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Product Prototype Enclosures

Updated on June 13, 2012

Advice for DIY Engineers, Mechanics and Tinkerers Working on Limited Budgets and in Limited Spaces

Building enclosures in a garage determines the choice of material to be used. The material has to be worked with basic tools readily available from local hardware retail stores. Consequently, the choice is limited to using either sheet metal or plastic sheeting.

A second consideration is the shape of the enclosure. The choice is again constrained by the availability of basic tools. Assuming the costs of tools and equipment required for bending and shaping exceed the funds available, the shapes are restricted to being polyhedrons.

Sheet metal is readily cut with hand held shears and drilled with standard drill bits. Since bending, without deforming, requires somewhat expensive equipment, the sheets can be riveted to metal angles. However, while metal angles other than 90° can be fabricated, standard 90° metal angles are obtainable at reasonable prices. And by using
90° angles, the enclosure will be a rectangular box.

On the other hand, plastic sheeting can be sawed, drilled, bent, cemented and welded using relatively inexpensive tools. This expands the range of shapes which can be constructed and is only limited by the extent of one’s imagination.

We built a rectangular enclosure using sheet metal for one of our Decoraxion™ prototypes. When testing the prototype, we determined that a different design was necessary to accommodate different components needed to realize the additional functions we wanted to build into the Decoraxion™. Accordingly, our next prototype was a hexagonal/octagonal combination using plastic sheeting.

The sheets were cut using an 8 inch fine toothed circular saw, drilled using a standard 3/8 inch hand-held drilling machine and metal drill bits, and bent and shaped using a heating strip. Permanent connections were cemented with a plastic cement and welded using a heat gun. Non permanent connections were drilled and tapped using standard metal drill bits and taps and held together with plastic screws.

Fourth prototype is finished

Fourth prototype finished
Fourth prototype finished | Source

Prototyping the enclosure

Building the 4th prototype
Building the 4th prototype | Source

The work was done in our garage. We used tools and equipment purchased from Canadian Tire and Reno Depot, both of whom have large selections at reasonable prices of the items we needed. Materials used were purchased from other sources, but that is another story.

Panaxion is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where the two co-founders and inventors, Frank McDonnell and Chris Frosztega, are developing Decoraxion™, a decorative painting tool that blends paint colours on location and on demand for amazing gradients and making feature walls and themed rooms easy and fun


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