Industrial electronics are usually housed in stainless steel or diecast aluminium enclosures – but don’t overlook the opportunities offered by plastic.
Not every challenging environment calls for metal enclosures. Plastic is a viable and cost-effective option for some applications. These are the questions to consider when specifying plastic cases for light industrial electronics…
1. Will Your Electronics Be Used Indoors Or Outdoors?
Resilient and dependable ABS has for years been the plastic of choice for indoor use. It is tough and long-lasting – the dependable ‘go to’ plastic for electronics products destined to spend their lives indoors.
But for outdoor use you need ASA because it is UV-stable, able to withstand the harsh degrading effect of UV rays on some polymers. Various types of ASA are available. The ASA Luran blends in polycarbonate for added strength.
It’s also worth noting that not every ASA enclosure will spend its days outside. Robust ASA is increasingly superseding ABS as the plastic for indoor use too.
2. Will The Enclosures Be Installed In Difficult Locations Or Conditions?
Challenging applications call for innovative solutions. Look around any street or highway and you will see electronics mounted in difficult locations. This is when specialised pole-mounted enclosures such as technoPLUS are an absolute boon.
ROLEC technoPLUS (IP 66/67) was designed from day one for pole or mast electronics. The enclosure’s dedicated attachment (accessory) enables quick and easy mounting either vertically or horizontally.
Some challenging locations pose added risks to both the installer and the electronics they are trying to secure in place. Foul weather and exposed locations can make what should be a routine installation much more awkward.
Installing in an area with a high risk or water or dust ingress? Specify ‘lid closed installation’ as offered by ROLEC’s starCASE (IP 66). Separate channels for the mounting and lid screws ensure that seal integrity is maintained throughout the installation process. Furthermore, the screws are protected by non-detachable hinged plastic covers.
Installing at height? Specify enclosures with hinges or retainer straps to remove the worry of dropped lids. All four of ROLEC’s plastic enclosures – technoPLUS, starCASE, technoCASE and technoBOX offer this added reassurance. Tough technoPLUS, technoCASE and starCASE feature integrated lid retaining straps as standard; technoBOX and technoCASE offer external lid hinges as an accessory.
3. Single Or Separate Screw Channels?
Separate channels for mounting and lid screws enable ‘lid-closed’ installation (offering all the aforementioned protection benefits).
But what if you’re installing in easier conditions? In this case the alternative is to opt for single screw channels outside the main interior chamber. This configuration – as found in technoBOX (IP 66) plastic enclosures – maximises the amount of space available for your PCBs and connectors.
4. Do You Need A Wide Range Of Sizes?
If so then think about technoCASE (IP 66/67) plastic enclosures which are available in 25 sizes ranging from 80 x 80 x 60 mm to 360 x 240 x 160 mm.
Why so many sizes? That is down to the clever way that technoCASE was designed:
5. What About Security? Need Tamperproof Lids?
Some applications require security seals to deter tampering and to identify when unauthorised ingress has occurred. Before specifying enclosures, check their accessory ranges to see whether they offer optional anti-tamper seals.
Pole-mounted enclosures such as technoPLUS are less likely to need dedicated security kits because they are likely to be installed at height, out of harm’s way. But technoCASE – which is destined to be used nearer the ground – offers an anti-tamper seal kit as a standard accessory.
If your preferred enclosure does not have an anti-tamper seal kit as standard then it is worth asking if it could be supplied as a custom option. You may also wish to consider tamper-proof Torx lid screws as a custom feature.
6. Are Aesthetics A Major Consideration?
Industrial enclosures were previously the poor relation when it came to aesthetics. Manufacturers used to offer prosaic boxes that did little to flatter the products they housed. Basic boxes lacked the charm of enclosures aimed at the office or household consumer markets.
But then ROLEC changed all that with modern pioneering designs that concealed lid screws under smart clip-on trims. These covers also helped to protect the fittings from bad weather or other corrosion threats.
Add to that features such as ergonomic bevels (technoBOX) or contouring (starCASE) and it is now possible to make aesthetics a realistic consideration when specifying.
Aesthetics matter. They differentiate your products from lesser rivals. Good aesthetics can be very persuasive…
7. Are You On A Tight Budget?
Ask any electronics designer this question and the answer will inevitably be “yes” – but some industrial enclosures are more cost-effective than others.
Budget tends to be one of the main reasons that designers opt for plastic rather than diecast aluminium or stainless steel cases. There is no point over-engineering a product if metal is not required.
And once the decision has been made to go for plastic, it’s worth knowing which enclosures will result in the biggest savings.
For ROLEC that means technoBOX. By opting for ABS plastic, single channels and visible lid screws, you can reduce costs – without compromising on aesthetics.
|technoPLUS||66, 67||ASA Luran||Industrial electronics
|technoCASE||66, 67||ABS||Industrial electronics||Yes||Yes||25|
|starCASE||66||ASA Luran||Industrial electronics||Yes||Yes||8|
Need specialist technical help? Contact ROLEC for expert advice.