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I have a ton of ideas for building a robot using an arduino and raspberry pi. I have an assembled the wheels and chassis, and now I am left with an ugly raspberry pi and arduino + wires. It works, but I want to make a body / case to cover all the electronics.

I DO NOT have a 3D printer, I want one, but I currently don't have the $$ or space for it. Do you have any recommendations on materials that I can use instead of using a 3D printer service.

I am thinking about something along the lines of an erector set / legos, but I want something more durable, yet something I can cut holes in. I've seen the plastics that you boil and then shape with your hands, like Play-dough, but I'd have to make molds / take a lot of time to hand-craft parts out of it.

Any ideas for an alternative to a 3D printer?

Thanks!

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  • $\begingroup$ you already presented some ideas ... why can't you use Lego? ... there must be a way to make it durable $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Jun 14 at 23:38
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With consideration cheap, strong enough, not ugly and easy to shape, then my recommendation is you can use clipboard. I have seen people win international robotic competition with robot made using clipboard. So this idea worth to try.

Clipboard Figure 1. Clipboard

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  • $\begingroup$ I hadn't actually thought of this, but I like the idea! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – NCarlson
    Jun 15 at 17:03
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Consider things like food storage containers, dishpans, and household storage bins. Some (HDPE?) ones are reasonably stiff yet compliant, and you can readily cut them. Beware the beautiful, crystal-clear ones that are hard and brittle.

If you're in the US, take a walk through your local Target or Walmart, and see whether some Rubbermaid or Tupperware shapes and sizes seem to suit your purposes.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am in the US and I have been looking through random stores, but so far I haven't found anything ideal. Thanks! I appreciate the suggestions! $\endgroup$
    – NCarlson
    Jun 15 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ Also local hardware stores have possibilities. And check out the discussion at robotics.stackexchange.com/questions/21971/…. BTW, if an answer works for you, a green checkmark would be appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – r-bryan
    Jun 16 at 3:18
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If you want to build a robot with lots of moving parts, or just a dedicated, aluminum building medium, and dont have a tight budget, you can use Actobotics building parts, from servo city.com (https://www.servocity.com/actobotics/) enter image description here

They are metal pieces with holes, so you can attach screws, other Actobotics pieces, servos, motors, and they even have mounts for Arduino's and raspberry pi's. The holes are stategecly placed so that you can mount most boards and shields on them, and the holes will be in the right places.

You can see what you can do with Actobotics with their insights PDF: https://www.servocity.com/product-insights/

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0.5mm 1x2m^2 sheet metal @ your local hardware store ~ 2EUR

metal cutting pliers ~ 4EUR

being able to cut it, fold it, punch* it for ventilation - priceless

* use a nail and hammer/stone; rest on a disposable plank; punch from out to in; protect any PCBs, motors and especially wires inside from the jagged edges or neutralise those with a file or sillicone

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Cardboard on top of a cheap robot chassis can be quite effective. See this version of Openbot that does not use a 3d printer: https://custom-build-robots.com/raspberry-pi-robot-cars/openbot-your-smartphone-controls-a-robot-car-introduction/13860?lang=en

I will typically use hobby-board plywood as a base and cardboard as a second layer. Get the hobby-board at Ace hardware and order a pizza to get the cardboard! You can cut the hobby-board with a razor knife (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBSYU04QXj8) and drill mounting holes with a dremel or hand drill https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JN1ZL6Y . Use brass standoffs to separate the layers to your liking https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HWQ2VHE/. That makes it very easy to rework things until they are perfect. You can then spray-paint black to give it a finished look.

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