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'[EE] Suggestions for customizable enclosure'
2008\07\08@212139 by Vitaliy

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Following in the footsteps of the "overlay source" thread:

We are currently working on a project that needs an enclosure that is wider
than it is deep, about 8x6x1.75". The front and the back (8x1.75) will be
customized to fit knobs, switches, LEDs, pushbuttons and the like.
Questions:

- Is there a "standard" size that is close to our target (+/- 2" on the
width/depth)? We'd prefer to conform to some existing standard if possible.
- Where can such enclosures be bought?

The target quantity for this project is around 100 units initially, possibly
going up to 1000/quarter if the product is as successful as we hope it will
be.

Vitaliy

2008\07\08@213938 by Forrest W Christian

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I use Envision Plastics for most of these type of things...  The picture
with the legend on it was from Envision plastics as well.   See
envplastics.com

So far, its actually been cheaper than buying an off-the-shelf enclosure
and getting holes cut in them.

Make sure you tell them that I sent you their way...

-forrest

Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\07\08@214058 by Harold Hallikainen

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Are you looking for a plastic or metal enclosure? If metal, I'd probably
just have the whole thing custom made at your favoirtie CNC shop. Punching
metal after it's bent is a pain. If the cabinet is plastic, some come with
an area to insert a custom flat panel. That's what was done on the
original IQ512M at
www.dovesystems.com/index.php?page=shop.flypage&product_id=56&category_id=097cd77791c8f09d2dd8cfd880c21d0e&option=com_phpshop
.  However, the cabinet cost was still excessive, so it was redesigned to
be totally custom metal as seen at http://www.dovesystems.com/ .

Plastic box companies will often machine the box (making holes and slots)
as you require. We used a PacTec box for the BrailleMaster
http://www.dovesystems.com/ShowContent.php?page=braille . We had to order
500 pieces minimum. We carefully checked our drawings and got a first
article. Then 500 pieces showed up wrong (the box is not symmetrical, and
they must've put it in the jig backwards for production). So we returned
500 boxes and got 500 correct ones. That's probably why these things cost
so much!

Good luck!

Harold



--
FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com - Advertising
opportunities available!

2008\07\08@223303 by Ray Newman

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I get my custom made "METAL" boxes made in Thailand.

http://www.hacs.com/images/nab8ss.gif
http://www.hacs.com/ab8ss_top_metric.pdf
http://www.hacs.com/ab8ss_bot_metric.pdf
at 500 each cost $15.00 & $ 7.50 shipping (UPS air)
one time tooling for hole punches was about $300

In USA the same cost me before $55.00

If I did in plastic:
Tooling about $3,000
at 1,000 unit cost is about $6.00 & shipping $3.00 (UPS air)

Not as cheap as China but smaller quantities are accepted.


Ray




On Tue, 8 Jul 2008 18:20:03 -0700, Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}


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2008\07\09@012327 by Vitaliy

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Forrest W Christian wrote:
> I use Envision Plastics for most of these type of things...  The picture
> with the legend on it was from Envision plastics as well.   See
> envplastics.com
>
> So far, its actually been cheaper than buying an off-the-shelf enclosure
> and getting holes cut in them.

Really? I am intrigued!

We buy our enclosures from PacTec, and ship them to a small shop 3000 miles
away that drills them for us (with +/- 20 mil precision).

Although to be honest, I still have a hard time believing that it is cheaper
to build an enclosure from scratch, than to customize an off-the-shelf
enclosure. It looks so labor intensive...

> Make sure you tell them that I sent you their way...

Will do, thanks!

Vitaliy


2008\07\09@034647 by Forrest Christian

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Vitaliy wrote:
> Although to be honest, I still have a hard time believing that it is
> cheaper to build an enclosure from scratch, than to customize an
> off-the-shelf enclosure. It looks so labor intensive...
I was surprised too...    I suspect that a lot of it depends on how
picky you are about the enclosure, and how much the machining step costs
you.    Initially I needed a vented enclosure which were few and far
between, and quite expensive.   The envision plastics enclosure was
cheaper than any I could find, not even counting routing.

I would guess that the more common the type of enclosure you need is,
the less likely the "no molds" enclosures will be an economical
solution.  For us, we really only had one or two injection molded
enclosures to pick from, so it was a no brainer.

Also, don't discount the cost of specialized assembly in some cases for
the standard enclosures...  If you have to do funky stuff to make a
board work in a standard enclosure, and that reduces your yield, or
increases your manufacturing costs, then something like the envision
plastics enclosures make some sense.

