When designing and manufacturing a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), the creator must make countless considerations. Designers must specify size, weight, shape, materials, and a number of other features. Another aspect of PCB design and layout includes the PCB enclosure. Similar to the board itself, a PCB enclosure consists of numerous variables from materials to size. Below is a guide to expound on considerations when choosing a PCB enclosure.
Evaluate the Source
Research potential suppliers to determine whether an organization is reputable. Newly-established or poorly-reviewed companies may not consistently provide products of adequate quality or reliability. Be aware of a supplier’s customer support and service, since these factors can play a pivotal role in long-term satisfaction with the enclosure. Compare a supplier’s pricing patterns with reputed quality and customer support to help determine the best company for your project.
Determine how much effort should be spent on assembling each enclosure. Ease of assembly is an important factor in selecting the cost-effectiveness of a product. Ease of modification informs how much delicacy will be required for drilling, fitting, and printing. Easily-modified enclosures may reduce overall PCB assembly costs. Select a product that offers flexibility of design, including height, depth, and width.
Enclosures will serve somewhat different functions depending on the usage environment. A PCB in a hot, humid indoor area will require different protection compared with a board in a dry, dusty environment. Depending on the anticipated placement of the PCB, an enclosure ought to protect against certain environmental factors. A board may need protection from elements such as temperature, airborne particles, and ultraviolet light.
Choose Ideal Materials
Each material type offers specific advantages as a PCB enclosure. Metal cases are highly durable, which translates to lowered long-term costs. Metal, however, can have relatively high initial costs, and metal construction can be somewhat labor intensive. Conversely, plastic is highly malleable, so it is a popular choice based on its workability. Plastic also survives humid environments without corrosion common to metal. A plastic enclosure is prone to breakage, but the initial cost is lower for this material.
PCB enclosures are an important element of printable circuit boards. While the “best” enclosure is the product of several variables, a few considerations can help the buyer determine where to begin in the selection process. Refer to this guide when evaluating what type of enclosure is a viable option for your upcoming project.
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