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View Full Version : Bespoke acrylic enclosures for prototype electronics devices, advice please



Gonzodada
07-24-2010, 05:38 PM
Hello

I have a series of forthcoming projects developing prototypes for various electronic devices. It's helpful to move prototypes off breadboard to PCBs and out of temporary enclosures to something more robust as early as possible particularly as these projects will undergo extensive end-user testing. Simple clear acrylic enclosures seem ideal.

I have become fascinated by CNC machines and have even considered investing in a desktop model and it would be brilliant fun to have my own CNC machine and play with it to my heart's content!

Thing is it may simply be more than I need. The scope of the projects amounts to little more than the following requirements (excluding bending which I realise isn't the function of a CNC machine)

Cutting sheets to size
Drilling holes
Cutting larger circles
Cutting squares and rectangles
Cutting squares and rectangles with rounded corners

There are relatively few projects and a limited number of each prototype to create. Perhaps a CNC machine or use of a commercial service is a little more than I need? Also the designs aren't especially complex, as in there wouldn't be numerous cuts per sheet. Can the above shapes be done by hand even? Accuracy needn't be absolute, within a millimetre. Obviously holes are easy enough, a drill and a press. What about the others? Is there an equivalent "manual" process? Reading values off CAD software and positioning a drill head ... probably not, sounds a bit tedious!

Anyway here is an example of one particular project

http://web.mac.com/hardcoded/pic.jpg

Size is 300 mm x 300 mm

Any help appreciated, new to CNC obviously!

On the subject of investing in a machine that can cut acrylic and maybe later aluminium could I do it (new or used) for around £1500 (2315 USD)?

Thanks
Jim

webgeek
07-24-2010, 06:05 PM
$2300 will get your into a Sieg X2 conversion no problem. Probably into some others as well but I'm less familiar with them. The Fireball CNC is much cheaper than that price too. If you just want to cut acrylic and are willing to hold off on the aluminum, there are some very cheap DIY CNC plans out there that use a high-end dremel as the foundation and should work great.

With that said, depending on the volume and size, you might just want to look at something like bigbluesaw.com or any other water jet service as they can cut your parts for almost nothing.

Mike