Alpha Launch!

August 31, 2018

Hello and welcome to the EnclosureGenerator blog! In this post I'll go over the motivations behind why I built this tool and some of the plans I have for its future. In case you came to this blog post before the main page and have no idea what this website is for, it is for generating enclosures or cases for circuit boards. See the EnclosureGenerator home page for a more complete description of the tool and the example page for some examples what it can do. So, why did I make this thing? A few years ago I was working as a mechanical engineer at a large engineering company alongside a lot of electrical engineers and software engineers. At that time a non-trivial portion of my time was spent designing enclosures of different sorts for circuit boards, typically prototypes or small runs. I designed enough enclosures that I made a few observations about the process:

  1. Designing enclosures is often boring. There are only so many times you can design a box with some holes before it gets tedious.
  2. The design of an enclosure for a circuit board assembly is generally driven by the circuit board assembly design itself, not the other way around. Said another way: once the circuit assembly design is done, much of the design of the enclosure is already determined. Once again this is not always true, but often is for prototypes where you just want something to protect your electronics.
  3. The electrical engineer(s) who want an enclosure typically know what they want, they just don't have the time or motivation to learn to use a mechanical CAD program to design it.
These observations are not always true of course, and it isn't difficult to find examples where each of the above points is completely wrong. However, for prototyping and low quantity circuit board production, getting a simple enclosure designed and built can often be a pain. Given that pain and my observations about the enclosure design process, I felt that it was only natural that there should be a fast, automatic enclosure design tool. I searched for a while for something that might fit my needs, but most of what I found was either a stripped down CAD tool with its own learning curve, or too inflexible or simplistic for my liking. I wanted something a little more automatic and customized to the circuit board. At the time I thought about trying to build what I wanted, but there was always some excuse not to do it. By the time I left that job it was still only an idea in my head and I had no firm plans to build anything.

Fast forward a few years, and for some reason I still had the itch to build a better box maker. So, I decided to go for it and now here we are! The application is still very much in an early stage (thus the "alpha"), but I think it is ready for some feedback from potential users. Currently the generator can only create 2 enclosure template types, with a relatively small number of features, using only EMN or EMP filetypes as input. In the future I plan on creating many more template options, smarter design rules, deeper feature customization, a greater number of supported filetypes, PCB visualization, and more, with the primary goal being the minimization of time spent designing an enclosure and maximizing the quality of the enclosures generated.

With that being said, I want feedback from users before going further down the rabbit hole. So give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thanks,
Drew