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BL2002-super-size-rack-cases

February 2020

Growing numbers of METCASE customers are requesting extra-large rack cases – right up to 12U – which we can supply as custom sizes. But which of our standard rack case models is the best to ‘supersize’?

The answer lies in whether the case has a bezel. You’re better off specifying a large rack case with no front bezel…because it’s diecast. Bezels are great for aesthetics and for easy access via the front – you simply unscrew the front panel. But every new U height (or custom width) means creating a new die to cast the bezel. That adds time and cost to the project. Furthermore, a diecast bezel will be impractical for a large height like 12U.

Of the four models of 19” rack cases offered by METCASE, the most practical for supersize cases is COMBIMET. It also happens to be the most cost effective, the most versatile and the easiest to customise (which in turn keeps costs down still further). Hence its popularity – soon after launch, COMBIMET swiftly became our bestselling rack case.

Maximise Space With Deeper Standard Rack Cases

Do you really need a custom-sized rack case higher than 6U for your PCBs? Would a deeper standard case better suit your requirements?

Before late 2017, it was possible to specify COMBIMET rack cases in only two standard depths: 265 mm and 365 mm. But then we received a number of orders for COMBIMET in a bespoke depth: 24 inches (609.6 mm). This prompted us to make it a standard size. You can now specify these extra-deep cases as standard in any height from 1U-6U. And because 24 inches  is now a standard depth, it is now quicker, easier and more cost effective to specify custom heights of 7U-12U in this depth.

Three years later, history is starting to repeat itself: we are receiving more enquiries from customers who want to maximise server rack space by specifying 28 inch (711.2 mm) deep cases to fit 1,000 mm deep racks. At present we are manufacturing these cases as custom orders. But the more orders we receive, the more likely it is that 28 inch deep cases will follow in the footsteps of the 24 inch deep cases by becoming a standard size.

Practicalities Of Extra Large 19” Rack Cases

The law of diminishing returns applies as much to supersizing rack enclosures as it does to anything else. There comes a point at which making something larger presents technical issues which will ultimately impact directly on ease of manufacture, time and cost. For 19” rack cases, that point is 12U.

Which brings us back to the question – do you really need a rack case that is higher than 12U (533.4 mm)?

Tempting as it is to design your electronics then specify your housing, we as specialist enclosure manufacturers would always recommend working on an ‘enclosure first’ basis. Specifying your rack first will help you to reduce PCB size and save space. It will also help you to determine the final location of components on your PCB.

And never forget that at some point you will have to manoeuvre your 19” enclosures in and out of your rack for routine maintenance. COMBIMET comes with distinctive rack handles as standard to make this more convenient.

But here’s the crux: do you really want to pull a heavy 12U case from the rack and then replace it? Yes, you can access the components by removing the rear, top or base panels. But at some point you may need to pull out the whole case (even if only to gain access to the top or base of a neighbouring case in the rack).

And at that point you may start to wonder if perhaps two 6U 28 deep cases (if possible) might not have been a better idea? (Remember that point about specifying the enclosure first before settling on PCB size?).