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Eight ways small electronic enclosures have evolved

Small enclosures

Rapid change is reaching breakneck speed in the world of small PCB enclosures. They’re evolving so fast and in so many ways.

Such change often brings challenges for designers but not so with enclosures. Quite the opposite – you now have lots more opportunities because of the sheer number of standard (and easily customizable) cases available now.

Pessimists might point to one obvious challenge…what if one of your competitors gets hold of a new design of standard enclosure before you do? That’s no problem because:

  • There are more enclosures – so that’s less likely to happen 
  • If it did, cases are now so easily customizable (even in small volumes).

Two designers can specify the same standard enclosure and their finished products will still look totally different.  So what’s changed in just a few years? All this…

Wearable enclosures

1. Wearable Enclosures Are So ‘Now’

Wearables are a key growth area in electronics. They’re far more than just a fashion fad, more than just a sop to smartwatch fans.

Enclosures such as BODY-CASE (IP 65/67) – OKW’s first fully wearable case designed for a standard 18 mm watchstrap – are finding their way into a wide range of applications: data recording and transmission, tracking and monitoring, emergency call and notification systems, bio-feedback sensors, medical technology, leisure and sports…(in fact any safety applications where permanent localisation is required).

STYLE-CASE enclosures

2. Curves Just Got Curvier

There’s no shortage of handheld enclosures on our website: 18 models to be precise…and they’re all designed to be supremely ergonomic. Comfort is a crucial criterion for any enclosure that has to nestle in the hand.

But even so, cases are getting ever curvier. Models such as brand new STYLE-CASE and wide format SOFT-CASE are obvious examples with their comfy contours.

Extruded aluminum enclosures

3. Material Change – For An Ever Changing World

For years ABS has been the ‘go-to’ choice for plastic enclosures. It’s strong, dependable and easy to mould – what’s not to like? But now there are some new choices to challenge its supremacy…
UV-stable ASA offers excellent resistance to the harmful effects of sunlight. It’s also robust – especially when you blend in polycarbonate to create ASA+PC-FR. ASA enclosures in a high gloss finish are easy to keep clean and they look stunning. Especially in gleaming traffic white (RAL 9016). Find out more in our guide to plastics.

And then there are extruded aluminum enclosures. OKW is a manufacturer traditionally associated with plastic cases – but we broke new ground when we created the award-winning SYNERGY range and now we have just launched our new SMART-TERMINAL extruded control enclosures. Aluminum and plastic in perfect harmony. And not just any aluminum…high grade AlMgSi 0.5 blasted with glass beads to create an ultra-luxurious finish.

Senso-Case enclosures

4. Standard Can Now Be More Specialised

Standard must mean ‘versatile’ when it comes to enclosures – otherwise they would be too bespoke to garner broad appeal.

But a quick glance at our range of plastic electronic enclosures reveals some cases designed for very specialised roles:

Evotec enclosures

5. Bigger Ranges, More Choice At Launch

New enclosure ranges are often now much larger at launch: a broad spectrum of options from the word ‘go’.

We launched SYNERGY extruded aluminum enclosures in four plan shapes – square, round rectangular and oval – each in three sizes. Masses of choice from day one.

EVOTEC (IP 65) designer table top enclosures made their debut in two distinct versions (flat top and sloping top) and one of those (sloping) offered two variants (recessed or non-recessed). Not content with that we added a new 200 medium plan size (7.87" x 4.88") in October…and have just unveiled a new small 150 plan size (5.90" x 3.66").

And even ranges that were really big to start with have continued to grow – such as award-winning MINITEC, some of OKW’s smallest enclosures.

Smart design means these tiny handheld cases (ideal for remote control applications) are available in a huge number of standard permutations: two shapes, three sizes, lots of colours. So they’re less likely to need customization.

Secure torx screws

6. Torx Assembly Screws – Because Details Matter

You’ll notice that an increasing number of OKW enclosures feature Torx assembly screws as standard. They deter tampering. This is important in the field of medical electronics which has always sets the bar high when it comes to quality.

Blob enclosures

7. Standard Enclosures Just Got Wild!

Yes…wild! Utterly wild. Not something you ever thought you’d read about standard electronic enclosures.

Conventional wisdom states that standard electronic enclosures must be discrete in their design. Elegant but not ostentatious. Not too distinctive because then they would stand out too much. One electronics manufacturer’s product would look too much like a rival design. And that would never do.

That was – and still remains – the conventional school of thought. And it’s one we very much respect.

But then we created BLOB handheld enclosures which ripped up the rulebook. Take one look and you’ll see what we mean. Subtle they’re not. And yet in some crazy way these amazing amorphous shapes still manage to blend discretely into different roles – as you’ll see from examples such as this...or this.

Customzed enclosures

8. Awesome Customization (And For Small Volumes Too)

It’s the field of customized enclosures which has seen some of the biggest leaps. New technology has made it viable even for small volumes.

The choice of options in surface finishing is bewilderingly large. Lacquering offers matt or glossy finishes (in varying degrees of lustre). Water transfer printing opens the door to a myriad of patterns and designs: timber, marble and granite effects, tiger stripes, leopard or zebra prints – even on parts with complex shapes. The only limit is your imagination…

See How Much Has Changed

You’ll be amazed by all the possibilities these days. And how quick and easy it is to achieve them. So ask us “what if?”

It’s a very powerful question. One that we love to answer...
Contact OKW for expert advice on standard and customised electronic enclosures – and ask us about free samples!

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