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Custom Designing Display cases for Modulars
I am tired of the dust collecting on my modulars, but so far I have been unable to find a suitable case big enough to display multiple modulars arranged in a "street formation" The price on purchasing a custom-made case is exorbitant. So I have taken it upon myself to build one from scratch using plexiglass on five sides with a high quality plywood base.
It occurred to me that many modular collectors might have run into the same problems… custom made cases are expensive and nothing on the market is designed to be really long, moderately high (20" fits the tallest modular) and 14" deep (deep enough for street space beyond the boundary of the modulars themselves). I'm wondering if anyone here has done this before/ has products or materials to recommend/ would be interested in buying a case from me if I went through with this and made several.
I have landed on 33' inches long, 20" high, and 14" wide as the dimensions used. It is big enough to fit three modulars, plus 3+ inches of street space on the front and corner. The reasoning behind these specs is rooted in flexibility of use/display arrangements, appeal to larger pools of possible buyers (many people only own a few modulars, not all 9) and manageability of shipping options in the event that these things actually become marketable. They will be stackable, but also align-able side by side (spacing between modulars displayed in this fashion from one case to the next would be one-quarter inch) in both street row formations or town square formations (I'm hoping lego makes 12 of these total at least to complete the square.
I'd like feed back of all types from members here. I'd like to get this project rolling.
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The problem you will run into is that to make anything half decent it will take good quality materials & tools plus time (most likely lots), which means cost.
So if you are planning to make multiples for resale you will soon see why custom display cases cost a lot. If they are just for your own use and therefore you don't need to take into account the time then you could save a good amount of money, IMO.
Anyway I'm not trying to be negative I hope you can make it work and if you do go ahead I would be interested in seeing the finished product.
My plan is to sell them on eBay using but it now option at considerable markup, but accept offers from brickset users. In eBay when you make an offer you can list terms. I would specify here in this forum what the "at cost" discount would be, and users here could enter a "password" under terms which would indicate to me that they are a bricksetter. Then I would honor the offer.
If you like DIY, just get some panes of glass and fish tank sealant and make your own.
Apparently there was some defect last year where the glass was cut too short so the glass sides fell out, so they recalled them all, only to find it was just a small batch and so made the decision given the recall to cancel the line, now as I say seem to have uncancelled the black coloured ones.
Either way, I don't know if the black detolfs are back for good again now, or if it's a temporary thing still before they cancel them again.
The problem with someone making them then selling them it going to be transportation costs. Even if they are made like Ikea based stuff, the costs with regards to weight and shipping pretty much ends it.
Its two halves exactly fit three modulars each, although its height, 36cm, is not tall enough for the likes of the town hall.
Those are the only 2 modulars I have built at the moment but you can see the 3rd baseplate fits alongside them with about 5mm to spare.
It'll block UV as much as any pane of glass will.
As @Shib has pointed out 5mm thickness is your minimum at those sizes. Any thinner will bend and sag, and certainly won't cope being stacked.
I've cut Perspex on a router table and the results are good enough for your own use but I'd return anything I'd bought as it wouldn't be good enough for me if i was shelling out money.
I had perfect results when I milled them at work on milling machines (both cnc and manual).
I think bigger units would require jigs to hold them together whilst joining, this is what I'm slowly working on at the moment so i can make a case for my ucs super star destroyer.
I'd hang fire on any door or hinge mechanism until you have perfected your Perspex technique as this will just add complexity and make the finished item less clean looking.
My last piece of advice would be to read up on working Perspex and practice plenty on small scraps as it could get expensive very quickly if you ruin large pieces. Good luck and keep us posted on progress.
The frame work is made from aluminium extrusion called 'Makerbeam' and then I've used 3mm thick perspex on each side.
The beams have slots running their entire length so the perspex just sits nicely into it.
Although a perspex box that is fully mitred and chemically bonded together is the most professional looking display case, this makerbeam stuff does have some advantages.
1- It comes in various pre cut lengths so if you have no diy/engineering skills it can just be bolted together.
2- The perspex edges are hidden within the extrusion so again as long as you can cut it (or have it cut by the supplier) there is no need for expensive equipment to make the perspex edges perfect.
3- The cost of the perspex is kept low as it only needs to be 3mm thick, as opposed to a glued case which would require more costly, thicker perspex as the size of the box grew (SSD I'm thinking of you).
4- Bigger sheets shouldn't sag as they are supported on all 4 sides by the grooves, and the perspex itself is not structural as the frame takes all the load.
5- Because the frame takes the load, cases of the same sizes could be stacked. Even pinned together using the grooves as locators.
6- If you do have diy/enginneering sklls and equipment it doesn't take much to chop, redrill and tap the ends so your cases can be made to exactly the right dimensions.
This time I used black as it is what I had available but I think the silver version would look better for most applicatons in the future.
Here's the makerbeam site;
Did you have to cut the beams or were you able to use standard lengths?
I am fortunate in that all but the corner cubes for this case were offcuts from projects at work, so it only cost me £11.88.
I did some quick calculations from the UK makerbeam supplier and my local perspex shop and the total would have been about £83. So not cheap, but this is buying small amounts, if you wanted to make lots of cases obviously buying in bulk and being clever with your cut lists would reduce this significantly.
I checked for US suppliers of Makerbeam and could only find Amazon, and they seem to be out of stock on some key lengths. :/
I keep telling myself that I will just get into woodworking and make my own stuff. I'm sure there some innate hidden ability in there somewhere..