Electronics > Mechanical & Automation Engineering

Best tool for cutting off a plastic-flange chunk from inside an enclosure?

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Martin F:
Hi all,

I have a project in which I intend to use a specific IP67 DT enclosure. The aim is to enable insertion of our existing electronics product within the enclosure.

The dimensions of the enclosure are almost perfect for our need. However, it comes with two 'plastic flanges' that block our device from entering sufficiently deep into the enclosure. We ideally want our device to be able to go e.g. 1 cm further in, but this requires that we can cut off the 1st cm in each side flange as indicated in the 3D step below.

I am unsure what method/tool would enable us to do this in the simplest manner, while enabling a fairly consistent chunk to be cut off (i.e. ideally we'd want to be able to calibrate the tool somehow so that we can avoid cutting off too much or too little of the plastic, as we want our device to enter the enclosure by approximately +/- a few mm in precision.

The enclosure opening is 3 x 10 cm, while the flanges are about 3-5 cm in. We'll need about 100-500 of these per year, so we're looking for a solution that makes sense at this scale (it can involve some manual labor).

Ask any woodworker :-).  What you'd need is a jig that the case slides onto the end of and that fits a Dremel with a cutting blade, you slide the enclosure onto the jig which positions the Dremel blade at the correct height and depth, press down to make the cut, repeat for the other side, and you're done, with perfect repeatability each time.

A Dremel tool with a flex shaft attachment, the correct bit, and a person to do the job. Modding 100 to 500 a year is no problem at all.

Flex Shaft

The flanges appear to be attached to the side walls. The closer you need to cut to the side wall, the higher the risk of damage. Access is poor, so making two cuts, one parallel to the wall, and the other across is probably not viable, nor is there room to get a nibbler in there.  That leaves milling, grinding,  and hot knife cutting. 

Milling with a dremel or router style tool and a jig may be problematic as the feed rate is dependent on the skill of the operator.  Too coarse a feed is likely to result in excessive strain at the sidewall to  flange junction, possibly resulting in externally visible sidewall deformation or even cracking.  This is less of a problem for grinding operations, but the down-side is the need to clean-up fine, probably static charged plastic dust. 

Ideally you'd use a proper milling machine so the feed rate could be well controlled.

fixture to hold it with the opening up, use milling cutter in miling machine or drill press with depth stop


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