How to build beautiful enclosures from FR4 — AKA PCBS


Voja Antonic over at Hackaday posted a detailed how-to on building enclosure out of FR4— AKA PCBS:

Another way is to build the enclosure out of FR4, a material which is commonly used in PCB production. Such enclosures are low-cost, with thin walls but yet very strong, nice looking, pleasant to the touch and have excellent thermal and moisture stability. FR4 offers some more possibilities – efficient wiring with no wires inside the housing, integrated UHF or SHF antennas or RFID coils, capacitive switches, electrical shielding, selective semi-transparency, water or air tightness, and even integration of complex mechanical assemblies.
Here I shall explain the process of building those “magic” enclosures. It is based on nearly fifty years of personal experience and more than a hundred enclosures, built for most of my projects. Here are two examples – this case for a hardware password manager is just a few centimeters long, while the other one (protective transportation cover for my son’s synthesizer) measures 125cm (about 49 inches), and yet both of them are strong enough to withstand a grown man standing on top of them.

Via Hackaday.

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  1. Excellent idea!

    Especially by using *DIRTYPCBS* !!!

    No, really, this is a great idea. Just look at the comments at the hackaday site. I’ve done this on RF projects to achieve good shielding all around. The USB gadget shown looks fine. I have had *many* customers as a consultant who are astounded when shown their first prototype via this technique.

  2. Beautiful, very very nice. I mostly grab various kinds of easy-to-cut boards from the art store… won’t be as sturdy as FR4.

  3. You do NOT want to go about casually cutting, filing and sanding FR4 PCB material. Inhaling the fiberglass residue is hazardous. For years I have been making enclosures out of PCB’s, but generally I use phenolic-based single or double-sided boards. You can paint them or use clear acrylic spray to prevent tarnishing and protect dry transfer labeling.

      1. Yes, but the Author of the article which is “out-there” for all to see makes no mention of the possible dangers of dealing with fiberglass containing materials like FR4.

        That’s the important point, and as a service to all I would like to see at-least a warning from DP on their post propagating this information about the dangers of improper material handling and health.

        Man, I’m starting to sound like some Socialist-Minion from the EPA or OSHA. I’m not like that at all usually. But the facts still stand. Please be careful with anything that can produce inhaled fiberglass remnants.

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