Terry Cantle, M.D. at FDB Panel Fittings considers how a new solution in enclosure fittings is enabling easy, toolless, yet robust enclosure joining

Assembly of cabinets for ¬electronic equipment can create ¬significant bottlenecks in the ¬production process with consequent downstream effects on productivity. Normally the idea of reducing time might also involve reducing ¬quality in some way, but there are solutions available on the market today that actually offer very high quality outcomes with assembly time reduction in the order of 90 percent.

The technology offers a way of assembling racks and cabinets, as well as their necessary hardware without the use of tools or other fittings such as screws or nuts.

This enables side panels, tops, bases and doors to effectively be produced as flat items and then quickly assembled either at the factory or on site.

In particular for 19″ systems FDB Panel Fittings has recently launched a captive Snap-Joiner, which fits the standard 19″ rack 9.5mm x 9.5mm cutout and is quicker and easier to use than the traditional screw with cup washer and cage nut.

The solution is ideal for quickly installing 19″ front panels of electronic racking and for assembling other panels where rapid/removal is required.

The joiner is simply punched into the front panel where it is held by spring clips, this assembly is then mated to the rear panel and the devices core, push fitted to activate spring wedges, which accommodate a clamping range of up to 5.2mm in a vibration proof connection.

Removal is achieved with a 45° turn by cross-head screwdriver, which meets the requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42EC.

This single component combines the function of captive screw with ¬captive cage nut, without the need for specialist installation equipment, reducing inventory SKU’s.

The push and snap insertion is not only faster (by up to 90 percent) than threaded options, but also minimises risk of cross-threading and of damage to sensitive equipment in the ¬installation process.

The joiner provides positive clamping action, which compensates for applications where tight tolerances are difficult to achieve. The same technology is applicable to the entire 19″ rack where the company has found that with this approach, toolless assembly is possible complete with hinges, locks and handles.

Each snap component is an integrated component with its two spring loaded wedge fittings, that offers installation comparable with the strength of traditional assembly methods.

Components in the range centre around the panel joining components, which are configured so as to allow insertion (and removal) into blind or closed sections – the resulting rack cabinets are extremely rigid with vibration proof fittings.

Each 19″ rack requires the possibility for lockable and removable side panels, which can be achieved with the technology in quarter turn locks. Front/rear doors can be fitted with quarter-turn or swinghandles with snap facilities where many of the ¬company’s standard hardware components are available.

This is demonstrated by a new range of 180° cabinet hinges which are aimed at specialist panel builders and installers of electrical or electronic cabinets, where full door opening is required; either for maximum door clearance, e.g. for insertion of equipment – or for access to the rear of the door. They may be used on standalone enclosures/racks or on suited style side-by-side instillations.

Three versions are available – the traditional option with M5 cast in screws, with screws on one leaf and Snap-line fitting on the other leaf – or with the company’s snap technology on both leaves.

This enables assembly/dismantling without tools, screws or nuts, as well as being vibration proof. Not only is this system fast and easy to assemble – it is also a simple ‘blind’ push-in fitting that does not require access from the rear – this often enables up to 90 percent savings in hinge assembly time.

Conventional panel fittings ¬continue to be of great interest to manufacturers of electronic equipment of all sizes from plastic hinges for small boxes and housings to pin hinges for side doors or digital combination locks for low cost cabinet security.

Typically, smaller packaged and mobile equipment, require recessed handles for manual handling, and the company foresee these traditional components continuing to fulfil the market need alongside snap variants.