Plastic Enclosure Manufacturing Process

No Mold Technology

The foundation of Toolless Process is anchored in our ability to design and manufacture enclosures without the use of hard tooling. The idea of Zero tooling was born out of 90’s economic recession as the result of engineering budget restrictions. One engineer had the idea of adopting the sheet metal process to plastic sheeting eliminating the need for expensive tooling.  Using a simple CNC router, and detailing a technical assembly process, this unique Toolless technology was born.  For entrepreneurs, inventors & engineers this process represented a major change.  Not only did it reduce the budget to create a prototype but it also minimizes the expense to produce low and medium production runs while keeping an aesthetically appealing design.

Because of our unique design characteristic, Toolless is your partner in designing the most attractive design at the most competitive price.

CNC Machining

The Toolless technology is a CNC machining and fabrication process that uses assembly techniques borrowed from the sheet metal and (wood) cabinet making industries. We use this CNC machining from start to finish from scratch, unlike competitors that uspremanufactured enclosures. This allows Toolless to cut the middle man and make the entire enclosure in house. 

The technology is used to make custom plastic enclosures, “hog-out” enclosures, bezels, machined parts and assemblies quickly for fast turn around with our ten step process.

Ten step process

  1. Design the plastic enclosure starting from a dimensioned drawing or CAD file showing the circuit boards and electronic components oriented in space.
  2. Generate the CNC code that drives all the machining and bending operations.
  3. Machine the plastic sheet to add openings, vents and recesses.
  4. Cut individual pieces from sheet.
  5. Prepare joint and edge details on routing machines. All joints feature a modified tongue-and-groove design.
  6. Score the sheet with bending cuts on a custom table saw. These v-shaped bending cuts extend halfway through the sheet and boost the bending precision.
  7. Bend the pieces in a computerized thermal bending machine that resembles a sheet metal brake press.
  8. Heat stake metal inserts into bosses. Install the bosses into machined recesses in the sheet.
  9. Assemble the pieces using a solvent-bonding process.
  10. Perform secondary operations like painting, EMI shielding, and latch or hinge installations.

Your custom enclosures are then shipped out and into your hands quickly.

Advantages over Injection Molding

No tooling or capital outlay – No minimum orders

Traditional Injection Molding
Toolless Alternative

It is not unusual for customers to contact us asking for an Injection Molding design.  It’s actually understandable as our technology is unique and not taught in trade schools or colleges. Instead of using liquefied plastic in a mold, we manipulate large sheets of plastic through milling, drilling, bending, sawing and assembly. We describe this process as the “ten step process”.

The advantage of our technology over injection molding is the ability to modify at any stage of the process without the expense of modifying a mold which can be a significant issue and may require the purchase of another tool if the changes do not fit the mold parameters.

At Toolless, we incorporate modifications on-the-fly, either for a 1-off part or recurrent productions, there is no minimum order.  Toolless is your partner for custom enclosures for electronics, for medical applications or any other field you need an enclosure for.

Our prototype phase can be 10 to 20 times more cost effective than making a mold.  Our volume pricing often compares well with injection molding, depending on the quantity and the complexity of the project.  Request a quote for your project, you may be surprised how cost-effective Toolless can be.

Fast turnaround

Another advantage of Toolless technology is the lead time. Whereas injection molding has an average of a 6 week lead time for prototyping and an additional 3 to 4 weeks for mass production.  Toolless alternatively offers a very attractive 5 to 10 day lead time for prototyping and 2 to 4 week lead time for production delivery. Furthermore, if the 1st prototype needs minor adjustments, not only are the modifications made in a very short period of time (2 to 3 days) but often at no cost.

Injection molding changes are typically more difficult to incorporate and the lead time can be extensive.

High Quality Appearance

The aesthetic appearance is an important selling point for most companies. Toolless technologies compares very well with injection molding.  In fact some customer can’t often tell the difference between the 2 technologies as Toolless enclosures have indistinguishable seams.   We have the ability to enhance the appearance of a closure by adding a bit of flair to a plain case similar to injection molding capabilities

Zero draft  – Zero Tooling

Because we create product from a flat sheet of plastic, there is no draft in our enclosures, making the design easy and understandable for any designer. The bend of our parts can be either perpendicular or at a different angle. Designing a part for injection molding requires some knowledge and education of the injection molding process. Our process is easy to understand and our on-site engineering team is here to help.

Changes are easily incorporated

As mentioned previously, as opposed to injection molding, our process is very flexible, allowing simple modifications to be incorporated with a single click. For example if a device becomes obsolete due to circuit board or component changes a molded enclosure would require design changes, research and development, a probable new mold, an approval process etc.  With Toolless, we are accustom to these types of changes as our customers understand our ability to modify an enclosure. Working with Toolless comes with free training, most of our customers are then able to makes changes themselves.

In the current economic world, where new technologies develop overnight working with Toolless is a real game changer enabling immediate response to meet customer demand.

Complex features including bosses, ribs, and interlocks can be added

Drafts and bosses can be sometimes very difficult to incorporate in a mold, thanks to our in-process bonding capabilities, these features are easily incorporated and requires no knowledge of injection molding.