So you just finished designing and prototyping your embedded device. The journey does not end here yet. It is of at most importance that the next step would be where you would store your PCB hardware. Most PCBs are stored in what is called an “enclosure.” Let us explore some ways to design an enclosure.
There are many types of enclosures that can be used. Custom made vs Off-the-Shelve. Let’s talk about both here.
Custom Made Enclosures
Might be the best and only option for certain PCB designs that require special care. Any mechanical devices, medical, special movements, very specific size and materials, etc.
You should design the enclosure fully in a 3-D CAD software, I recommend SolidWorks just because I have worked with them many times and their software is super user friendly and fast to learn.
Prototype the enclosure by sending it to a 3-D FDM house to be 3-D printed. Use the cheapest possible option here that way you only get the functionality and be sure all fitments are viable.
The pros here are that you have complete freedom, beside the fact that you should consider DFM (Design for Maneuverability) when ready to send to mass production.
The cons though is the price tag associated with this approach. I can tell you for sure that most engineers will stop here since they would go above their budget and break the bank if they were to design their own custom enclosure. Do not forget to consider the injection molding if you are making a plastic enclosure.
So what is the alternative here? Read on!
My favorite kind. Most cost effective and easy to integrate. Especially if you do not want to hire a Mechanical engineer just to design an enclosure and to test it. That by itself is huge savings.
Check this vendor out – https://www.polycase.com/
They are my favorite. I DO NOT get paid to advertise or anything but I do have direct experience working with their products and I love them. They work perfectly according to their specs and they have so many options at prices that will blow your mind.
Pros you have the ability to stay within or even lower than budget. There are also plenty of provided CAD files for you to use and test so no need to spend time designing your own. You could also easily purchase one to test it out, they also sometimes would be able to make custom cuts for you as well. With all those services and you are still well below the cost of custom making your own enclosure.
Cons would be the highest is flexibility. You are not able to easily change designs and/or have a design that works around your PCB. It would have to be the other way around where your PCB need to work for their enclosures. Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find what you are looking for and spend some time researching since most of the time you will have to do some mix and matching to get to your requirements.
Now get on with your enclosure design and as always we are ready to help anytime!