That said, For some smaller items which are not as enclosure-picky,
we're working on getting a CNC router running here.  Initially we'll be
milling end-panels for enclosures which have removable end panels - I.E.
use the router to cut new end panels, with all the holes, out of raw
plastic sheet of the appropriate thickness.   These will mainly be for
low-volume, high dollar products which we can't really justify the small
but still present overhead of getting the initial work done on a custom
enclosure.

-forrest

2008\07\09@040347 by David P Harris

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Forrest Christian wrote:
> Vitaliy wrote:
>  
>> Although to be honest, I still have a hard time believing that it is
>> cheaper to build an enclosure from scratch, than to customize an
>> off-the-shelf enclosure. It looks so labor intensive...
>>    
> I was surprised too...    I suspect that a lot of it depends on how
> picky you are about the enclosure, and how much the machining step costs
> you.    Initially I needed a vented enclosure which were few and far
> between, and quite expensive.   The envision plastics enclosure was
> cheaper than any I could find, not even counting routing.
This is very interesting - can you give us a ballpark price for these
enclosures?

Thanks,
David


2008\07\09@042450 by Vitaliy

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Harold Hallikainen wrote:
> Are you looking for a plastic or metal enclosure?

Could use both, depending on the price. Plastic is lighter, and cheaper to
ship.

> If metal, I'd probably
> just have the whole thing custom made at your favoirtie CNC shop. Punching
> metal after it's bent is a pain.

>From experience, custom metal enclosures tend to be more expensive (even in
quantities of 1000) than comparably sized off-the-shelf plastic enclosures.

> If the cabinet is plastic, some come with
> an area to insert a custom flat panel. That's what was done on the
> original IQ512M at
> www.dovesystems.com/index.php?page=shop.flypage&product_id=56&category_id=097cd77791c8f09d2dd8cfd880c21d0e&option=com_phpshop
> .  However, the cabinet cost was still excessive, so it was redesigned to
> be totally custom metal as seen at http://www.dovesystems.com/ .

We are very flexible when it comes to size, and I expected the type of
enclosure we need (literally, shaped as a box) to be common. Something the
size of an external CD-ROM drive would be perfect (except we need the UI
elements to be on the long sides).

> Plastic box companies will often machine the box (making holes and slots)
> as you require. We used a PacTec box for the BrailleMaster
> http://www.dovesystems.com/ShowContent.php?page=braille . We had to order
> 500 pieces minimum. We carefully checked our drawings and got a first
> article. Then 500 pieces showed up wrong (the box is not symmetrical, and
> they must've put it in the jig backwards for production). So we returned
> 500 boxes and got 500 correct ones. That's probably why these things cost
> so much!

We found that using a third party company to drill the holes is a lot more
cost efficient, even after you figure in the shipping & handling costs.

One thing I don't like about PacTec is the quality of their more popular
enclosures, it looks like they use their molds until they're completely worn
out, to the point where some halves (presumably from different molds) don't
fit together. But they are cheap.

Vitaliy

2008\07\09@043830 by Alan B. Pearce

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>The front and the back (8x1.75) will be customized to fit knobs,
>switches, LEDs, pushbuttons and the like.
>Questions:
>
>- Is there a "standard" size that is close to our target (+/- 2"
>on the width/depth)?

This sounds very close to a half width 1U high rack panel. I don't know what
is available in such cases for this size, but (without knowing just what you
are making) it may be worth looking at doing it to fit rack mounting.

2008\07\09@051657 by Mohit Mahajan (Lists)

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Harold,

> We used a PacTec box for the BrailleMaster
What do you use for the keys?

Regards,
Mohit Mahajan.

2008\07\09@060300 by Ray Newman

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> If metal, I'd probably
> just have the whole thing custom made at your favoirtie CNC shop.
> Punching metal after it's bent is a pain.
Favorite CNC shop here in Buffalo NY is VERY expensive.
The best they could do for me was $30 @ 1,000 per year.


> From experience, custom metal enclosures tend to be more
> expensive (even in
> quantities of 1000) than comparably sized off-the-shelf plastic
> enclosures.
ANY rework will tend to cost more, even at larger quantities.

