holding the printer. The upper table is where any spool holders go and is usually fitted with acrylic sheets.

Apart from being budget-friendly, this enclosure allows you to add your own spin. Often that means how many additional components (hinges, knobs, joiners) you’re going to need. Luckily, most of the components can be 3D printed.

Thingiverse may have different versions of this enclosure, but the enclosure designed by Prusa is an excellent place to start. The design makes it possible to fit two tables together or detach them in case you need access to your Prusa i3.

The design has a double-door opening and accommodates the power supply unit (PSU) being placed outside. It also allows individual tables to be lifted any time.

On average, the cost of this Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure — minus screws and printed parts — should be around $70.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 2. Plastic Sheet Enclosure (To Build)

The simplest DIY option.
The simplest DIY option. Source: MatterHackers / YouTube

Another inexpensive Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure is offered by MatterHackers. It mostly consists of a plastic sheet and will help maintain a high temperature to prevent materials like ABS from warping.

The tools and materials you’ll need for this enclosure are pretty basic.  It’s mostly duct tape and PVC!

Assembly is pretty straightforward, and while MatterHackers admits that using PVC primer and cement would be preferable, friction fitting is enough to give you a rigid frame. Make sure you screw all the threaded adapters until your frame is stable enough.

This Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure is super simple and quick. According to MatterHackers, it should cost about $25.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 3. Plexiglass Enclosure (To Build)

A surprisingly good-looking DIY solution!
A surprisingly good-looking DIY solution! Source: schlem / Instructables

Instructables user schlem provides a DIY 3D printer enclosure that’s almost entirely made of plexiglass and 3D printed parts. He states that it’s excellent for trapping heat and controlling the thermal environment around a printer.

For this project, you’ll need several sheets of plexiglass. If you’re not familiar with the material, schlem recommends having an extra sheet if you want to practice drilling and cutting.

The required tools are fairly basic and include a cordless drill and sandpaper. You’ll also need a flat working surface that is large enough to allow access to all sides of the enclosure.

For more information on materials and assembly, check out schlem’s Instructables page.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 4. Acrylic and MDF Enclosure (To Build)

DIY just got fancy.
DIY just got fancy. Source: GroundZero Space / YouTube

Instructables user TiagoSantos offers another Prusa-specific design. It’s considered a smart enclosure because it employs OctoPi with a Raspberry Pi and a camera!

The enclosure itself is made of acrylic sides while the stand is made of MDF. That said, you’ll need several other materials, as well, including an LED strip, screws, nuts, washers, and paint. TiagoSantos made a side logo out of Vinyl for this enclosure, but it’s optional.

The list of tools is also quite sophisticated. Apart from the use of a laser cutting machine, you’ll also need a table saw, a jigsaw, and a vinyl cutter.

Setting up the electrical structure that will power the Raspberry Pi is up to you. As such, having some electrical skills may be a good idea for this project.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 5. Photo Studio Tent (To Buy)

The Prusa i3 never looked better.
The Prusa i3 never looked better. Source: prusaprinters.org

Buying an enclosure might sound like a way out, but on the other hand, there’s no work! And neither do you necessarily need to pay more, as evidenced by this solution.

A photo studio tent may be meant for shooting, but who says it can’t serve as a Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure? Most average-sized tents retail for under $25 on Amazon, but you can always go bigger. Size is never an issue, as there are many to choose from.

A studio tent is hassle-free, as you only have to get your printer inside it — no fixing or screwing is required. These tents are usually made of a textile and will will reliably protect your Prusa i3 MK3 from dust while still stabilizing the printing temperature.

A normal studio tent won’t let you reach extremely high temperatures, but this means your PSU can go inside the tent. Just keep in mind that synthetic materials used for tents are highly flammable.

Your typical tent has a removable front opening and a detachable front covering with an opening for camera lens. The translucent light-diffusing fabric used for this tent will evenly illuminate your prints and enhance your photos. It’s not a studio tent turned enclosure, it’s a studio tent AND an enclosure.

Prusa i3 MK3 Enclosure 6. MK3 Enclosure Kit (To Buy)

Guaranteed to work.
Guaranteed to work. Source: MatterHackers

If you’re looking for a really professional Prusa i3 MK3 enclosure, MatterHackers has a solution. Their MK3 enclosure kit is made of acrylic panels and is designed to help regulate temperature and warping during the printing process. The kit can work with an array of other printers as long as they are no more than 15.5″ x 17″ x 21.75″.

This enclosure comes with hinged doors on the front and can easily be disassembled in case you’re moving or you want to replace damaged panels. It also has mounting points for a spool and Raspberry Pi.

With this kit, no drilling, cutting, or modification will be required. Only 200 dollars!

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