Custom Electronics enclosures are a fantastic application of 3D Printing. PCBs change quickly and efficiently. But the boxes they come in do not. Companies are left with the option of using a generic box that does not fit the PCB or spending millions of dollars per year to change the molds for all the various boards that they manufacture.
3D Printed Electronics enclosures can solve all of this. Thousands of enclosures can be made for a comparable cost to other processes but without the upfront expenses of tooling.
Custom Electrical enclosures made with 3D printing can fit a PCB perfectly, be made with any material you need, including ESD-safe materials, and include custom branding and appearance that might not be feasible with molding.
But if you are looking to manufacture custom electrical enclosures with 3D Printing you need to consider that you are designing for a new process.
3D printing has opened up new possibilities for creating fully customized enclosures that meet specific requirements. In this post, we'll go through some of the key features of how to make a 3D printable electrical enclosure that will actually be good, and give you those details so you can use them in your own designs.
Thick Standoffs and Chamfers
One of the main benefits of a 3D printed enclosure is that it can be fully customized to the device, there are few geometric restrictions. Making the standoffs thick and using chamfers instead of fillets can add volume to the part and provide more structural support without adding too much extra material. This ensures that the part can be roughly handled during assembly without potential damage or the standoffs breaking off. Also, since printed parts actually use internal lattices there is no additional weight or material from the thicker features.
Chamfers also allow the box to be printed in any orientation, without the standoffs breaking off.
Design for 3D Printing Manufacturability
Printing the box on its side or with chamfers on the outer corners can minimize contact with the print bed and reduce costs. Creating an inset for the PCB to sit inside is another option that can provide more support and allow for the use of heat inserts.
Materials for Custom Electronics Enclosures
FDM printing is able to access nearly all the same materials as any other process. This means everything from ESD safe materials to Flame Retardant Materials are on the table.
Design Fleexibility of 3D Printed Electrical Enclosures.
Since there is no up front tooling the enclosure can change as quickly as your electronics and PCB's do. All you have to do it update the CAD model and send it across.
Designing custom 3D printed enclosures can be challenging, but by using these key features and designing for manufacturability, you can create fully customized solutions that meet your specific needs. The use of chamfers, thick standoffs, and inlets can improve structural support, reduce costs, and make it easier to manufacture. FDM 3D printing is a cost-effective solution that allows for easy updates to the design as required.
If you would like to get a quote for your custom electronics enclosures please reach out.