How to Choose an Electronic Chassis

man pondering decision

Nature knows that everything needs protection. Turtles have shells and human brains have skulls. So, when it comes to protecting electronic devices, we should follow Nature’s lead. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right electronics chassis (also called an electronics enclosure) to protect the sensitive internal components of your electronics.

When it’s time to choose the electronic chassis for a device you’re designing, what factors need to be taken into account? In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important questions that should guide your decision, and how Polycase can help you find just the enclosure you’re looking for.

Environmental Factors and NEMA/IP Rating

Your first consideration in choosing an electronics enclosure is to think about which environmental factors it will face. Look over this list and decide if your chassis will need any specific protection or security features to be compatible with environmental factors such as:

  • Precipitation such as rain, snow and sleet
  • Washdowns with hose-directed water or water splashing
  • Airborne dust, sand and debris
  • Corrosion from airborne salt particles or from exposure to chemicals
  • Accidental contact by people or animals
  • Impacts from heavy equipment
  • Temporary or prolonged submersion in water

NEMA ratings and IP ratings can tell you which enclosures are designed to stand up to which environmental factors. Take a look at the NEMA and IP rating charts and use them to decide which performance factors you’ll need from your electronics chassis. Then, check the ratings on the Polycase indoor and outdoor enclosures you’re considering to find out whether they’ll meet your needs. Once you’ve identified relevant environmental factors, it’s time to think about which material your chassis should be made from.

Choosing a Material

The material of your chassis will determine many different things about its performance, so it’s important to make the right choice. Polycase’s popular options for materials include:

  • Stainless Steel: A classic option for both indoor and outdoor devices. Stainless steel has high durability, resistance to corrosion and a great aesthetic. However, its cost might make it impractical for some applications.
  • Aluminum: A highly durable material that features natural RF shielding and comes in a variety of attractive finishes.
  • Polycarbonate: Another great option that’s extremely tough and available in many different designs.
  • ABS Plastic: A highly cost-effective choice, but one that’s not quite as durable and is best suited for indoor and consumer electronics enclosures.

Polycase EX Aluminum Enclosure Series

Polycase EX Aluminum Enclosure Series

Form Factor

You’ll also need to consider the nature of your application and what specific form factor considerations it might require. Will your device usually be:

  • Sitting on a desk?
  • Attached to a pole?
  • Attached to an interior or exterior wall?
  • Used in someone’s hand?
  • Carried in someone’s pocket?
  • Plugged into an electrical socket?
  • Something else?

Whatever your form factor needs, Polycase can provide solutions through our exceptional range of enclosures. We have all kinds of specialty form factor enclosures, including:

Accessories and More

Your enclosure may also require some accessories to fulfill its correct function. It might need components to attach it to another device, mount it on a wall, or mount it on a pole. Thus, Polycase offers a full range of enclosure accessories, from DIN rails to hinge kits to cable glands to battery holders. We strive to ensure that all of our customers can access the products they need to create the perfect enclosure for their applications.

technician working on smart home system

Of course, there are always many more considerations in any design decision, and you’ll likely come across them as you work through the design process. (Remember that we also offer custom CNC machining cutouts and full-color digital printing to create an enclosure with the features and design you need!) Polycase is here to help you with any questions about which enclosure to use. Just call us at 1-800-248-1233 or contact us online for more information, plus a free quote on your electronic chassis.