Frequently called a black box, electronic systems comprised of electronic components and subassemblies eventually require an enclosure. In some cases, the end package must be extremely durable and even waterproof or at least weatherproof. While many enclosures rely on a housing made of cast, extruded or stamped metal, the most cost-effective are usually molded plastic — especially for low-cost portable products. A combination of specs, such as rugged and lightweight, poses special challenges. In contrast, a combination of materials may allow an easily modified custom enclosure design. Getting the right enclosure entails understanding the process(es) suppliers use to meet the products' specifications.
CAST MAGNESIUM ENCLOSURE
This end product with extremely rugged, lightweight, waterproof and dustproof specs reduces the design options for the enclosure. Given these high-level specifications for a portable GPS system, Chicago White Metal Casting Inc. (CWM) proposed a hot-chamber magnesium die casting plus precision Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining for adding the communication antenna, hot-swappable batteries and pole mount. An integrated I-beam configuration reinforces the 7-inch high (17.78 cm) casting that weighs 11.2 oz. (317.5 g). The mating specifications rely on CNC machining software and control for the feed rate, coordination, location and speeds. The final steps involve a conversion coating, a fine textured powder coat finish that color matches non-metal components, and pad printing. The rugged design of the enclosure allows the GPS system to survive 6.5 ft pole drop to concrete. For more information on Chicago White Metal Casting Inc.'s die cast enclosures.
CUSTOM PLASTIC ENCLOSURES
According to Rapp Plastics, manufacturing a custom, mass-produced injection-molded housing typically begins with an interactive discussion between the manufacturer's design team and the customer regarding possible solutions. The intermediate process steps can vary, depending on the end application requirements. For example, the same process steps would not apply for a wall case for a wireless fire warning system, DIN rail enclosure for telecommunications, or case cover for server applications. Depending on the chosen solution, creating the design and functional prototypes, construction of injection molds and tool making activities precede the actual molding of sample parts. With an approved 3D working model, the end-result can match expectations and meet delivery requirements for high-volume production. For more information on Polyrack Tech Group's Rapp Plastics technology services.
FLEXIBLE HYBRID ENCLOSURE
By combining an extruded aluminum base with ABS plastic endcaps, Rose+Bopla Bos-Ecoline provides users flexibility in sizing an “off-the-shelf” enclosure. Available in three different versions — closed, open on one side or split — the clear anodized aluminum profiles provide the basis for a rugged enclosure. Available in meter lengths, profiles have four width sizes from 57.5 to 120 mm and heights of 22, 42 and 52 mm. Profiles have integral guide grooves for PC Boards and recessed areas for front membranes or membrane keypads. For flexibility, the plastic end lids are offered with or without wall brackets. The standard IP 40 rating can be increased to IP 54 on some models by adding special seal kits and end lids. For more information on Rose & Bopla Bos-Ecoline enclosures.