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How To Specify Customized Metal Electronic Enclosures

Customized enclosures

October 2019

Electronic enclosures manufactured from folded aluminum have a significant advantage over their plastic and diecast counterparts when it comes to customization – much lower tooling costs. No full housing molds or dies are used…so standard aluminum 19” rack cases and instrument enclosures can be customized in much lower volumes.

This is particularly important for desktop instrumentation which tends to be produced in smaller quantities. It makes modifying a standard enclosure the go-to option for designers of electronic instrumentation because it is faster and more cost effective than creating a fully bespoke housing from the start (although this is always an option – particularly if you take advantage of METCASE’s dedicated prototyping service).

Why Dealing Direct With Enclosure Manufacturers Is Best

When designing a new product, it is always best to consider the enclosure as early in the process as possible. It may seem counter-intuitive but it is better to specify the enclosure size before the PCB. That is because the enclosure will dictate the size of the PCB and play an important role in helping to determine component location. Specify the PCB first and you risk missing out on cost savings…you may end up selecting a 19” rack case or metal desktop enclosure that is larger than you really need. Other suppliers, such as Distributors may not tell you information like this. They may simply sell you the enclosure you initially ask for – without digging deeper to check whether it’s the case you really need, or whether another solution may be better.

It is always better to deal directly with a dedicated enclosures manufacturer – because you get to speak directly with specialist enclosure engineers who can give you expert technical advice on the enclosures that they helped to design and work on every day. But not all enclosure manufacturers are the same. They all offer CNC machining, custom front panels, fixings and inserts – that is an absolute given. But what sets a specialist enclosure manufacturer like METCASE apart is our ability to deliver the full range of customization services under one roof (and all our support).

Get The Best Start – Watch Our Enclosure Videos First

Specifying a great customized enclosure starts with selecting the right standard enclosure for your needs; one that fulfils all your technical requirements in terms of ergonomics, ease of component access, aesthetics and ease of installation. And that process is so much easier on the METCASE website because there is an exploded view video for every model that we offer…so you can see how easy it is to remove panels, to install PCBs and to fit the case into a rack. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

Download 3D Models, See How Your Customized Enclosure Will Look

Every enclosure on our website features downloadable 3D models/drawings so you can see how your completed enclosure will look with all your components inside. You’ll need to register for 3D models first – this will give you access to our full range of X_T, STP and SAT files. Download the PDFs too; these PDFs are available to everyone – you don’t need to register for them.

CNC punching and machining

Specify CNC Machining The Easy Way

Every manufacturer might offer CNC machining but do they offer the full range of services like METCASE? And do they make it as quick and easy to specify as we do? Specifying machining has never been simpler because you can now add materials, finishes and cutouts to your order list as if they were products. Find out more about it here.

Our CNC machining service includes:

  • punching – holes, slots, half-shears, dimples, burst holes and vent louvres
  • folding – corners, tabs, flanges, Dutch folds and joggles
  • fixings, inserts and linishing
  • milling, drilling and tapping – holes and slots for connectors, switches, displays, fans.

We work to your specifications and drawings to a tolerance of +/- 0.1 mm for cut-outs, recessed areas, holes for lengths up to 30 mm and +/- 0.15 mm for lengths up to 120 mm. The minimum corner radius is 1 mm.

Inserts and fixings

How To Specify Fixings And Inserts

It couldn’t be easier to specify fixing studs, standoffs, self-clinch nuts, right angle panel nuts and cable tie mounts. Simply add them to your order list as individual product codes (just like the cutouts listed above in the CNC machining section). Each fixing listed on the website features an ‘i’ information icon giving full details of thread sizes (M2, M3 etc), lengths (mm) and mounting hole diameters (Ø mm). And once again, we have an easy guide to take you through the process. Find out more here.

Custom colors

Specify Metal Enclosures In Custom Colors

There’s a perception (or rather misconception) that it costs more to specify an enclosure in a custom color, simpIy because it isn’t in the typical standard shades of light gray (RAL 7035) or black (RAL 9005). Nothing could be further from the truth – we keep a large range of ‘always in stock’ custom colors in polyester powder paints and tough chip-resistant wet paints. And (rather like fixings, inserts and CNC machining), you specify the colors simply by adding them to your list as if they were a product.

Options also include nickel-loaded RFI/EMI shielding (for plastic parts), blemish-free linishing, natural and color anodizing, Interlox 338 anti-corrosion finish, zinc and clear passivates. But this is just the start – full color CMYK photo-quality digital printing enables you to take legends, logos and branding to another level…

Digital printing service

Get The Best From Digital Printing

Digital printing – by its very nature – is so much easier to set up than the traditional screen and tampo methods. And there is very little waste. These factors make it viable for low volume orders and perfect for niche application instrument enclosures. And digital printing is not just for tiny legends and logos. Specify printing in 1,800 x 1,800 dpi quality up to a size of 23.6" x 16.5". Or print on to enclosures up to 5.9" in height.

The size of our flatbed printer enables us to create a large number of product labels at once. This – combined with UV LED curing and simultaneous printing of color and white – speeds up the whole process, so you can get your finished products to market much faster. Digital printing is ideal for customised front panels. Simply send us your digital files and we will do the rest. Our preferred formats are vector PDF, EPS, AI (Adobe Illustrator) DXF and DWG files – but we also accept PSD, JPG, TIFF and other image file types. Find out more here.

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