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I have a small hw product and I would like to find a plastic enclosure company that do small runs.

Recommendations with experience please (i.e. not a simple Google Search result dump!)

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closed as off-topic by Nick Alexeev Feb 6 '15 at 17:54

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I need to use that disclaimer more often. :D \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Apr 7 '10 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ How small is a small run? As mentioned by Ian, there are usually huge fixed startup costs to get custom things designed, even if the individual parts are fairly cheap. \$\endgroup\$ – davr Apr 7 '10 at 18:23
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I would say that to keep costs to a minimum you need to try to fit your product to one of the standard enclosure boxes made by (for example) OKW. The problem with a bespoke mould for your product you are looking at a large NRE charge for the design and some thousands of pounds for the tooling costs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed on the cost. Depending on scale, budbox is pretty good. Slightly customizable boxes with an NRE generally around 5k dollars. \$\endgroup\$ – mcmiln Mar 30 '15 at 0:35
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If you want something custom, I've had great experience in the past with a process called Selective Laser Sintering. Assuming you have CAD files for the parts, the setup costs are much less than any kind of injection molding process. The surface quality is very similar to a generic laptop power brick. The parts are nylon, so they can't be surface worked, but are otherwise mechanically equal to injection molded parts.

If you move to higher volumes, you might consider injection molding using aluminum tools, rather than steel. The setup costs are lower, as are the setup times. The draft angles need to be a little shallower than with steel tools, otherwise the process is pretty similar to any mass-produced part. There's a company in the US called Protomold that's done great work for some projects I've worked on in the past.

For both of these, I'd highly recommend working with a Mechanical Engineer who has prior experience in prototyping and/or model building. Getting the CAD files in order, making the subtle changes to the design to ensure the part is suited for the process, and dealing with the production shop questions, take a fair amount of experience.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a heads up: These parts are not mechanically equivalent to injection molded plastics, and you should check the environmental requirements of your application before deciding on the process. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Pascucci Jan 31 '11 at 6:14
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Here are a few that I have bookmarked --

I don't have experience with any of these manufacturers (which is why I didn't post for the original question). I did receive samples from each company and all the cases look good and feel solid. Each company seems to have one or two styles that I like.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I have used PacTec and Polycase enclosures before. They are really nice. For my application, I needed the Polycase enclosures modified with one rectangular and one circular cutout. Both the setup and per-piece (I ordered only 25x at a time) were very reasonable and cheap enough that it wasn't worth doing it myself. \$\endgroup\$ – lyndon May 18 '11 at 18:07
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I agree with Ian, try to use a existing box.

A tip is to get a label-printer that can print labels with a nice graphical logo, a productname, serienumber etc etc.

It's a cheap way of transforming a boring black box into something that looks a little bit more professional.

Maybe something like this?

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