or small, simple or extremely complex, the right enclosure
can make or break a successful application.
Take kiosks for example. Among the most common enclosure
applications--they seem to be on every street corner--kiosks
must entice users, yet remain practical and functional.
As a result, creativity is a key element in any kiosk
In fact, today's kiosks have evolved to become more
than just attention-getting stands. "A successful,
interactive kiosk must be reliable, user-friendly, safe,
and flexible in its design to accommodate many audiences,"
says Greg Swistak, president of Factura Kiosks (Rochester,
NY), a division of Microtouch Systems Inc.
As with more traditional enclosures, kiosk design considerations
can include ergonomics, environmental conditions, materials,
component placement, serviceability, and shipping. Often
units must accommodate a combination of PC, monitor/touchscreen,
printer, speaker, cooling system, and card-reader system.
And requirements related to the kiosk's specific application
add to the list. For example, kiosks used by the general
public must comply with such regulations as the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA), Underwriters Laboratories'
(UL) safety standards for consumer products, and Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) emission regulations.
Among Factura's ready-to-ship en-closures, for example,
is one that helps customers with public-use products
easily meet such re-quirements: Dura-Shell kiosks.
Introduced as the first kiosks specifically designed
to withstand harsh outdoor elements, DuraShell units
safely house any standard PC system, providing computer
access to the general public in settings such as open-air
transit stations, shopping centers, and sports stadiums.
Key to accomplishing this goal was creating a weatherproof
unit. "Outdoor kiosks need to operate within normal
and abnormal ranges of heat and humidity, function in
rain and snow, keep out dust and dirt, and not suffer
cosmetic or functional damage from exposure to any level
of sun," notes Swistak.
DuraShell features a small air conditioning and heating
unit that regulates the kiosk's internal temperature
and humidity. It maintains the internal environment
at a level of relative humidity below 80% and temperatures
between 45 and 85F--well within the operating range
of off-the-shelf computer hardware.
The climate-control system uses heat exchangers, allowing
the kiosk to be completely sealed and air tight. In
addition, the waterproof housing consists of durable
metal, protected with a two-part urethane paint, designed
to draw water away from internal hardware and electrical
To guarantee user safety against injury or electric
shock, DuraShell meets UL requirements and maintains
FCC-specified levels of electromagnetic discharge to
avoid disruption of other nearby electrical systems,
such as computers or pace-makers. And, as with any structure
located in unattended areas and intended for public
use, DuraShell kiosks offer protection against vandalism
and theft. Each unit features a tempered-steel casing,
uses high-security locks, and can be lag-bolted to the
ground to prevent theft.
Alpharetta, GA-based i-MEDIA was among the first users
of DuraShell enclosures. Working with IBM, the company
developed special kiosks for the 1996 Centennial Olympic
Games in Atlanta. The kiosks helped visitors locate
any of the 324,000 bricks sold to fans through the Commemorative
Brick Program. Inscribed with the purchaser's name and
city of residence, the bricks paved walkways and public
areas in Centennial Olympic Park.
"Seventy to 100 people were in line at any given
time to access the kiosks," says Mike Booke, president
of i-MEDIA, "and the wait on average was 20 to
30 minutes." Once at the kiosk, the user simply
entered his/her name, the brick number, or the inscription
written on the brick. The kiosk displayed a map showing
the brick's location in the park, and printed a souvenir
copy for the visitor.
Five such kiosks were located in an informational pavilion
in the park. The pavilion, which consisted of a roof
but no walls, left the kiosks continually exposed to
the elements. That's where the benefits of DuraShell
were crucial: maintaining the necessary temperature
and humidity levels, and protecting the kiosks' CPU,
thermal printer, and 17-inch touch screen. "We
had no problems with the systems. Availability was in
excess of 99%," says Booke.
Electronics cover-up. Thanks to Carefree
Clearwater Ltd. (Atlanta, GA), people all over the world
are enjoying clean water in swimming pools, hot tubs,
and spas. Carefree manufactures non-chlorine water-treatment
systems for non-drinking-water applications, including
decorative fountains and water-cooling towers.
"Our products are located in areas with high humidity,
water, and corrosive chemicals," says Michael Reynolds,
VP of engineering and production at Carefree. "We
need to use enclosures that will protect our electronics."
The solution: thermoplastic enclosures with both UL
and NEMA 4X ratings from Carlon Electrical Products
(Cleveland, OH). Carefree has used Carlon's NC Series
enclosures in many of its systems for about three years.
Recently, however, the company discovered a use for
a different Carlon enclosure.
Carefree's Model 1100 system, which can purify a pool
containing 30,000 to 40,000 gallons of water, features
an E9802 conduit box, designed to enclose switches in
"We needed something that met our specifications,
and that would enable us to make our product available
to the end-user inexpensively," says Reynolds.
The E9802 enclosure fit the bill.
Carefree modifies the enclosures slightly, milling
a few internal posts and creating entry and exit holes
for the input and output cords. The company also designed
a special thermoplastic cover for the system located
outside of the box. "Using our cover and their
gasket, we've come up with a really good enclosure for
a miniature model," says Reynolds. "This enclosure
wasn't even designed for our type of application, but
we've been able to use it very successfully."
Simple and reliable. Duniway Stockroom
Corp. (Mountain View, CA) provides replacement parts
for VHS Series ultra-high-vacuum pumps manufactured
by Varian Corp. Among the many components supplied are
the pump thermostats.
Each thermostat is housed in an aluminum enclosure
with 1100-0 alloy from Zero Enclosures (North Salt Lake,
UT). The Z40-48 enclosures, which measure just 21/2
inches wide by 3 inches long, have one open end.
Duniway modifies the enclosures by drilling three holes:
one for the thermostat and two for the mounting screws.
The enclosure is lined with Teflonr to provide the needed
Duniway has used the Zero enclosures for about two
years, and couldn't be happier with the products. "The
enclosures were exactly what I needed," says Don
Benanti, purchasing agent at Duniway. "They are
the same--maybe even better--than the original manufacturer's
Choosing the right enclosure
Enclosures come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and
types. But when it comes to specifying an enclosure,
designers in all fields must face similar issues. Here's
a short list of some of those concerns.
What is going into the cabinet?
You can reach the following companies mentioned in
this article on the Internet. Please tell them that
you were referred by Design News.
Factura Kiosks: http://www.microtouch.com
or firstname.lastname@example.org serve.com