Enclosures Overview

Enclosures are types of devices used as protection and housing for a variety of different products and items, typically electronics. They can house pushbuttons, instruments, computers, components, and most other types of electronic devices such as remote controls. In fact, most of the electronics that people have around the workplace or at home have an enclosure of some type, and they are generally plastic.

Many types of electronic products that do not have an extraordinarily high demand will often not have those protective cases, which will mean end users will want to buy protective housings for them. This is also true of those who are DIY enthusiasts and building their own devices. Since there is such a wide array of different enclosures available in metal and plastic, and in different sizes, it should always be possible to find a solution that works.

Enclosures used for protecting computers are NEMA enclosures, named for the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association. The enclosures have NEMA ratings that determine the safety of the enclosure and the type of components and computers that can use it. It is important to look at many of the different types of console enclosures that are available today, as each different type of enclosure has a different purpose.

What Are Console Enclosures?

Console enclosures house electric components mounted on an incline between 30 and 60 degrees. Some of the most common examples of how people are using console enclosures are for mounting lights, switches, dials, and even keyboards. Again, the style of housing can vary, with some made from plastic and some from metal, such as aluminum. They can mount to the desktop or the wall, and some feature recessed tops, which is helpful for mounting membrane keyboards. They often have flat sections, generally toward the rear, which are useful for mounting stitches as well as connectors.

What Are Desktop Enclosures?

Desktop enclosures are similar to console enclosures, given the fact that they are made from the same materials and have similar functions. These consoles are generally on the user’s desk, thus the name. They can contain a variety of types of controls including pushbuttons, keyboards, display screens and instrument controls.

What Are Development Board Enclosures?

A development board enclosure is a specialized type of enclosure that will hold and protect, as the name suggests, development boards. The enclosures come in a variety of sizes so they can fit many of the most popular types of development boards in use today. They are generally rectangular to help conform to the board. The enclosures come in a number of styles and colors, including white, black, and a semi-translucent blue. The enclosures feature high quality, durable ABS plastic in many cases. Some of the cases have spaces for LEDs, controls, and connectors. The design makes them easy to use with a host of different types of board.

What Are DIN Rail Enclosures?

These specialized enclosures will fit right onto DIN rails to house and protect the electronics on them. One of the options popular with DIN rail enclosures is a plastic box that features two different parts that clip together and fit to the rail. Some DIN rail enclosures will feature fully insulated containers. This helps them to comply with some of the very stringent requirements of various industries, including the automotive and machinery industry. As with many types of enclosures, these are relatively easy to assemble. The low profile covers make them work easily with most systems, and they are easy to remove if needed.

What Are Floor Standing Enclosures?

Floor standing enclosures are large units that will house entire racks of electronics and instruments. They generally feature a metal enclosure and the body is usually just large enough to house the electronics without too much added room, which helps to save floor space. They often have a locking system so the doors stay closed so no one accidentally opens the doors. When people buy the larger units, they need to consider the construction to ensure they are stable and safe, and that they have the necessary features. Most of the best options on the market offer options for things such as mounting panels, handles, fans and filter units, and ways for getting cabling into the enclosure.

What Are General Purpose Enclosures?

A general purpose enclosure could be made from any number of different types of materials, including carbon steel, zinc coated steel, stainless steel, and plastic. Most of the options for the general purpose enclosures are for wall mountable units to protect electronic devices on the wall. They often feature lock options, so only certain individuals will have access to the electronic controls and instruments beneath the enclosure. Smaller general purpose enclosures are generally known as junction boxes, but these general purpose enclosures can serve a number of different purposes.

What Are Hand Held Enclosures?

Handheld enclosures are for those electronic devices that we hold in the hand. This could be something such as a remote control of some type, a unit for a small printed circuit board, or potting box, or nearly any type of handheld instrument. They generally feature high quality ABS plastic, but a wide range of different types and types are available to help suit a number of different needs. Some will work easily with membrane keypads, making it easy to develop unique controllers for different purposes.

What Are Instrument Cases?

Aluminum and plastic cases are available for many different types of instruments. The different sorts of enclosures can accommodate displays, switches, knobs, dials and more. The cases can be made of aluminum or another metal, or from high quality plastic, just as the other enclosures can. You can mount circuit boards into them with ease. Different types of instrument cases are available for different situations. Some are handheld and some are wall mounted, for example. Some can also accommodate membrane keyboards or pads. Again, the cases can be quite durable and rugged. While many are for indoor use, some of the cases can also work for outdoor usage.

