Packaging is a key aspect of electronics design, and some people make a lifelong career of it. For a consumer product, creating the package might involve the skills of an industrial designer or graphic artist, someone well versed in thermal analysis, an RF engineer to check for radio-frequency emissions, and a production engineer to make sure that the package can actually be built in a cost-effective manner. When a package is being designed for applications such as aerospace or marine applications, a whole new set of requirements comes into play. Physical volume, weight, electrical connections, mounting constraints, and even the type of paint used are just some examples. It can get quite involved.
However, for the most part, packaging for small- to medium-sized projects, particularly those that are prototypes or one-off devices, just involves applying a lot of common sense and asking some key questions. This chapter addresses those key questions and also examines issues such as plastic versus metal, sources for chassis components, and the potential of unconventional packages.
Every circuit or device that isn’t going to spend its life on a workbench needs an enclosure of some sort to protect it. Even if it does end up living out its days in the back corner of a workbench, a package will prevent things falling into it or someone accidentally touching it while it’s active.
Packaging can range from the simple to the complex. It all ...