Which Metal Handheld Enclosure For My Industrial Electronics?

Handheld enclosures for industrial electronics

Handheld enclosures tend to be associated with soft-contoured plastics…but heavy industrial environments call for something much tougher. Metal is the obvious choice, and it need not mean sacrificing ergonomics. You’d be surprised how comfortable a well-designed metal enclosure can feel – even when the device is being held for long periods of time.

Controllers housed in metal casings get used just as much as those in plastic enclosures. So they still have to be light and easy on the fingers – but much more robust. It’s always a fine balancing act between strength and lightness. But striking that perfect balance need not mean compromising on technical features. Here’s how to specify the best handheld enclosures for your industrial electronics…

Diecast and extruded handheld enclosures

Diecast vs Extruded Metal Handheld Enclosures

There are three main ways to manufacture a metal enclosure. You can fabricate it from folded sheet metal – but that means lots of welding to ensure the seams don’t leak. And that’s fine for very tough stainless steel enclosures with angular construction. All those right angles are excellent for maximizing space…but not so comfy if those enclosures need to be held in the hand.

So that leaves us with the other two methods – diecast vs extruded. Both offer their own technical benefits:

  • Diecast aluminum handheld enclosures such as handCASE offer the opportunity of superior ergonomics simply because it’s easier to cast complex curves than it is to extrude them. Curves on extruded enclosures will always be very profile-based because of the nature of the process. You’re going to get a two-dimensional X-Y curve multiplied by the length of Z.
  • Extruded aluminum enclosures such as mobilCASE are easier to customize – but only in terms of length. You can’t change the width and height of an individual profile without retooling, but you can specify your extruded housing in a custom length very easily. And because the enclosures are profile-based, they tend to be available in more standard sizes and configurations than their diecast counterparts.
Sealed handheld enclosures

How Much Ingress Protection?

IP rating could be the ultimate decider or dealbreaker when it comes to choosing your preferred handheld enclosure. If your handheld controller will be operating machinery in a very wet environment then a low IP rating may rule out certain enclosure models.

ROLEC’s handheld enclosures can all be specified with an IP 6X rating:

  • handCASE (IP 66, IP 67) – any IP 6X enclosure offers complete protection against dust ingress. IP 66 provides protection against temporary flooding (as in heavy seas). IP 67 offers protection against immersion (depth 150 mm to 1,000 mm, for up to 30 minutes).
  • mobilCASE (IP 54, IP 65) – IP 54 doesn’t offer complete protection against ingress of dust. But any dust that does get in must not impair the functioning of the device. IP 54 protects the device from water splashing from any direction. IP 65 offers complete protection against dust and limited protection against water jets.

For more information on ingress protection, view this page and click the tab ‘IP Ratings Explained’. For more information on the differences between IP and NEMA ratings, read this blog post.

ROLEC handCASE enclosures

Which Version Of handCASE Do I Need?

There are two versions of handCASE. Both of them:

  • offer solid protection for the electronics under extreme conditions
  • are comfortable to hold
  • can be specified with an optional battery compartment (AA or 9 V)
  • have threaded screw bosses inside for installing PCBs and mounting plates.

Version S and Version R are available in the same four sizes (7.08" x 3.14" x 1.66" to 8.66" x 3.93" x 2.45") but the lids are different. Version S has a slight T-shape to the lid – the recessed area tapers slightly with an ergonomic bevel to provide added comfort; Version R’s lid has a larger recessed area with a narrow edge for optimal use of the surface.

ROLEC mobilCASE handheld enclosures

Which Version Of mobilCASE Do I Need?

Like handCASE, extruded mobilCASE is also available in two versions:

  • Type 1 (IP 65) is manufactured from a single profile. PCBs slide and out.
  • Type 2 (IP 54) is based on a two-part profile. This enables keypads and displays to pass through the top when it has been machined.

But unlike handCASE, mobilCASE is available in many more standard sizes, based on three PCB widths: 80, 100 and 130 mm. Together, the two types offer 12 standard sizes – and remember, custom-length mobilCASE enclosures are very easy to manufacture. Specify your ideal custom length using this configurator.

There is also a choice of six end cover kits which include an M16 screw plug for battery compartment access and an adjustable tilt stand. Accessories include a shoulder strap with two protective end caps; a case holder for storing the unit on a wall of machine; an M16 cable gland adapter kit (this replaces the screw plug on deep end covers).

Customised handheld enclosures

Specifying Customized Metal Handheld Enclosures

All ROLEC enclosures can be supplied fully customized – ready for your electronics. Services include CNC machining, engraving and laser processing; powder coating and wet painting; photo-quality digital printing of legends, logos and graphics; RFI/EMI shielding; membrane keypads and assembly.

Get Expert Technical Advice

Contact the experienced team at ROLEC for expert advice on specifying the best handheld enclosures for your industrial electronics devices.

View ROLEC handheld enclosures >>

Write us an email

or use our
contact form