Unlike many other manufacturers, Valve catered to its users by including a free carrying case with all Steam Deck orders. The case works quite well overall, but the internet has broadcast some unfortunate Deck destructions from users who forget to zip their cases. Picking it up when unzipped can easily cause the Deck to fall to its doom. A variety of solutions have been shared online, from using colored tape to make the zippers more noticeable, to just “pressing F to pay respects.”
Inventor, LWC, looked for a different solution; a solution that almost eliminates the possibility of human error when using the Steam Deck case, which was dubbed, the “Lifesaver.”
The Lifesaver is a 3D printed accessory for the Steam Deck case, which slots into the inner seam, attaches to the strap, and acts as a gentle clamping system. While you can forcefully shake the Deck loose (and I mean forcefully), this system works incredibly well for the moments after you pick up your case and realize you’ve forgotten to zip it shut. While this has thankfully never happened to me, hopefully it can save others from owning a $400+ paper weight.
I had the opportunity to speak with LWC, who shared some details on how the solution evolved. Several concepts and prototypes were produced; the initial idea focusing on how to keep the case closed. After a few prototypes, the solution transitioned to how to hold the Steam Deck in place in the event that the case was picked up without being zipped shut, and the Lifesaver was born.
Thankfully, you can print the Lifesaver for yourself free of charge if you have access to a 3D printer. LWC expressed his solutions are always published for free under Creative Commons licensing because “when big manufacturers solve these problems, they just shove products in your face. I [LWC] do this out of passion, and hope other creators find fulfillment in solving problems and sharing their solutions with others.”
It’s worth noting, this Creative Commons license restricts the resale of any Lifesavers you print, and LWC also opted to include a “derivatives clause,” which prevents others from publishing work for profit that uses his design as the starting point. When asked why, LWC responded, “my ideas and solutions are mine to share.”
If you have a 3D printer, or access to one through a university or public library, feel free to print your own by downloading the .stl file on Printables.
I printed my own the day after seeing LWC’s original announcement on Reddit, and can confirm it works as expected. The print itself is quite thin, but once installed in the case, it feels solid. LWC recommends printing the file at 25%-35% infill with 1.2mm walls for stability. I printed mine on 25% infill with .8mm walls, and it works just fine. LWC also recommends adding some sort of fabric tape to the clamps to secure the Steam Deck even more while reducing the possibility of scratching the Deck’s plastic shell. As a reminder, if you’re printing with PLA, you may experience warping in high heat which would reduce the strength of the clamp, so ABS is recommended.
Overall, we need more of these types of solutions. The 3D printing space is easier than ever to enter, and individual creators can cheaply and quickly solve problems without needing to rely on large manufacturers.
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