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Stainless Steel Enclosures – Worth the Price?

Published on: March 30, 2012 by Blair Haas

It is often a challenge to choose the right material for an enclosure.  There are many considerations including location of the enclosure, desired visuals, protection levels, durability and, of course, price.  In the upcoming series of blogs, we will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of different materials to help in the selection process.  We will start with Stainless steel enclosures which are a great approach to outdoor or hazardous applications.  Typically made out of 304 stainless, it is impervious to scratches or dents that will cause a powder coated unit to rust or corrode.   Stainless will typically meet IP 65 and sometimes IP66, and NEMA ratings 1, 2, 4, 4x,12, and 13.  It also has the benefits of typical steel that can withstand a rugged environment and won’t crack or chip as plastic might.  Finally, stainless is also a logical choice when there are concerns about contamination where sterilization may be required as there is no texture to the finish that can be difficult to clean.

As with all material choices for enclosures, there are tradeoffs.  The downside of Stainless is its price.  Typically, it is the most expensive NEMA enclosure; it can cost several times the price of plastics and two to three times the price of a traditional steel enclosure.  Therefore, the specifier has to weigh the impervious nature of stainless with the cost to determine if the environment requires that type of solution.  One advantage of Bud is that our stainless enclosures are significantly lower priced than the competition.  We tend to see stainless in situations such as oil fields, medical equipment, or where the equipment enclosed is so valuable that the protection is worth the extra cost. Otherwise, standard steel or various plastics might be a better choice.   Check this site next week for our next material review