3D-Printed Enclosure

Hey All,

Just got here and I’m slowly designing an electric longboard. Haven’t bought any parts yet but I had a question about battery enclosures. I have a friend with a 3D printer and was going to use his. I was going to use PLA plastic, but he mentioned you lose structural integrity around 60 degress C (140 F). I’m still trying to decide what kind of battery set up I’m going to use, but is PLA plastic safe to use as an enclosure material? I know ABS plastic holds up noticeably better, but it’s also more expensive. Any and all thoughts are welcome.


PLA will last about 3 minutes. ABS or better if you are gonna print. Vacuum formed ABS is best. Talk to @psychotiller, he’s the king of enclosures.

PLA is very tough, but if you leave it in a hot car, or the batterys get hot it will warp. ABS is around the same price as PLA, but very hard to print without warping. Try PETG, best of both worlds.

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I’ve had a friend use ABS and he’s only had problems with it, mainly layer separation causing the enclosure to split in half. He’s going to try putting a layer of fiberglass inside of the enclosure to reenforce it. You could also try what @danielz said and use PETG, I use it and it’s great but I think you may still have the same problem as the prior.

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A lot is down to the skill of the printer and the tools he has. Unless he has a 100c heated bed, an enclosure and decent bed surface, dont even attempt large ABS parts. Try PLA see how you go, keep it out of hot cars lol.

I dont own 3d printer so dont quote me, but I did research cuz I was going to buy. PLA, baking seems to increase the tensil strength and layer adhesion, but decrease size in XYZ ABS, u can aceton bath, makes super tough complete adherent. Nylon, u need decent printer, need dry box. Also, u can epoxy coat.

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ill be using PLA for my prototypes because its so east to print. Im using active cooling anyway, so its unlikely to see 60c. My PLA drone is holding up perfectly.

I’d say if your planning on buying your parts from like Shapeways or something I’d recommend just buying a real enclosure. You also may want to buy a 3D printer cause they are really useful and only about $200 nowadays if your ok with some DIY’ness.

not planning anything on enclosure or the printer yet. I want some decent size printer but those at least cost me 350. a bit much from my budget.

Thanks for the input guys. Not sure I’m gonna get my own printer- I’m trying to keep things relatively cheap. How hot do LiPo batteries get during active use? I wasn’t planning on any active cooling, but a heat sink is not out of the question.

highest i got was 50c and that was from rc bashing and puffing lipos. u dont have to worry too much on active cooling

Alright well if you do start looking for a printer I have the Anet E10 and other than a couple stupid things you need to fix it’s great for only $270 on GearBest. Printing area is quite large at 220x270x300 though the CR-10 is a better option, but at $400. It’s funny I bought it for $300 right when it came out saying it was going to go up to $370 after the “flash deal” and I knew it wasn’t going to, but I didn’t realize it was going to go down another $30! Sometimes I really hate GearBest lol.

@maxhost4 your LiPos shouldn’t even get warm if your using LiPo’s like the foil pouch ones for RC cars and whatever because they have a high C rating compared to 18650’s which get a bit warm under load though this obviously depends from pack to pack.

I used ABS for my enclosure and it lasted about 12 miles before the front part of it split down a layer… Should have printed it in a different orientation.

I managed to use gorilla glue to bond it back together, with the addition of a healthy reinforcement of Scotch fiber tape on the inside of the enclosure. I’ve now hit the 30-mile mark on very sub-par roads and it’s still running strong. If you’re gonna print an enclosure for the batteries, make sure the layers are perpendicular to the board, so the stresses don’t cause de-lamination. I would also just throw some fiber tape in there for extra security, this stuff is great. You can even use it to wrap your batteries for extra protection against vibration.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00548R6AU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000223UV/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Thanks for the tips guys. I’ll let you know how the printing goes once I figure out the dimensions I need.

The problem with PLA is that it is too stiff, so it will no deform, or it will resist the loading and your deck is gonna be stiffer too

ABS is way more flexible and better for mechanical parts, in other words it can absorb more energy than PLA

PLA will also decompose with time since its biodegradable, another big problem is that it’s hard to glue, and most printer can’t print an enclosure in one part

Printing ABS is not hard, but requires a heated bed and a very good adhesion to it, currently I use a purpose made liquid that leaves no residue on the parts and when cool the pieces pop of the bed. But when hot if you try to remove you will shatter the glass. Also is better to print in natural (natural, not white) ABS than the ones with color, since some pigments affect layer adhesion

ABS is also easy to glue using acetone, it melts the plastic from two parts together and they become one, in more like cold welding than gluing

These are my enclosures all printed in ABS


I have a 3d printed enclosure. Works great so far. I printed it in parts. Recently one part broke because I basically drop the board. I think you can use PLA but you got to be careful. PETG probably your best choice.

Good to know. I haven’t actually decided what the enclosure is gonna look like yet- I may even do some kind of hybrid enclosure with segmented parts. Kind of spitballing at this point

pla is very tough??? do u only ride your board indoors man? pla gets shredded in seconds man but I do agree petg is best

I’ve gone around 60 miles with my eclosure made from petg. Currently it Is actually attatched by some metal plumbers tape and the 3d printed part is just making the shape. I plan to use screws soon but I need to get to a final design first

I’ve been using a PLA enclosure for the ~3 weeks maybe 100 miles.

It has cracked in several places but it’s also very thin and I’ve been able to patch it up with some PLA ‘welding’. I intend to replace it with an ABS or PETG enclosure eventually, but I think PLA might be doable if it is printed relatively thick and kept out of sunlight/ heat.