Enclosures and cabinets can be found in countless environments across almost any industry. But while each unit has its own application, they all have one thing in common – they are responsible for protecting their contents from external hazards. To avoid early failure, however, the components which will be used alongside the product also need to be carefully considered. Chris Putman, sales and marketing director of WDS, explains the importance of specifying suitable enclosure accessories

Specifying accessories and components for enclosures may seem like a simple task for an OEM or design engineer. Accessories such as hinges, latches, gas struts and anti-vibration mounts, however, play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of an enclosure. If one of these components should fail, it could result in the enclosure failing in the field.

During the specification of an enclosure a number of criteria must be considered, such as the required IP, size and weight, access requirements, security requirements and the environment in which it will be located. These design criteria will also have a bearing on what accessories may be needed and the materials which will be suitable. Specifying the correct solution during design can ensure that an enclosure performs its role with virtually zero maintenance requirements for the life of the product.

Ingress protection is one of the most important requirements for enclosures, and this ensures that the contents can’t be damaged by intruding external contaminants. For enclosures that will be located outside or underwater the ingress protection levels will be extremely high, requiring complete resistance to the smallest dust particles and water droplets. In this scenario it is vital that hinges close the lid flush to its sealing, and that the locks provide equal security.

Selecting accessories

The operating environment of an application may also play a role in deciding what accessories are required and what materials are needed. An enclosure housing sensitive electronics in a heavy production plant may well benefit from effective anti-vibration mounts. Equally, where an application will be subjected to wash-down environments, materials must be resistant to corrosion. WDS stocks a complete range of 316 grade stainless steel accessories which are suitable for such instances.

Accessibility and security requirements for an enclosure can also vary greatly. The control cabinet of a finely calibrated CNC machine will rarely be opened and will need to be secure from unauthorised access. In this scenario a strong and reliable locking system would be required that could be integrated into the enclosure without drastically reducing installation space. Here, key locks or quarter turn locks can protect the contents from unwanted intrusion.

Other enclosures – such as a storage cabinet or switchgear panel –  may require frequent access from many people. In this case it is not only important to ensure that the hinges are able to withstand frequent use, but it would also be important to use an efficient latch system which will prevent the enclosure from opening on its own accord while still allowing users easy access. At the other end of the scale some enclosures may hold emergency gear in which case they must remain closed unless required, and in this case a quick release pin would be ideal.

If an enclosure is extremely large it may be awkward or heavy to hold the lid open, so gas struts can be used to support the weight of the door, enabling hands free access. WDS gas struts are available with forces between 20 and 2,500 Nm and these feature a brass adjusting valve and long lasting seals to ensure a constant and precise pressure is maintained.

Maintaining design efficiency

There are many small components and accessories which can be specified with enclosures, and while they may at times appear inconsequential, they can play an important role in maintaining the efficiency of a design.

During the specification stage it is vitally important that the full life requirements of an enclosure are considered and that all accessories are suitably manufactured.

WDS has a complete range of enclosure accessories available, including hinges, handles, catches, locks, latches, gas struts, castors and anti-vibration mounts. The range includes material options including stainless steel and strengthened polyamide. Items can also be adapted or custom manufactured for unusual or very specific requirements in a range of materials.

But, to ensure the correct solution for your application, the first step is to discuss you requirements with a suitable supplier or manufacturer, such as WDS.

WDS Component Parts 

T: 0113 290 5845               

www.wdsltd.co.uk