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Why Your Next Industrial Electronic Enclosure Could Be Plastic

Are you on ‘aluminium autopilot’ when it comes to specifying IP-rated enclosures for your industrial electronics? Don’t worry – it’s perfectly understandable. Diecast aluminium has been the excellent ‘go-to’ material for so long that it’s easy to forget there are some great plastic electronic enclosures for challenging environments.

There’s a big misconception that plastic enclosures aren’t tough enough for factories. But look around any Industry 4.0 smart factory and you’ll see plenty of them. And even before then, there were plenty of robust plastic enclosures for those prepared to look beyond the serried ranks of diecast aluminium housings.

Why Plastic Enclosures Can Be A Smart Choice

Let’s cut to the chase – plastic is significantly more cost-effective than aluminium. It’s also lighter (should weight be an important factor). Plastic can sometimes be just as good at protecting your electronics from water and dust ingress (and occasionally even better in the odd instance). The key question is whether plastic is robust enough for your specific application.

In many cases it is – which is why you should give plastic very serious consideration. After all, these are not just any plastic enclosures. They’re designed specifically for industrial applications, for factories, for the merciless great outdoors – not some cosy office. And in some applications, plastic-based materials outperform metal and should be very much the first choice, such as glass reinforced polyester (GRP) where resistance to chemicals is important.

Aluminium and plastic enclosures share similar traits. Both are light, robust and easy to machine – not that you need to worry about machining: we can do all that for you as part of our customisation service. Find out more about that here.

Yes, diecast aluminium is tougher than UV-stable ASA Luran. But you risk over-engineering your product if it’s mounted out of harm’s way. And look at the HMI enclosures we manufacture: these crucial command hubs are at the centre of the action but they’re made from extruded aluminium profile – they’re not diecast.

Fortunately, more designers are wising up to the opportunities offered by today’s advanced thermoplastics. Which is why a number of ROLEC’s diecast aluminium enclosures have a plastic counterpart. Here are some examples…

 

 
 
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