Taking the right approach to plastic enclosures

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Courtesy of FIBOX Enclosures

Standard enclosures do not remain standard for long. In no time, engineers put holes, cutouts, and recesses into pristine boxes. This process is necessary to make the enclosure functional. There are connections to be wired, switches to mount, and readouts to view. Every design is different and every application unique. All applications seem to require customizing the enclosure.

Plastic enclosures, prized for their ability to survive hostile environments, are easily modified, making plastic a good choice for smaller volume OEMs. But the growing need for more complex modifications — beyond simple holes — is now forcing OEMs to outsource their customization work, thereby increasing their costs.

Seeking to solve this problem, progressive enclosure manufacturers are offering full customization services. Complex machining is now easily accomplished with new, high-speed computer controlled machines, specifically constructed for machining plastic enclosures.

Over the last few years, the cost of these machines has dropped significantly, while their capabilities have increased dramatically. This equipment enables enclosure manufacturers to offer costeffective customization services for even small runs of modified enclosures. Holes, slots, cutouts, milled recesses, and more are all possible, quickly and at a reasonable cost.

So how does the design engineer begin to deal with the variety of plastic enclosures and the impact of customizing on each? What factors impact cost? How can the engineer design for lowest cost? What documentation should the designer be prepared to provide the manufacturer? What happens when unit volumes become really large?

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