Librem 5 Backplate Machining

This was mentioned in other threads, but when I tried to order a custom backplate for my Librem 5 machined out of aluminum, the guy from the fabricator website said that they could not make this part with a CNC machine, and probably could not even make this part with metal 3D print technology, because the metal 3D printing output goes through an oven to solidify the part.

I think it ought to be possible to create the shape file for a much simpler back plate to the Librem 5 with probably less tabs but enough to still attach to the device, in such a manner that asking someone to construct this backplate would be quite easy. However, last time I was making such files was 12 years ago and I was using Autodesk Inventor on Windows with an Educational License. I fired up freecad on my Librem 14 and I believe that if I spent enough time to learn the interface, the buttons and systems appear to all be there to recreate a similar librem 5 backplate with the same dimensions as the Purism file but with far simpler lines to cut.

And, if I could actually have a backplate constructed from a CNC style of technology that cut away material instead of adding material to make something with 3D printing, then I would figure that the physical part might be more likely to be sturdy and never rip up even if I remove it every day to swap the battery. Also, if we were being really fancy, it might be nice to invent a hinged door surrounding only the battery compartment, so that it was easy to open and close this door in an instant, even if it would not open on its own.

Is there some reason this idea would be really preposterous? Does anyone here on the forum have the FreeCAD skills (or spare time) to do something like this? If so, could we donate them some money for their time or something like that, if we order a fabricator to make the end result part and it turns out really well?


I guess maybe this thread could merge with Can you make your own battery pack? and I’m a broken record repeating myself. But in part, I meant for this thread to focus on: how do I get a STEP file of a simple aluminum back, maybe in a short term.

The other thread was focused on a more shoot-the-moon idea of a bigger battery by way of a complex custom back.


Before going forwards with that, I’m wondering if something so rigid could work just like that. The thing that bothers me is that the plastic backplate allows to bend a bit, which I’d imagine is essential for the groove locking mechanism. I’m not sure what those tolerances are and is flex needed. I’m also wondering would metal backplate need a metal inner frame so that the metal doesn’t destroy the plastic grooves?

One option (that would also help with not having that file) would be to make similar size, without the small details, and use some other method of locking it to the back - like screws (that could look cool). Doesn’t solve the problem but may help in creating an alternative solution.

It will probably have some effect to antennas, but that’s probably impossible to know without actually testing it.

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Instead of a custom backplate, how about a battery magazine loader?

(Complete with bumpstock.)


But then you’d have to register it with the ATF.


I’d recommend manufacturing a backplate out of an RF-transparent material, as the wireless signal strength may be noticeably reduced.