Given an all-encompassing presence of electronics in our everyday lives, it will hardly be an exaggeration to say that we are currently living in an ‘electrosphere’. Be it consumer electronics, home appliances, or high-tech IT and telecom products, they tend to shape our socio-cultural experience in our everyday lives. With these devices and appliances becoming an integral part of our lives – not just in our homes, but in campuses, workplaces, hospitals, restaurants, and other public places – external appearance of such products have become an important part of product designing. Today it has become important for designers to use electronic enclosures that are not only functional but aesthetically pleasing as well. Thus unlike their yesteryear’s counterparts today’s devices are equipped with enclosures that give them a smart look and feel.
An enclosure is nothing but an outer shell, designed to house and protect different components of an electronic device. From computers to remote controls, all types of electronic items have an enclosure of some type. A wide array of different enclosures is available to match the different sizes and types of products. That’s one of the reasons why it’s never too hard to find a suitable solution for a specific device or appliance. Although electronic enclosures are generally made of plastic and metal, each type is created to meet different purposes. These specially created packages follow the standards stipulated by the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association. The NEMA-rated enclosures are believed to be the safest of the lot. Here are some of the different types of enclosures that are available today:
These types of enclosures are typically used to house components in lights, switches and dials. They are generally mounted on an incline between 30 and 60 degrees. Apart from plastic, console enclosures can be made of a variety of metals, such as aluminum. You can use them for both wall-mounted and desktop products. The ones with recessed tops help mount membrane keyboards. The ones that come with flat sections toward the rear are generally used to mount stitches and connectors.
Console enclosures are similar to desktop enclosures in terms of material and functions. One of the basic difference between desktop and console enclosure is that the latter is meant to be placed on the user’s desk. These enclosures house different types of controls including display screens, pushbuttons, keys, and instrument controls.
General Purpose Enclosures
Made from any number of different types of material, including steel and plastic, general purpose enclosures are designed to support and protect wall mountable electronic units. Coming complete with lock options, they can be accessed only by authorized users. These users enjoy access to the electronic controls and instruments beneath the enclosure. When they are small in size, they are called junction boxes, and these small cases are created to serve a number of different purposes.
Generally made from steel or tin, these types of enclosures help shield sensitive electronic components from electromagnetic and radio frequency interferences. Their shielding effectiveness depends on the type of material. First decide on the kind of shielding your product needs and then choose an enclosure that can fulfill your product’s shielding requirements.
Single Drive Enclosures
Generally made of metal or plastic, these enclosures are mostly used on computers. They can hold only one drive – a fact that justifies its name. These types of enclosures usually have a slot for a single USB connection. These enclosures are commonly used to protect devices such as hard drives and optical drives. They are generally compatible with many different types of drives for Windows and Mac. Some of these enclosures come equipped with special features. For example, some products are fitted with LED lights, which are designed to let the user know whether it is working or not.
Development Board Enclosures
These specialized enclosures are created to hold and protect development boards. Available in a variety of sizes, they are compatible with most of the popular brands in use today. You can choose from a variety of styles and colors. Apart from the basic black and white, some of the products are available in eye-catching hues such as semi-translucent blue. Their rectangular shape enables them to conform to the board. These electronic cases are mostly made of ABS plastic – a material known for its high quality and sturdiness. These cases accommodate LEDs, controls, and connectors.
These enclosures are used for all electronic devices that we hold in the hand, and that may include anything from remote controls to potting boxes. They are also used to hold small printed circuit boards and many other types of hand-held instruments. They are mostly built with high quality ABS plastic, but other types of material are also used when it comes to addressing specific needs. Some are compatible with membrane keypads, allowing for the addition of unique controllers for different purposes.
Floor Standing Enclosures
These are quite large units, meant for housing the entire racks of electronics and instruments. The electronic components are snugly fitted within the case, which helps to save floor space. The locking system ensures that no unauthorized person can accidentally open the doors. While buying a large unit, people should check out the features and also make sure that they are stable and safe. These enclosures are used to house fans, filter units, mounting panels, handles and cables.
When it comes to selecting an enclosure for your product, choices have increased exponentially, and it is not easy to choose among so many different types. Shapes, sizes, material type and some other attributes can significantly affect an enclosure’s performance. Selecting the right unit is therefore extremely crucial. Now that you have come to know about different types of enclosures, it will be easier for you to choose the right thing for your application. And yes, don’ forget the aesthetics in the process – make sure your device has just the right packaging, so that it meets the aesthetic requirement of the targeted consumer segment. If you are looking for electronic enclosures that will minimize the crosstalk between the various circuits or with the outer environment, it is better to take a closer look at the design. Consult with an expert to make the appropriate choice.