Guidebolt

Electronic Design

2017.11.13

Circuit Design Software

KiCAD is a free electronic design automation (EDA) program. Open source and sponsored by CERN. Excellent entry point for designing circuit boards toward prototyping and production.

Circuit Enclosures

Plastic is a common consumer enclosure material for its low cost, light weight, ease of molding, good insulation properties (electrical and thermal), and versatility. The elastic properties of plastic bring potential for built-in hinges, locking tabs, and auto-tapping screw mounts. On the other hand, plastics are prone to cracking, brittle in cold, and warps in heat.

Sheet metal is a common industrial enclosure material for its durability and ease of interface installation. Though heavier than its plastic counterpart, sheet metal brings good, cost-effective abrasion and impact resistance across a wide temperature range. Holes, slots, and other openings are easily formed during the flat phase of sheet metal processing for installing ports, buttons, and switches later in the product assembly phase.

Extruded metal is another common industrial enclosure material for its durability and rigidity. It often forms the frame of metal enclosures that combine the strength of extrusions with the connective versatility of sheet metal. Extrusions are stronger than sheet metal but its material is usually limited to aluminum for saving weight.

Circuit Protection

Standoffs provide secure mounting and physical isolation between the circuit assembly and its enclosure.

Gaskets seal the enclosure that contains the circuit assembly. Form-in-place (FIP) gaskets are made by looping a continuous bead of sealing compound on the closure surface. [Video]

Conformal coating is a light layer of protective compound applied on the surface of a circuit assembly. [Video]

Potting is the complete or partial submersion of a circuit assembly with sealing compound. The compound may be injected within either a reusable open mold or the outer shell of the assembly. [Video]

Overmolding is the complete submersion of a circuit assembly with sealing compound injected within a closed, pressurized mold. [Video]

Circuit Labeling

Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is the process of drawing ink through a mesh to print text and images on plastics and metals. Screen printing involves thermal setting of the ink by oven heating. Quality screen printing sets sharp and flat to the surface and does not rub off easily. Screen printing is a popular method of inscribing labels and symbols on electronic enclosures. [Video]

Electronic Component Distributors

Mouser

Digikey