> If the cabinet is plastic, some come with
> an area to insert a custom flat panel. That's what was done on
> the original IQ512M at
> www.dovesystems.com/index.php?page=shop.flypage&product_id=56&c
> ategory_id=097cd77791c8f09d2dd8cfd880c21d0e&option=com_phpshop
> .  However, the cabinet cost was still excessive, so it was
> redesigned to be totally custom metal as seen at
http://www.dovesystems.com/ .
I agree

> We found that using a third party company to drill the holes is a
> lot more cost efficient, even after you figure in the shipping &
> handling costs.
I have NEVER found custom drilling/machining to be inexpensive!

I found the magic number for plastic is 1,000 pcs for first run but the number of slides for hidden cutouts does raise the tooling cost.
As long as all the holes are from top or bottom or on the mating edge, the plastic injection tooling cost for a single cavity can
be under $3,000. Then 1,000 pcs is half the cost of metal.

For home automation I find customers like metal enclosures better than plastic.
Power epoxy paint really looks nice.

Ray






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2008\07\09@071532 by olin piclist

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Vitaliy wrote:
> - Is there a "standard" size that is close to our target (+/- 2" on
> the width/depth)?

Not really.  There are a lot of box companies, and they make a wide variety
of stuff often unrelated to each other.

> - Where can such enclosures be bought?

There are many companies that specialize in enclosures.  Pactec, OKW,
Unibox, just to name 3 that popped into my head.  Each has their own style.

I found Pactec a pain to work with, but Unibox in San Luis Obispo CA has
been great.  You call and a real person answers the phone, is willing to
talk you thru the process if you're not familiar with it, and they get
things done quickly and for a reasonable price.  I had them make custom
cutouts and silkscreen of one of their standard boxes for a customer that
wanted a bunch of USBProgs for field use.  You can see the pictures at
http://www.embedinc.com/products/usbprog2.  If you call Unibox
(http://www.uniboxinfo.com (800) 814-8667) tell Miki I sent you (No, I'm not
getting any kickbacks).

2008\07\09@072721 by olin piclist

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Vitaliy wrote:
> Forrest W Christian wrote:
>> So far, its actually been cheaper than buying an off-the-shelf
>> enclosure and getting holes cut in them.
>
> Really? I am intrigued!

And I'm skeptical.  Forrest, care to show us a example and give us a
ballpark price?

2008\07\09@073246 by Alan B. Pearce

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>> Although to be honest, I still have a hard time believing that it is
>> cheaper to build an enclosure from scratch, than to customize an
>> off-the-shelf enclosure. It looks so labor intensive...
>
>I was surprised too...    I suspect that a lot of it depends on how
>picky you are about the enclosure, and how much the machining step costs
>you.    Initially I needed a vented enclosure which were few and far
>between, and quite expensive.   The envision plastics enclosure was
>cheaper than any I could find, not even counting routing.

Hmm, wouldn't mind finding someone that does this in the UK. same method as
folding up metal, just using plastic, then bonding the bends they have
milled instead of welding.

Quick Google for 'no molding no tooling' brought up another similar company.

http://www.toolless.com/ again in USA.

Looks like that might be it, none in the UK.

2008\07\09@214932 by Vitaliy

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>> - Is there a "standard" size that is close to our target (+/- 2" on
>> the width/depth)?
>
> Not really.  There are a lot of box companies, and they make a wide
> variety
> of stuff often unrelated to each other.

I was thinking along the lines of "rack mountable" (as Alan has suggested),
but 9.5" is too wide. This product would benefit from being stackable.

{Quote hidden}

I looked on their website, and didn't see any enclosures close to the size
we need. Most enclosures tend to be longer than they are wide (we need the
opposite).

Got a bunch of enclosure samples from Digikey today (aluminum & plastic),
and ordered three enclosures from PacTec (hopefully they'll be here by
Friday).

We're contemplating whether to build everything on one PCB, or to use two
PCBs -- one "base board" and one "front panel PCB" for the pots/buttons/leds
plugged at a right angle into the base board. Option #2 sounds more costly,
but is also more flexible. Any thoughts?

Vitaliy

2008\07\09@220940 by Forrest W. Christian

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
> Vitaliy wrote:
>  
>> Forrest W Christian wrote:
>>    
>>> So far, its actually been cheaper than buying an off-the-shelf
>>> enclosure and getting holes cut in them.
>>>      
>> Really? I am intrigued!
>>    
>
> And I'm skeptical.  Forrest, care to show us a example and give us a
> ballpark price?
>
>  
http://www.packetflux.com/images/revcsi.jpg runs me about $8.50, shipped
to my location, at qty 250.  They come non-silk-screened - and I add the
white label shown.   I think the First-Time NRE was around $300.  
Looking at my recent pricing sheet, these are only around $11.50 at Qty 50.

