Metal enclosures are important for ensuring the safety of the electronic equipment used in many industries. Much of this type of equipment is very sensitive to temperature, humidity, pressure, and other external factors, meaning it must be enclosed in such a way as to limit exposure to the elements. These enclosures are typically made of plastic or sheet metal and sealed to protect from water or dust.
Over the years, manufacturers of electronic metal enclosures have developed voluntary standards which are followed by most in the industry and published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), a trade group founded in 1926. Today, over 450 electrical production companies are members of NEMA and participate in developing and implementing standards for, among other things, electronic metal enclosures.
Metal enclosures are found in all kinds of industrial and commercial sectors, such as medical imaging, utilities, telecommunications, aerospace engineering, and many more. Enclosures can be as large as server racks or as small as handheld housing products; the wide variety of applications usually means companies need custom metal enclosures designed specifically for their product or facility.
The most common metal used for electronic enclosures is aluminum, a strong yet versatile metal. Aluminum, when handled by a skilled metal fabricator, can be sheared, degreased, bended, and rolled to form the parts needed for the production of custom metal electronic enclosures. Aluminum is also great when used as the perforated metal panels of an enclosure, allowing for greater air flow, filtration, and control of the climate of the electronics inside if need be.
If you’re searching for a custom metal enclosure for your electronic equipment, look for a provider whose products comply to NEMA’s standards. NEMA and its members have developed specifications over time for enclosures based on hazardous or non-hazardous locations of the enclosures; pressurization of the surrounding area; and interference from other electronics nearby. A metal enclosure manufacturer should prominently display which NEMA standards its products meet; for instance, a “NEMA 1, 3R, 4 Metal Enclosure” means this enclosure was developed for use in non-hazardous locations, specifically locations categorized 1, 3R, and 4 (These classifications are available on nema.org). If a manufacturer doesn’t include this information, ask for documentation about which standards are met by their products, if any.
Look around for a custom metal enclosure fabricator who can work with you to design a metal enclosure that will suit your facility or workplace. There are plenty of manufacturers pre-fabricated enclosures, but many of these won’t house your electronic equipment in exactly the way you need. The effectiveness of a metal enclosure depends heavily on the metal used and the proficiency of the manufacturer, so don’t skimp on keeping your equipment safe and secure.