Envision Plastics Expert Announces Part Three in the Series: How to Design Plastic Enclosures Using NMR Technology

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NMR Technology (No Molds Required) is a technology Envision Plastics and Design uses to manufacture custom plastic electronic enclosures with no tooling or molds. Since it’s a unique plastic fabrication process, some forethought goes into the design criteria to make an economical plastic enclosure.

There are many ways to implement electronics into your plastic enclosure project using NMR Technology. Each way is custom and unique and there is always a way to do so – sometimes, it’s just a matter of cost.

Parts one and two of this series described the NMR fabrication process, how to implement it into the product mix with respect to design, and considerations required prior to final development of a plastic enclosure project. Part three of the series will focus on what goes inside the plastic enclosure, in other words, building the plastic housing from the inside out.

The criteria mentioned in part two mainly referred to the overall application of the plastic enclosure project (environment, enclosure accessibility, testing). However, the inside criteria are important as well, and can sometimes drive the design concept in determining whether or not a snap together box,     L-Slide concept, or removable cover housing will work. The main concern to address is what electronics are to be housed and how they are mounted in the enclosure. Additional questions are:

  •     Is there a PCB?
  •     How big?
  •     Where are the connectors located?
  •     Is there wiring to consider?
  •     What about servicing the electronics?
  •     Are there LEDs?

Some design solutions to these questions are easy to address, others are more difficult. It is easy to support a PCB with mounting bosses or plastic standoffs in most, if not all, applications. However, sometimes, PCBs can be snap fit in, like with the UU Snap-Together Housing. This can be a cost minimizer, but also drive the design concept as well. If there is wiring to be done or maintenance to be conducted on the product over time, it may be necessary to design in an access panel or removable cover.

The biggest design consideration with respect to PCBs however is where the connectors are located on the PCB and if they need to protrude through the enclosure wall or sit within. The easiest way to design an enclosure housing a PCB is to have all the connectors on one side. That way, the board can be inserted into, or through, the side wall easily then either screwed down, snapped in, or simply held in place by the connectors themselves within the sidewall through holes. If placing all the connectors on one side is not possible, the second best option is to put them on opposite sides. Sometimes, depending on the enclosure style, you can still keep costs at a minimum by engaging the connectors with the side wall on at least one side of the housing. The most difficult scenario is having connectors on adjacent sides of the PCB. When this happens, you lose the ability to slide the PCB in to one side of the housing as that adjacent side will have interference with the other side wall or end plate. This scenario will require more mounting bosses and more cost to the plastic enclosure.

In conclusion, there are many ways to implement electronics into your plastic enclosure project using NMR Technology. Each way is custom and unique and there is always a way to do so – sometimes, it’s just a matter of cost. The team at Envision Plastics is always available to help solve these issues and design around them to provide the most economical and functional way to design a plastic enclosure.

The next series on designing within the NMR Technology will bring in mechanical specifics of designing within this unique technology.

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Brian DuFresne
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