Listed below is a selection of our frequently asked questions. But if you do not see the information you require then please feel free to give us a call
Anodising is an electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts. A dye can be added to this process to change the colour of the parts. We use it on our extruded aluminium enclosures and plates to give a scratch resistant finish. Our aluminium pressure die-castings cannot be anodised because the material silicon content is too high. They are available with a powder coat paint finish already applied.
The anodising process can be applied in several ways according to the requirement. Our stock sheet for front panels and top plates and our extrusions are a pre-anodised natural finish which looks silver due to the colour of the aluminium underneath. The surface texture is satin rather than glossy. They are (relatively) inexpensive. A custom enclosure can be anodised using a standard sulphuric acid process with a nitric acid based pre-treatment to brighten it. This is expensive because of the additional air scrubbing equipment needed to remove the nitric acid fumes from the environment. The result is a high quality glossy finish.
Features of anodising:
- Clear aesthetic enhancements with a distinct visual style
- Protective coating on the outside, which is scratch-resistant
- The coating becomes non-conductive when anodised
- Select from a range of colours
- An item will be anodised on every exposed face
A carrier plate is the method we use to interface a pre-existing circuit board to a custom enclosure. We find that 80% of our customers use a board that already exists. Very often they are buying a standard board “off the shelf” which they are turning into a unique saleable product by programming it in a special way. Let’s not forget that we can help you produce your unique saleable product by housing it in a special way.
A typical example of a standard board is the Raspberry Pi. It is so popular now that you can buy a standard plastic box that fits it perfectly. Many of our customers do not want a standard box. They want one where access to some of the connectors is restricted, or where the HDMI is on the front, or which is metal and not a plastic enclosure. The Raspberry Pi has screw mounting holes in the four corners of the board and components right up to the edge. Therefore it will not slide into any of our extrusions and it would be a one in a million chance if the holes on the board lined up with the bosses on a die-cast enclosure. We use a carrier plate with mounting holes for standoffs which line up with the holes on the Raspberry Pi. The width of this carrier plate matches the width of the circuit board slots in our proposed extrusion and it has a cut-out for the GPIB header. The one in the picture has four holes for the Raspberry Pi plus 3 holes for our HDMI extender board. We use it in our Pi-Box Pro enclosure solution for Raspberry Pi. We can make carrier plates for all our boxes including plastic and diecast aluminium enclosures
Carrier plates are made using a CNC Punch which is not expensive. Furthermore, they do not have to be scratch-free because they will not be seen. Much of the expense we have with aluminium is the cost of finishing the outside of enclosures to a high standard. The hidden cost with carrier plates is the cost of standoffs and screws plus the time taken to assemble them. That’s why we prefer boards designed to fit our boxes.
CNC Milling is a process for removing material from a piece of metal or plastic. Lincoln Binns can:
- Machine custom holes on any flat or curved surface
- Produce custom shaped pieces from a sheet of starting material
- Buzz the edges of a punched piece of sheet leaving them with a smooth bespoke finish
- Countersink screw ends into a sheet
- Begin with a block of material too thick to punch/cut and remove material leaving a thick final piece or even a 3D surface-
- Milling can makes holes that never bottom out through a material, in contrast to punching, where the piece is stamped out
Below is a short video which demonstrates the milling process in action to make the front plate of a HiFi housing.
CNC Punching is how we cover the bulk of our orders and milling is often used to finish them. Punching is a cheaper option for a customer where possible, as it’s faster for larger orders. Milling gives a more bespoke finish and more options for a customer as it can be used on thicker pieces or on curved pieces, which punching cannot manage.
This means that Lincoln Binns has the tools to make the enclosure that you want . We can machine the holes for the connectors of your circuit board. Lincoln Binns can produce the electronic custom enclosure that you need.
CNC punching is the sheet metal manufacturing process we use to make custom end plates and carrier plates. The letters CNC stand for Computer Numerical Control. The punching machine is programmed to accurately position a sheet of metal under the machine’s punching ram by moving it in the x and y-directions. The ram uses a selection of shaped punches to make the holes and outside edges of small sheet components from the large sheet under the ram. This process is very fast with hundreds of strikes per minute. Thus a large (say 2m x 1m) sheet of aluminium may be turned into hundreds of custom end plates or carrier plates in ten minutes. CNC punching is cheap for mass production compared with the alternative slow process of CNC milling holes and outside edges. It is not particularly economical to make just a single plate. However, when making a first prototype we ar happy to run the machine in this way so our customers can have a prototype which is the same as the production enclosure.
Our punch is controlled utilising Radan programming software fed from our Solidworks design suite. We can punch simple circles or rectangles or overlapping punches to give complex sheet metal components. We also have custom punches for many electronic connectors. Radan software can also be used to work out the most efficient layout resulting in a production of large numbers of components to a high standard
Lincoln Binns sells both standard enclosures and boxes which have been modified to suit a customer’s requirement. Let’s be clear, all boxes will need to be modified for an application because standard boxes have no holes in them, and any electronics put in them will have no access to the outside world. It is just a question of who is going to perform the modification. If you wish to buy a standard enclosure, then you can follow a link from any of our custom enclosure products to the equivalent standard enclosure. You can purchase it directly from our website.
When you think of a custom enclosure you may be thinking of a consumer product housed in its own custom designed and moulded plastic housing, or a pressure diecasting for housing an industrial product. Although we can do these things we will not do them unless you are an existing customer, or the new design is associated with one of our existing products. Our customisation process is one where we understand your requirement and reduce our wide range of enclosure options to one that is perfect for you. This is the opposite of a boutique moulding designer who will undertake blue sky thinking and increase your choice of product options.
If you are not sure what you want please talk to us anyway. We don’t mind telling you to go to an industrial designer but we may surprise you with some interim options first.
We understand that it is important to you to keep control of cost involved in a custom enclosure. We have broken the process down into three parts. The first two parts are free and will allow you to understand where these costs may lie.
The first part is a specification phase. In this phase we ask you the size of the board and what connectors it has. Also, we work out whether the board will fit directly in an enclosure or needs to be mounted on standoffs on a carrier plate. This will allow us to work out an enclosure size and the number of holes in it. We will talk to you about what sort of box you are expecting, e.g. plastic or metal and so on.
The second part is our quotation system which takes into account box size and type, the number of holes and the way they are made. It also includes accessories such as mounting lugs and gaskets and the cost of finishing operations such as printing. This will allow us to give you a ‘price idea’ for batches of one, ten, one hundred or any other quantity that you may desire.
The third part is the design phase which costs £100 per hour (in 2018). This will bring your product to life. We will give you an estimate of the number of hours to do this. It will be affected by some variables that are out of our control. Often, on a first design, our customers will come and sit with us whilst we design the box. They will make decisions as the design develops in the computer about location of print or circuit boards, for example. We can also make a first prototype whilst the customer waits and put a quotation in their hand for pre-production and production quantities. This quotation is more accurate than the ‘price idea’ we gave them earlier. The prototype may not be exactly what we would offer in production. For example, if the enclosure needs anodising then we will be unable to do this whilst you wait. A typical example of a design variable which is out of our control is artwork for printing. We sometimes finds that customers have artwork for their logo which will print badly. We know this from experience. In these cases we will re-make the logo either by smoothing the outline or from scratch. We are happy to give a copy to the customer and tell them to keep it safe. The company logo is, after all, part of the intellectual property of a company.