What Are PCB Mounting Enclosures?

A PCB is a printed circuit board, and anyone who works in electronics knows that they need to make sure their boards are safe and protected. With PCB mounting enclosures, users can provide a housing for their devices that is aesthetically more pleasing than just the board. It also provides them with better quality protection for the board. There is less risk of external contaminants, as well as less of a danger of breaking or somehow damaging the board. The term can refer to many different types of enclosures and boxes, both plastic and aluminum and other metals, which allow for the protection of the board and interfacing with the equipment.

What Are Pedestals and Plinths?

Pedestals and plinths are devices that go onto the enclosures, generally on the bottom or behind them. They serve to lift the rack or enclosure off the floor. In some cases, they may also come with casters, which can make the unit easy to haul from one area to another. This can be helpful in labs, manufacturing facilities, and a number of other locations. The plinths and pedestals come in many varieties and sizes, so it is important to choose the one that will work appropriately with your unit or enclosure if you need them.

What Are Potting Boxes?

In electronics, potting refers to filling the electronic assembly with some type of material, often a solid or some type of gelatin compound, which will help it to resist vibration and shock. They can also help to keep out moisture and other things that could damage the electronics. Some circuit boards utilize these types of boxes today, while others may use conformal coating. Potting boxes are available in a variety of different sizes today, making them an ideal solution for protecting circuits of various sizes.

What Are Power Supply Cases?

The power supply is one of the most important elements of many different pieces of electronic assemblies, including computers. Without a working power supply, the electronics will not work, so it makes sense that one needs to provide an extra element of protection to them. Power supply cases, made from steel, aluminum, or high quality plastic, can help to protect the power supplies for many different types of products. They can protect from corrosion, abrasion, and more. Some of the options available can even help with heat extraction from the device so that it does not run the risk of overheating. Again, these come in different styles and sizes, so they are readily available for any situation where the user needs to enclose and keep a power supply safe.

What Are Shielding Enclosures?

These types of enclosures offer shielding from electromagnetic and radio frequencies at high and low levels. The shielding effectiveness of these enclosures varies based on the product, so it is important to know exactly what level of shielding your product needs in order to choose the right option. Many different versions are available, and they are generally made from steel or tin.

What Are Single Drive Enclosures?

Single drive enclosures, often used on computers, are generally metal or plastic, or a combination of both. They are able to hold one drive, thus the name, and will usually have a USB connection. The enclosures are for items such as hard drives and optical drives. Some of the assemblies will fit right into computer cases, while others are external drives. The enclosures can work with many different types of drives for Windows and Mac. Various enclosures may also have special features, such as LED lights that indicate activity within the drive to let the user know that it is on or working.

What Are Wall Boxes?

Wall boxes are enclosures that will affix directly to the wall and are for stationary electronic devices. They will usually offer entry points for cables thanks to a cable entry point that is usually on the back of the unit.  Many of the available units will also have a locking mechanism, which helps to ensure that no one who is not supposed to gain access to the electronics or instrument panel inside can tamper with it. They can work well for many different types of machinery and industrial needs. Most of the wall boxes will mount on the wall, but some may also work with pedestals and plinths, as well as DIN rails. It all depends on the type of box and model.

What Types of Enclosure Accessories Exist?

The preceding are the many different types of electronics enclosures on the market today. In addition to these enclosures there is a wide range of different accessories that you may need in order to have the enclosure work well for your specific purpose. Some of the most common types of accessories include perforated box plates for metal enclosures, DIN rail modules, mounting plates and rails, screws, doors, clamps, and locks. In addition, many of the devices require keypads, which are readily available in different sizes.

Whenever buying enclosures, it is always a good idea to check the various options for accessories to see what else might be necessary to make your unit perfect.

Which Products Are Needed for Enclosure Mounting and Installation?

When mounting and installing an enclosure, individuals may need to have a variety of different materials based on the type of enclosure they are using and where they might be using it. Some of the products necessary for most enclosures include mounting plates, brackets, mounting rails, and screws. Keep in mind that different types and sizes of enclosures may need to have different sized mounting plates, so research and choose the size that’s right for your enclosure. It is possible to find mounting kits that will come with all of the items you need in order to get the electronics safely mounted into the enclosure.

In addition to those products, it is important to have the right tools on hand. The job usually entails just a screwdriver and possibly a drill. Always listen to the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you are using the right tools for the job.