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Build a case out of aluminum – How hard can it be?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
A long, long time ago in a reality not far away I got fed up with trying to improve my computer case. It’s just too small to fit what I want. After several weeks searching the web for a substitute I learned that it’s no such thing as a perfect case. I need a case with room for some big radiators and clever layout while not be cramped, but still not a huge tower. The closest one I found was CaseLabs Magnum-series but they’re enormous. And very far from cheap to import to my home.

So while doodling on SketchUp I tried to design what I wanted and then it hit me; why not build it yourself?

I am no experienced modder, in fact I’ve never done more to a case than put things in it, but with a little patience and good problem-solving skills (I hope) I don’t see why it shouldn’t be possible. I’ve designed what I think is a good looking mATX case, and planed on using (2-3mm) aluminum and acryl. I hope the case is small enough and the alu is thick enough that I don’t need a frame. The case will be in two parts with the bottom housing the water equipment and the top the computer parts. I would get a professional to bend the plates to get the rounded corners, but the rest should be manageable without special equipment, shouldn't it?
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If the case turns out to be made without frame, I'm afraid the "roof" at least won't be rigid enough to be removable. Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 29
you ll need to had bent where surface are big,cause aluminium isnt very structurally strong compared to steel so it need a shape that will strenten it!(egg shape should do the trick)no it isnt sarcasm!
post #3 of 29
You are going to need something for the top to be rigid. It wouldn't have to be a full frame per say but bracing of some sort to help it hold it's shape. I am sure it could be done otherwise but the planing an engineering might be more difficult than its worth.

How do you plan on going about cutting the metal ? You would need a band-saw or some other type of standup saw to cut the aluminum. Finding an aluminum motherboard tray would also cut down on the difficulty for sure. Something from an older lian li case would work well.
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post #4 of 29
I like the design!!
As mentioned above, the "main" case parts can be found/bought e.g mobo tray hdd racks etc
From mountain mods or danger dens website fplan on doing something similar in the future, but for now I'm going to just add to my haf 932..
I plan on building a pedestal for it, hoping foretter temps and a cleaner look....
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Good luck and most of all have fun....
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post #5 of 29
Looks fairly similar to Mountain Mods Ascension case, although the Ascenion has water on top and computer on bottom. Having the pump/radiator/reservoir on bottom has the advantage of a leak probably not damaging anything (unless the leak is on the cpu/gpu block), but more important is probably just where you want all the usb/plugs to be (and on top, like your design, is probably better).
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post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
If I change to steel, how much would I gain/lose in rigidity/thickness/weight? I guess I could get it cut and bent at an tinsmith(?), that should be a quick job for them. The holes and minor cutting i should be able to do myself. The motherboard tray will of course be bought. I haven't quite found a place for the HDD so the design isn't final. Ideally they should be placed under the ODD in the basement.
I also have to figure out where to run the tubing, since I must be able to detach them when I split the case. Some strategically placed quick connectors i presume would be ideal.
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post #7 of 29
The weight and structural strength will be depended on if your using an aluminum or steel alloy, or non-alloy steel/aluminum, and the thickness of the materials.
Non-alloy steel is roughly 3x stronger then the same thickness aluminum, and roughly 3x heavier.
A 3mm thick aluminum sheet would be the same weight and strength as a 1mm thick steel sheet.
 
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post #8 of 29
custom case sounds great,but make sure you weigh the cost of materials. you will more that likely need to buy tools for such a build. aluminum is very pricey right now.
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=130_210_750_753&zenid=0c6ef0ce4e9ddde091561f49b4606513
theres a link if you decide to go for it.
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post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Could I make only the roof out of steel an the rest out of aluminum? It's those curves I'm worried about, I don't want a ugly frame right across my plexi/poly/acrylic (what's it called in English?) window.
Regarding the motherboard tray I've already found one that's actually quite inexpensive.

I'm still not entirely convinced I could live with just a mATX board. With two GPUs its really not room for much more even though I seldom have use for it. What if I want a wireless PCI-card? But inserting an ATX would again require a bigger case...

About the tools; if I get the big stuff cut out professionally, wouldn't I get far with just a rotary dremel? And something to cut out the fan holes.
Edited by AngelBow - 3/27/12 at 12:38pm
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post #10 of 29
OP, I think I may bite a little of your idea with this project of yours..... I've drawn up some plans on some scratch paper at work last night and it turned out pretty good.. now to put it in Sketch-up...
I agree, mATX will get only so far... I would just go with ATX and call it a day... Just in case you plan on expanding, you'll have the option to do so.
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