In a whimsical little surprise, Valve has released the CAD files for the outer shell of its upcoming Steam Deck platform.
While the hardware itself doesn’t launch for another two weeks, the files will allow “tinkerers, modders, accessory manufacturers, or folks who just want to 3D print a Steam Deck to see how it feels,” Valve said on its website in a news post.
Also announced via the Steam Deck Twitter account, the files will give gamers a much better understanding of exactly how large the unit is, including how button and stick placement feels.
Good news for all the tinkerers, modders, accessory manufacturers, or folks who just want to 3D print a Steam Deck to see how it feels: We've published CAD files of the external shell for download: https://t.co/pSDhTfDL9n
However, when printing the model, it is not possible to replicate the true weight of the unit, as the model will only use about 180g of PLA (the plastic used to print 3D models in most consumer printers), even when printing with 100% infill (the density of the print). With the Steam Deck coming in at just over 650g, the 3D printed model comes in shy of a third of the weight of the actual device.
All this being said, there are some incredibly crafty individuals out there who we’re confident will modify the CAD files to include space inside the device for a few weights (ball bearings and magnets are both common choices) to match the weight of a functioning Steam Deck.
With these CAD files becoming available, it stands to reason that we’re probably going to see people printing new shells of their Steam Decks, potentially before they have the actual unit in their hands, and it’s sure to be a boon for the modding community. However, moulded plastic as Valve is using in the Steam Deck is far superior to the strength and precision of a consumer 3D printed model, and while Valve has already shown off the internals and repairability of the Steam Deck, they’ve also warned against actually performing any of these repairs or replacements as an end user. Time will tell what users are actually able to do with these models.