This enclosure is approximately 2.25" deep (the direction you can't
see),  6.75" wide and 1.5" tall.  In addition to the holes you see,
there are also two deck-screw sized keyholes on the bottom.

The enclosure uses no screws.   It simply snaps together.  As well, the
circuit board snaps into grooves inside the housing, eliminating the
need for screwing the board in.   Once we have a board ready to go in
the housing, it takes about 5 seconds to snap it into place and snap the
cover on.

This particular enclosure needs to be no higher than 1.7" or so, so it
will fit in a 1U rack space (1.6 or less is even better).    This limits
my options since I also have quite a bit of connector height.  Like I
mentioned before, If the off the shelf options matched my needs a little
closer, I suspect the OTS modification would be less, but in my case, I
end up with an expensive enclosure to start with.

-forrest

2008\07\10@080530 by olin piclist

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Forrest W. Christian wrote:
> http://www.packetflux.com/images/revcsi.jpg runs me about $8.50,
> shipped to my location, at qty 250.  They come non-silk-screened -
> and I add the white label shown.   I think the First-Time NRE was
> around $300.
> Looking at my recent pricing sheet, these are only around $11.50 at
> Qty 50.
>
> This enclosure is approximately 2.25" deep (the direction you can't
> see),  6.75" wide and 1.5" tall.  In addition to the holes you see,
> there are also two deck-screw sized keyholes on the bottom.

Not bad at all.  I wasn't aware this process could get down to these costs.

********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2008\07\10@182352 by Vitaliy

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> Forrest W. Christian wrote:
>> http://www.packetflux.com/images/revcsi.jpg runs me about $8.50,
>> shipped to my location, at qty 250.  They come non-silk-screened -
>> and I add the white label shown.   I think the First-Time NRE was
>> around $300.
>> Looking at my recent pricing sheet, these are only around $11.50 at
>> Qty 50.
>>
>> This enclosure is approximately 2.25" deep (the direction you can't
>> see),  6.75" wide and 1.5" tall.  In addition to the holes you see,
>> there are also two deck-screw sized keyholes on the bottom.
>
> Not bad at all.  I wasn't aware this process could get down to these
> costs.

Yes, that is very cheap. Forrest, if you dont' feel comfortable disclosing
your vendor on-list, perhaps you could consider sending me a private
message?

We used to buy our metal enclosures from Canada (Protocase.com):

http://tinyurl.com/5cynct

They eventually doubled the price, and increased the lead time to 3 months.
Since they specialize in small quantities, I guess they weren't able to keep
up with the hundreds of units we were requiring. We also manufactured these
inclosures using a local manufacturer, but the cost was still too high,
especially compared to the plastic enclosures our competition was switching
to.

Attempts to outsource production to China were unsuccessful: the quality was
poor to begin with, and a few months later the paint started peeling off the
sample, revealing rusted sheet metal.

Vitaliy

2008\07\10@190749 by Marcel Duchamp

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Vitaliy wrote:
>
> Yes, that is very cheap. Forrest, if you dont' feel comfortable disclosing
> your vendor on-list, perhaps you could consider sending me a private
> message?
>

He already did but you probably missed it like I did.  I saved the
messages though because this looked interesting:
       
"
I use Envision Plastics for most of these type of things...  The picture
with the legend on it was from Envision plastics as well.   See
envplastics.com
"

2008\07\10@212915 by Forrest W. Christian

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And, please feel free to mention that I sent you :)

-forrest

Marcel Duchamp wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\07\11@172453 by Vitaliy

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Marcel Duchamp wrote:
>> Yes, that is very cheap. Forrest, if you dont' feel comfortable
>> disclosing
>> your vendor on-list, perhaps you could consider sending me a private
>> message?
>>
>
> He already did but you probably missed it like I did.  I saved the
> messages though because this looked interesting:
>
> "
> I use Envision Plastics for most of these type of things...  The picture
> with the legend on it was from Envision plastics as well.   See
> envplastics.com
> "

Sorry, I got confused. For some reason, I thought Forrest was talking about
metal enclosures.

Still, envplastic.com is worth investigating! :)

Vitaliy

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