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Semi-bespoke enclosures for instrumentation



It’s very easy to specify the ideal aluminum enclosure for your electronics – even if you want something a little more unusual. And far from being costly, a housing that’s a little more rarefied can actually save you money in the long run. But we’ll get to that in due course…

Generally speaking, there are two ways to order a non-standard enclosure from METCASE. The first is to specify an off-the-shelf enclosure which we can then customise for you. It doesn’t take many subtle tweaks to create a housing that’s unique to your product (even though the enclosure started life as a standard model). This is by far the most popular option because the latest CNC machining and digital printing technology makes modifications so quick and cost-effective – even for low volumes.

Option two is to go for a fully bespoke housing. This usually costs more than the customization route because it tends to involve more design work. Not always though: a simple bespoke enclosure could prove even more cost-effective than modifying a standard model. Here are some examples of that.

But there is also a third way – a semi-bespoke enclosure. This is very unusual indeed. We don’t get many requests for these (yet) but we suspect that you’ll be intrigued once you’ve discovered the benefits. Here is a rare example of one such ‘hybrid’ enclosure…


Semi-bespoke enclosures for instrumentation



Cambridge Sensotec is at the forefront of gas analysis solutions. We enjoy a long and happy partnership with these global innovators, manufacturing elegant and robust aluminum enclosures for a wide range of their products.

The St Ives firm specified a UNIMET-PLUS desktop instrument enclosure for its Rapidox gas analysers. It’s a great choice: the standard UNIMET-PLUS is a more advanced version of our popular UNIMET enclosures.

Unlike its UNIMET progenitor, UNIMET-PLUS has:

  • diecast bezels at both front and rear (UNIMET has a front bezel)
  • internal chassis plates at the sides (UNIMET doesn’t have these)
  • four snap-in guide rails – PCBs just slide in (UNIMET has PCB mounting pillars).

But Cambridge Sensotec wanted a combination of the technical features from both UNIMET and UNIMET-PLUS. The result was a semi-bespoke ‘hybrid’ enclosure that looks great and performs well…but is more cost-effective to manufacture than UNIMET-PLUS.


Semi-bespoke enclosures for instrumentation



Or more to the point, what makes it a hybrid, rather than simply a standardized model with a lot of customization? The answer lies in one word: ‘design’. That’s because creating this enclosure required much more than simple machining, but it stops short of being a fully bespoke enclosure. It is – as we have discussed – a true hybrid.

 At first glance, you may think this enclosure is based on a UNIMET because it has a bezel at the front but not at the rear. However, it’s most definitely a UNIMET-PLUS (because there are chassis plates inside) but the rear has been significantly redesigned.

The rear is bezel-less – just like a UNIMET enclosure – but it’s not the same as UNIMET. Specifically, the folds in the aluminum are 90° – rather than UNIMET’S 180° – to create a more pronounced ‘frame’ effect about three sides. Opting for the UNIMET-style rear means that once the four rear screws have been removed, the rear panel can be left pretty much in situ when the U-shaped top is removed.

And the hybrid UNIMET is different inside too. Yes, it has the internal chassis plates of UNIMET-PLUS, but they have been machined to allow warm air to flow out through the custom ‘wraparound’ ventilation slots in the sides and top. There are none of the PCB guide rails standard to UNIMET-PLUS – and no holes in the custom chassis plates in which to clip them. Instead, the hybrid UNIMET has PCB mounting pillars.

On top, the bespoke carrying handle is screwed in place via custom drilled and tapped mounting holes. The handle is not from the usual range of accessories for either UNIMET or UNIMET-PLUS. Carry handles are available as accessories for both these standard models but they are of the more complex tilt/swivel variety that doubles as an adjustable desk stand for easier viewing and operation.

From there, customization takes over from bespoke design. It’s simply a matter of adding machined front and rear panels. There are:

  • apertures for a switch, fan, interfaces and connectors
  • legends, logo and graphics
  • a display, and a membrane keypad

Supporting the case are round black feet, rather than the usual light gray (RAL 7035) rectangular case feet (accessory).


Semi-bespoke enclosures for instrumentation



It may seem from reading all of the above that this semi-bespoke case is the result of a major redesign but actually much of it is still standard. The biggest changes have been the rear and the chassis plates. But the rest is still very much UNIMET/UNIMET-PLUS.

That is important because it shows how simply customizing the front and rear panels can completely transform the look of a housing. After all, the hybrid enclosure is still in the standard light gray (RAL 7035)/window gray (RAL 7040) color scheme. It’s the elegant light blue/dark blue front panel with its smart white lettering that delivers the branding message.

You can achieve a great deal simply by customizing an enclosure’s front and rear panels. After that, the next option is to add highlights by specifying different colors for the bezel(s) – or for the trims in the case of our advanced TECHNOMET and TECHNOMET 19” enclosures.

Yes, specifying a custom color for the main case is an easy option – and it costs no more if you opt for an ‘always in stock’ shade. But you may not need to do so: you’d be surprised by how few colour changes are needed to make a finished enclosure unique to your product.

View our full range of customization services >>




Discover the best ways to specify standard, customized and bespoke aluminum enclosures for your electronics. Contact us now for expert advice and great enclosure design ideas.