The housing of the electronics can be just as important as the internal components. It protects the components from environmental hazards and contaminants while ensuring that the device is ergonomically and aesthetically appealing.

The manufacturing process of a business can significantly affect the quality of the product casing. A variety of techniques can be used to create it — including 3D printing and CNC machining — but not every method is right for every item.

These best practices and tips will help any business determine which manufacturing process will be right for the housing of a new product, whether it’s an aluminum electronics housing or something else.

Basic considerations for manufacturing electronics enclosures

The specific technical requirements may vary from project to project, but each product’s enclosure must fulfill several of the same roles.

An effective enclosure must hold the product components in place and protect them from damage. It should also allow easy connection to inputs and outputs, as well as wireless signal transmission.

Some enclosures may also need easy-to-use enclosures that offer portability and ergonomics. Many of these housing units will also need to provide aesthetic appeal, brand consistency and visual distinctiveness of the product.

In terms of specific environmental and operational hazards, the enclosure may need to protect components from moisture, dust, debris, vibration and electromagnetic interference. Proper design solutions, such as waterproofing and electromagnetic compatibility, can enable the enclosure to provide this protection.

As a result, industrial designers responsible for creating the housing concept must carefully consider the shape, size, structure, and material of the housing when preparing a design for prototyping and manufacturing. Each of these design considerations can have a significant impact on production.

Designers must balance the benefits of their material choices against the potential impact they may have on the manufacturing process. For example, aluminum housing of the electronics is light, durable and conductivebut it can prevent the design team from relying on certain manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing.

Conversely, plastic is often cheaper than metal and may be a better option than aluminum electronics housing, but may lack UV resistance and be easier to damage.

The needs of the product team can also influence production requirements. A prototype case may not benefit from the same process as a mass-produced item.

A simple, 3D-printed box may be enough to convince investors or provide a product demonstration. However, a more robust, CNC machined option may be necessary for a product that will eventually be sold to customers.

Manufacturing strategies available for Electronics Boxes

Product designers have access to several different case manufacturing strategies, each with advantages and disadvantages. These are some of the most common.

CNC machining

CNC machines are very versatile tools capable of a variety of subtractive manufacturing techniques – including cutting, milling, milling and shaping. A trained machinist can transform a block of raw material into a very complex 3D object, including housings and components.

Raw materials suitable for CNC machining include several metals and plastics, as well as less conventional housing materials such as foam and wood.

It is CNC machining one of the best approaches for use in the manufacture of metal and plastic boxes for electronics. This may be one of the only methods available for companies that need to use metals. Using it with other popular manufacturing methods, such as 3D printing, may be too expensive to be practical—or even impossible.

3D printing

3D printing—probably the best-known additive manufacturing technique—allows rapid creation of objects from CAD models. It is often not suitable for mass production of products, but can be an invaluable tool for creating individual prototypes or especially small production runs.

Boxes can be designed with 3D CAD software and exported as model files that can be sent directly to the printer, allowing product teams to go from a finished concept to a prototype in hours or minutes. The affordability of 3D printing technology makes it possible to in-house print prototype boxes.

The choice of materials will be limited. Metal printing is possible, but the product team will need specialized equipment that is not always cheap or readily available. However, 3D printing can be one of the best options for simple plastic prototypes.


With injection molding, a manufacturer mass produces an item by injecting molten material into the product’s molds. The approach can be used to create objects from a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, elastomers, and glass. Plastic is the most common material used in injection molding, and working with metal may require maintenance from a specialist fabricator.

Injection molding production scales well, but can be expensive and time-consuming to set up. As a result, creating individual products, prototypes, or low-volume production runs is often impractical. However, it can be extremely effective when production volumes become large enough.

Injection molding is generally less expensive than other manufacturing methods—including CNC machining and 3D printing—in terms of cost per part at high production volumes. It is also faster on average per product at scale than CNC machining or 3D printing.

Production of sheet metal

Sheet metal fabricators can bend, cut, weld, and otherwise form or join the material into a desired shape, such as a product body.

Manufacturers can create enclosures from a variety of metals, including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and galvanic.

These enclosures are generally less aesthetically pleasing than those produced using other techniques. However, sheet metal fabrication is a reliable manufacturing technique for creating strong metal product boxes. Product finishes, etchings and coatings can add visual appeal to tin cans.

Best Practices for Manufacturing Electronics Enclosures

Product teams have options when it comes to manufacturing the enclosure for their new electronic product or prototype. The best method depends on various factors, especially material and production volume.

3D printing is a good option for rapid prototyping using plastic. However, it can become less cost-effective than other methods at scale, and manufacturers may not be able to use many materials, such as metal or glass. In contrast, methods such as CNC machining and injection molding are more suitable for mass production of metal and plastic product bodies.

Companies should study their needs and do research to determine the best manufacturing process for their electronic enclosures.