Designs that are too cool for school
Raspberry Pis are getting more popular, and it’s no wonder. You can do so much with so little when you use a Raspberry Pi. These tiny computers that run on Linux are portable and affordable, often making them the perfect solution for your projects.
It’s a good idea to get a case for your Pi to shield it from its environment. You never know what can happen—you could spill a drink on your Pi or accidentally slide a paperclip into an open circuit causing damage to your sweet little wonder computer. While you can certainly purchase a case, anyone with a 3D printer can choose from a wide variety of case designs to print at home.
We’ll look at a sampling of the coolest case designs for Raspberry Pi 4, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pico, as well as some unusual custom case designs for specific circumstances and goals. All these 3D printed Raspberry Pi case designs are freely available on Thingiverse.
3D Printed Cases for the Raspberry Pi 4
The cases listed below work great for the Raspberry Pi 4 and its variants.
John Sinclair has designed a case for the Pi 4 that accommodates a 40mm fan. Sinclair says that the fan is designed to fit into the case’s lid without the need for glue or screws. Notably, it is printed with no top or bottom layers, which makes the infill visible and gives this case its distinctive hexagonal look.
British engineer Tim Skillman came up with this well-ventilated case design that slides together without the need for glue or screws. The case itself comes in two parts, and the design also includes a single-piece wall mount.
The lid is customizable; the ports are labeled, and it’s easy to remove the Micro SD card, something that can be difficult to do with other case designs.
If you’ve added a hat to your Pi that covers the entire board, you’re going to want to get some airflow going so your Pi doesn’t overheat. This case is designed to cool the air between the board and hats that cover the entire board. Michael Kellsy’s design directs air through a duct from a fan mounted beneath the board.
3D Printed Cases for the Raspberry Pi 3
There’s no shortage of designs for 3D printed cases for the Raspberry Pi 3. Here are two that are designed to impress.
If you search for 3D printed Raspberry Pi cases on Thingiverse, this case is likely to appear at the top of the search results. Offered by user 0110-M-P on Thingiverse, this case design has been downloaded over 169,000 times and has over 288 remixes, which means that other designers have riffed on this original design.
It’s compatible with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and Model B as well as the Raspberry Pi 2 Models B and B+. It’s got an access slot for a Pi camera, built-in VESA mounting tabs, and a screw-together design that mounts the case to the Raspberry Pi. It’s licensed through a Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike license.
Maker Malolo has given us an easy-to-print case that doesn’t require any screws or glue. The snap-fit design is slim and compact, and it comes with three different kinds of stands: vertical, horizontal, and flat.
Even if you don’t have a multi-material printer, you can print a case with multiple colors by following his multi-color printing instructions. Be sure to click through the photos to get an idea of some different color combinations you could use.
3D Printed Cases for the Raspberry Pi Pico
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a tiny, fast microcontroller board that costs just four dollars. Amazing. It’s relatively new, so there aren’t many 3D case designs for it yet, but one of the case designs below should suit your needs.
This customizable case design from David Becerro includes several setups. It’s printed in two parts, and both have versions with holes which you’ll need if you use a pin strip. Note that the holes for the required screws are not threaded, so get out your screwdriver.
Adafruit Industries brings us a cute little Lego case for your Pi Pico. This design is compatible with LEGO. It has built-in standoffs, so your Pico will snap-fit right onto the base plate. The enclosure has space for two switches for buttons.
Specialty 3D Printed Raspberry Pi Cases
Part of the lure of 3D printing is that it’s fast and cheap to test out crazy ideas. Check out these unusual case designs for several different use cases.
Are you the kind of person who likes to let it all hang out? If so, this is the case for you. The open design of this case by Tim Murphy allows you to position an external fan so it’s blowing directly on the heatsink. It’s a mashup of several other designs, taking the best from each and putting them all together in this innovative case design.
Murphy, who goes by knowledgecravings, calls himself a novice designer, but you wouldn’t know it.
Cat owners beware, however! The designer of this case warns, “One serious downside of an open case design is that a curious cat might decide that it’s fun to stop the fan with a claw and then bite it.”
Designer Walter Hsiao brings us a folding Raspberry Pi case that prints flat and then wraps around your Pi. It’s available for The Pi 2 models B and B+ and the Pi 3 models B and B+. You’ll need two flathead screws to hold it all together.
From Daniel Reinke, known as SliderBOR, we get the RackPi Raspberry Pi Rack Shield with OLED and Power Switch. This design features an OLED info screen with a button for rebooting and shutting down the Pi as well as an LED status light.
On the Raspberry Pi 4B and 3B+, the switch will turn the Pi completely off, but you’ll need some extra supplies to print this design. SliderBOR’s instructions take you through all the materials and steps to print and assemble the whole project.