An enclosure is just that; it encloses your electronics from the outside working conditions. It serves a dual purpose; first by keeping your electronics clean and tidy while also isolating live wires, but also protecting electronics from flying debris, dust, falling objects, etc... An enclosure is just as important as the CNC machine itself!
A basic enclosure consists of a case, connectors, a fan or two, and all of your electronics. The case is the skeleton of your enclosure. It will protect your electronics from anything that my harm them. However, if certain things aren't taken into account your electronics can fail from a poorly constructed case. A case can be as simple as a plastic milk crate or wooden box or as robust as a custom metal housing or a purchased project box. This is really up to you on how professional or sophisticated you want it to look. We'll discuss more about this below.
Heat will probably be your biggest enemy in an enclosure. If proper circulation isn't provided, your electronics can very well melt. There are several ways to combat this though, some including but, not limited to are fans, heatsinks, or a peltier device.
You need to allow for air to circulate through your enclosure, if it is enclosed on all sides, and whisk away the heat produced by your electronics. The best way to due this is by mounting a fan on your enclosure, much like the fans on a desktop computer.
Heatsinks are another good idea and when coupled with a fan your electronics will love you. Also, look in to a peltier device as an alternative to a heatsink.
Bare Wires and improper grounding can be another demise to your electronics, especially if your enclosure is made of metal. Be sure to heat shrink any bare wires to keep them from shorting out. I know electrical tape may be an ideal solution to some, but as it ages, it will dry and fall off exposing the wires. Improper grounding could be an issue as well but, provided you set up your electronics correctly, you should be fine.
Connectors will make your life easy when you need to move your machine. They are simple to use yet often over looked. Just remember to get a connector that meets your voltage and amperage specifications.
More to be added
Listed below are items you'll want to check out for making your enclosure the best it can be:
- Liquid Electrical Tape
- Wire Sleeving http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l2736&_nkw=wire+sleeving
- Rocker Switch
- Emergency Stop http://www.ebay.com/itm/170520711348?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_1101wt_1399
- Panel Mount USB B female/male extension printer Cable
- IEC AC Power PCB Panel Socket http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l2736&_nkw=IEC+AC+Power+PCB+Panel+Socket
Here are some threads from the ShapeOko Forum on enclosures. (Updates will follow to include all threads)
Re: Any interest in a breakout to tidy up the wiring?(GRBL Tidy Case - Clamping Version)