[Mastro Gippo] found himself in a pickle recently, with the development of an enclosure for the Prism electric vehicle charger. The body had been sorted out, but the front cover needed work. It had to be visually appealing, and ideally should provide the user feedback on the charging process. After some thought, [Mastro] decided to explore the possibilities of using a PCB as a part of a commerical product enclosure.
For a variety of reasons, using a specially designed PCB was an attractive solution for the team’s enclosure. Wanting something cost effective, easily customizable, and something that would help with emissions compliance, a PCB seemed like a great idea. With this in mind, [Mastro] prepared a series of prototypes. These feature see-through sections for LEDs to shine through, as well as a capacitive button and gold-plated logo. The fact that the front cover is a PCB makes the integration of the electronic components a cinch.
Before heading into full production, [Mastro] began to question why this technique isn’t used more often. Deciding to research further, [Bunnie Huang] was tapped to provide some advice on the concept. Noting that there can be issues with lead content, as well as the fact that PCBs aren’t often produced with proper regard to aesthetics, there were some pitfalls to the idea. Additionally, ESD testing can be difficult, while the in-built capacitive button would face issues in wet conditions.
None of these are showstoppers however, and [Mastro] has persevered, combining the front cover PCB with an adhesive plastic sheet for added protection. We fully expect that if more manufacturers explore this route, it may be a more viable technique in future. It’s also a great example of knowing when to ask others for help – it’s not the first time we’ve learned from [Bunnie’s] broad experience!