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I am on the process of material selection for the UPS I am prototyping. My plan is to manufacture a product that should finally go to the market. I am relatively new to the manufacturing and I would like to get some advice on the selection of the right enclosure material for electronics equipment like UPS. Should I look for Aluminum or plastic enclosure? Please advise me from both economic and technical sides

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No experience in manufacture myself, but intuition says a decent quality plastic would be cheaper and safer. – Polynomial Nov 19 '12 at 9:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

A quick survey of the half dozen UPS units from 3 different brands sitting around my workroom indicate plastic as the standard UPS casing material.

Here are some possible reasons for this choice:

  • Light weight, thereby lower shipping cost, and easier handling during set-up.
  • Safer, as any mess-ups / short circuits are unlikely to expose live power on the casing
  • Safer, as any battery spillage or leaks are less likely to eat through the casing and damage person and place.
  • Cost of manufacture: Besides the initial cost of design and production tooling, recurring and materials costs ought to be lower than for metal fabrication. This one is worth validating specific to the plastic of choice.
  • Less noise, as plastic tends to absorb the humming of various power elements very well, compared to metal.
  • Structural longevity, since metal cases tend to ding and dent more easily than plastics.

Now the flip side:

  • Aluminium casing will reduce radiated EMI
  • Better heat dissipation if the casing is suitably used for heat-sinking
  • Lower production cost in small scale: Off the shelf extruded aluminium and metal fittings in a wide variety of profiles and sizes would allow screwdriver technology to produce strong, professional looking casing.
  • Seems to be the casing of choice for at least one brand's large, high capacity UPS, so it isn't unheard of. The unit sure leaves big dents on the wall if rolled around on its casters, though.
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EMI and heat dissipation shouldn't be too much of a problem to compensate for on a plastic housing, though. A decent heatsink and some air holes combined with some shielding should do the job. – Polynomial Nov 19 '12 at 10:42
@Polynomial Totally in agreement - and evidently so are the UPS manufacturers. Just mentioned those points to be pedantic :-) – Anindo Ghosh Nov 19 '12 at 10:44

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