Just like the fascinating architecture of the buildings that make Barcelona so unique, the designs of enclosures from Retex UK are similar in their ­intricacies as Michelle Winny, Editor of Electronics discovers 

Enclosures are probably one of the most profound aspects of a device or system. Why? Largely because they house and protect, the often sensitive and fragile inner workings of the machine or system. Not to mention the look, feel and interface of the device.

A huge amount of consideration goes into the design and development of enclosures with companies such as enclosure specialist, Retex specialising in the sophisticated requirements of enclosures from huge industrial data systems to smaller hand-held cases; whatever the size a massive amount of ingenuity goes into developing the right enclosure to fit the need. 

Retex distributes its enclosure products into the UK market and has recently relocated and revamped its manufacturing facility based in Barcelona. “Recently the company has moved to a new, purpose built premises. This is allowing the company to grow its product range and support its expansion into new regions,” said Peter Lishman, Business Consultant for Retex UK.

Enclosure design is much more ­complex than you may think with key drivers such as safety, functionality and even transportability, for huge industrial cabinets being at the forefront. But most importantly as with the many stages of the design cycle cost rises to the fore as one of the key drivers for enclosure designs, as Lishman, advises: “Cost is a major consideration at the moment with OEMs and installers keen to keep unit prices to a minimum. The flexibility of the design is therefore of utmost importance, making sure that the range can be adopted for many ­different applications.”

In response to this Retex has developed comprehensive ranges of ­polycarbonate, steel and aluminium electrical enclosures. In addition to their extended enclosure range there is a complete suite of IT/Data Centre solutions also available. These are ­targeted towards data centres and enterprise networks.

One of the key aspects of enclosure design is the consideration of the material used along with functionality such as cooling, safety and accessibility. “Retex UK enclosures can be found in many different environments which is why there are a host of material options ranging from aluminium through to many types of plastic. The enclosures may be subjected to extreme temperatures, contact with water and extremely dusty air condition”, Lishman said.

Included in this range are passive products such as racks and cold aisles to entire modular CPD’s and active elements such as cooling, smart PDU’s along with, active monitoring and environmental control/management software. The company caters for enclosure solutions from a single cabinet to a full turnkey solution for sites as varied as secure bank installations to mobile shipping containers.

The enclosure market is big business with the company currently selling a considerable volume of products into the UK market as Lishman comments: “We are currently selling approximately 250,000 units a year into the UK through distribution. Retex UK has been created with the intention of increasing the market share and establishing the brand in the UK.”

The company has recently undergone some significant developments: “Most significantly has been the expansion and creation of Retex UK which will promote the Spanish brand into the UK market. The products have been available in the UK for the past 15 years but have been unbranded up until now”, Lishman added.

The evolution of the enclosure market has been prolific over the past few decades as machinery and equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated.  Lishman advises:  “The market evolves with the help of the customer. Rather than basing design evolutions on the thoughts of a designer, Retex ­listens to its customers and tries to bring in the features that they suggest.

“Not everyone wants the same thing which is why, as with evolution in the natural world, we see and can respond to designs becoming more and more diverse as they become much more specialised.”

The company is currently working on designing a new die-cast enclosure range and a new rack range. “Unlike the majority of die-cast enclosures on the market the new range will offer IP68 protection, making it one of the most durable and protective enclosures available.”

For the future of enclosure design  Lishman advises: “As electronic technology is developing and becoming more miniaturised this is having an effect on enclosure design. Mounting options for PCB have become an industry standard for example and weight is becoming more important as OEMs compete to produce the most compact, lightweight components.”

The importance of enclosure design is continually emphasised by the requisites of the OEMs in what they request as Lishman comments: “Entry options and internal mounting solutions are the most common design requests. Depending on volumes Retex is able to offer aftermarket customisation or specifically moulded enclosures to suit most needs.”

Looking to the future, Lishman concludes: “Enclosure manufacturers have to be open to the new trends and understand the needs of the consumer. It depends on the advance of the technologies in the electronics fields. It would be a fair assumption that new material developments will play a major role in shaping the industry over the next 10 or 20 years.”

Retex UK