Author Topic: Custom plastic enclosure options  (Read 1258 times)

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Offline MagicSmoker

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Custom plastic enclosure options
« on: March 21, 2017, 05:02:39 AM »
I need a few different custom plastic enclosures designed and made for some oddball gadgets I want to produce as a side project but I personally lack the skills or software to do this myself. All of the gadgets are likely to be low volume (20-200 pieces per year) but not terribly price sensitive (I don't need injected molded in China prices, in other words).

I am open to farming out the 3D cad drawing and, possibly, getting single prototypes made with a 3D printer to a plucky maker type, but for the purposes of this thread I am interested in hearing others' experiences with any of the many custom electronics enclosure businesses that advertise on the web. E.g. - ClicFold, Toolless Plastic Enclosures, Polycase, etc.


 

Offline Romain

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 06:33:06 AM »
Have you considered off-the-shelf enclosures with customization? (such as milling, overlays, screening etc).

I'm waiting for my first samples from Takachi Enclosure! Will let you know when get them  :D
 

Offline MagicSmoker

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 07:08:54 AM »
Two of the gadgets are handheld (a UV light and a non-contact current probe) and another is a backpack power inverter for operating lawn equipment, so I'm not likely to find anything off the shelf that can be customized (except, perhaps, for the non-contact probe).
 

Offline Kean

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 12:41:24 PM »
I worked for a short time at the Australian equivalent of http://www.toollessplasticenclosures.com/ as a designer/troubleshooter and making up prototypes.  It is a great technique for medium to large enclosures, but quite limited for smaller (handheld) ones.  It also can look a bit dated design wise as curves are tricky.  I see some pretty nice designs on the web gallery, but almost all are bench top or floor standing for high value (e.g. medical) devices.

As Romain mentioned, most OTS enclosure manufacturers (OKW, Hammond, etc) will do custom machining - which is great if they have a suitable enclosure to start with.

I often use 3D printed (FDM ABS) enclosures for various devices with specific form factors, such as animal trackers.  I typically do the model in Geomagic, but plan to move to Fusion 360.  After 3D printing we (my customer or I) coat the ABS with resin to provide extra strength and make it water tight.  Admittedly the animals aren't too fussy about quality of finish  :phew:

You can use a service like Shapeways or Protolabs to deliver those kinds of quantities with a production level (polished) finish in various materials.  Both services have really neat on-line analysis tools where you upload your 3D model and it does a manufacturability analysis, giving almost immediate feedback on any problems with your model.  I've had samples from Shapeways, and they're much more dimensionally accurate than my small 3D printer can manage, but I'm "restoring" a second hand 3D Systems Projet so I may be able to print much better resolution parts in-house soon.

For larger or more mechanically complex designs, I CNC parts out of sheet Aluminium, Acetal, HIPS, or Acrylic, and bend as needed.  I could outsource this, but most of these devices are made very small quantity (<5 per year), so I do practically all the assembly in-house myself.
 
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Offline MagicSmoker

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 09:52:33 PM »
I worked for a short time at the Australian equivalent of http://www.toollessplasticenclosures.com/ as a designer/troubleshooter and making up prototypes.  It is a great technique for medium to large enclosures, but quite limited for smaller (handheld) ones.  It also can look a bit dated design wise as curves are tricky.  I see some pretty nice designs on the web gallery, but almost all are bench top or floor standing for high value (e.g. medical) devices.

Yes, that was my impression of toolless as well, and the reason why I started this thread; it seemed like they might be able to make what I want until I looked at the gallery and saw that none of the examples were anything close to what I am looking for.

...
You can use a service like Shapeways or Protolabs to deliver those kinds of quantities with a production level (polished) finish in various materials.  Both services have really neat on-line analysis tools where you upload your 3D model and it does a manufacturability analysis, giving almost immediate feedback on any problems with your model.  I've had samples from Shapeways, and they're much more dimensionally accurate than my small 3D printer can manage, but I'm "restoring" a second hand 3D Systems Projet so I may be able to print much better resolution parts in-house soon.

I totally forgot about Shapeways, and it looks like a one-stop shop for me as it both hosts a community of designers as well as the 3D printing service. I envisioned using 3D printing for the prototypes, at least, and then maybe transitioning to some kind of molding process if volume warranted it. And Protolab does short-run injection molding, so those two suggestions appear to complement each other well.

 

Offline Kean

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 11:21:08 PM »
Also check out https://www.3dhubs.com/

Many of the hubs are just hobbyists looking to help others (or pay off their purchase), but if you search your local area you might find a hub that offers modelling services (& invoicing).  There are search filters for those services.
 
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Offline MagicSmoker

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2017, 01:35:19 AM »
Also check out https://www.3dhubs.com/

Many of the hubs are just hobbyists looking to help others (or pay off their purchase), but if you search your local area you might find a hub that offers modelling services (& invoicing).  There are search filters for those services.

Another excellent suggestion! There are several people near me with some pretty sophisticated hardware on 3dhubs. I just need to ferret out the ones that can also design the enclosures for me. Thanks again!

 

Offline ar__systems

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Re: Custom plastic enclosure options
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2017, 07:18:14 AM »
find some box from polycase.

They can make you holes and such as required. I use them for like 15 years
 


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