Making Enclosure Cutouts

Making enclosure cutouts…there’s an app for that? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about how we normally make a cutout on a carbon steel enclosure. Many of us have been there; we begin with making a drawing, schematic or diagram of how the system is going to work and the components that will be needed. As part of the system, we decide to use an enclosure to house controls, wiring and other electrical or electronic components safely and securely.

We then determine if pushbuttons, HMIs or other human interface components are required for this enclosure. We assess whether thermal management components (air conditioners, fans, heaters, etc.) will be needed to maintain proper temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure.

Then another schematic or two are made to show how all these components will be laid out in and on the enclosure. Once we know all this information, we carefully select the minimum required overall width, depth and height size for this enclosure, ensuring that all required components will fit comfortably and meet all specified tolerances.

When the enclosure and all its components arrive, the fun begins. It’s time to drill, bore and cut holes to properly install all the required enclosure components. This means we need drill bits, jig saw blades and other special tools that can cut through steel efficiently. In addition to the tools, we need careful measuring, skill and patience to ensure all cuts are done correctly. If cutouts are required and made in the wrong place or the wrong size, the enclosure may be ruined. If you’re lucky, you might locate replacement components that will fit securely in the botched cutout or maybe find some kind of an insert to make it all fit.Enclosure Cutouts

Now, we carefully measure and mark the cutouts to be made on the enclosure and make sure all the markings are aligned and properly spaced. Then all the drilling, sawing and cutting is done.

Remember to smooth out all the rough edges by filing or sanding areas where cuts were made, clean up all the metal debris, and erase any leftover markings on the panel. It is also very important to touch up all metal surfaces where cuts were made with a rust-inhibiting paint since these cutouts are now unpainted, and at risk of corroding.

If we did things correctly, we now have a nicely done enclosure ready for assembly.

There’s an App for that?

Ok, let’s not get too carried away. There is no downloadable smart phone app that will shoot some type of laser ray and make the enclosure cutouts automatically… yet. However, there is another option available that provides a customized enclosure with perfectly made cutouts from your exact specifications.

AutomationDirect and Hubbell-Wiegmann have partnered to offer a series of customizable carbon steel enclosures currently available in ten different sizes. These enclosures can be customized with cutouts made to your specifications using our new customization utility.

This utility allows users to select from eleven cutout types/sizes and place them on any of the available customizable enclosures. These customized enclosures are built to order from flat sheet metal and are painted after cutouts are made, ensuring the best possible protection against corrosion. This means no more mess or hassles, and no more messing up cutouts. You receive a custom made enclosure ready to add all required components, a 3D model of the enclosure, and a PDF of a dimensional 2D drawing.

Keep in mind that customized enclosures cannot be returned unless there are manufacturing defects or shipping damage. Therefore, make sure to carefully design your cutouts with the correct measurements, specifications, and requirements.

So in a way, there IS an app for that thanks to our new customization utility.

Customize It!

To use the utility, from your browser, go to You must login with your username and password. If you need to register as a user, click on the “Register” link located on the top of the Home Page and follow the registration instructions.

Once logged in, select “Enclosures/Subpanels/Thermal Management/Lighting” from the “Shopping Categories”, and “Enclosures” from the available page selections. From the Enclosure page, select “Custom Cutouts”. Scroll down and select one of the available customizable enclosures listed. From the selected enclosure page, click the green “Customize” button.

We recommend that you watch the “How To Use Enclosure Cut-out Tool” video to learn how to use the utility. When you finish the video, you can begin customizing by clicking on the “View Project Listing link on the bottom of the window.

Customization Utility Overview

Begin your new customization project:image2_start-proj

  1. Assign a “Project Name”
  2. Enter your email
  3. Click on “Start a new project”

The customization window opens. From this window you can see all the available customization tools and a drawing representing the enclosure you selected. Here is a quick overview of the tools and features available for customization:image16_main-proj-win-callouts

a. Enclosure Diagram: This is a representation of the selected enclosure. Cutouts can only be placed inside the dotted lines to prevent placing holes too close to edges, hinges, latches, etc. Active cutouts are depicted in blue.

b. Max Cutout Count: The maximum number of cutouts allowed is 25. The number displayed here is the amount of cutouts still available.

c. Save/Approve

image3_save-icon Save: Saves your work.

image4_save-as-icon Save As: Saves with a new file name.

image5_approve-icon Approve: Submits your customization for approval.

d.  image6_face-icon  Enclosure Face: Click the down arrow to choose the face of the enclosure to be displayed.

    image7_alignment  Cutout Alignment: Align multiple cutouts horizontally or vertically. A checkbox to       the right of this selection turns this option ON or OFF.

e. image8_category-icon  Cutout Type: Select between the categories of Pushbutton, Standard DIN, or         C-more HMI cutout to be added.

    image9_select-cutout  Cutout size: Select the desired size for the selected cutout category.

f.   image10_turn-off-on  Cutout Placement: Click to allow placement of the selected cutout on the displayed enclosure            face.

      image11_delete-icon  Delete: Select a cutout to delete and click this icon to completely delete it from project.

g. image12_coordinates  Coordinates: Enter or edit the X and Y coordinates in the fields. Click         the checkmark to apply coordinates to the active cutout.

h. image13_cutout-rotation-icon  Cutout Rotation: Click the icon to rotate the active cutout 90° clockwise with each         click. You may also use the pulldown to select other rotation angles.

i.  image14_grid-snap  Grid ON/OFF: Click to turn the grid ON or OFF.

    image15_grid-snap-value  Snap to Grid Value: Enter a snap to grid value and click the checkmark to accept the     value.

j. Imperial or Metric: Select the desired unit of measure to use for your customization.

k. Show/Hide Cutout Dimensions: Click the icon to display the cutout dimensions.

Select to “Show All”, “Show Active”, or show “None.”

Go to today to try this customization utility. Remember, before you start, watch the “How To Use Enclosure Cut-out Tool” video. This video provides a more comprehensive explanation and provides an example of the utility in action. After that, create a test customization and see for yourself how easy and convenient it is to use.

Originally published: Sept. 21, 2016