How often have you heard, “It’s what’s inside that counts?” This common saying applies to how engineers typically feel when it comes to electronic products, focusing on the tiny components that make the overall device function. However, this approach leaves out a critical aspect of an electronic device—the enclosure that protects the sensitive parts on the inside.
German company Odenwälder Kunststoffwerk (OKW) was founded in 1948 by Dr. Herbert Schneider and manufactured tuning knobs made of pressed plastic for the radio and television industry. By 1972, OKW unveiled its Flat-Pack Case, the first standard enclosure made of plastic for the electronics industry. Formed as the USA subsidiary of OKW Gehäusesysteme GmbH about 20 years ago, OKW Enclosures, Inc. (located outside of Pittsburgh, Pa.) has grown into a leading supplier of plastic and metal enclosures to the North American market. In addition to its own OKW brand enclosures, the company also distributes the METCASE range of metal enclosures and TEKO enclosures.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Rob Macek, sales manager at OKW, who explained how this company set itself apart from its competitors. “We like to own the entire process,” Maceksays . From start to finish, OKW guides its customers to an enclosure that can meet the specific requirements of an application. It can be molded, painted, or printed depending on the conditions it will be exposed to. It is also fully finished and ready for final assembly when it reaches the customer.
“In today’s day and age, it’s refreshing to have a call answered by an engineer,” says Macek. “Every time you call, you speak to a person who can assist you with your project—not an automated directory.”
According to Macek, it’s this level of service that keeps their customers coming back year after year. OKW’s broad product range of standard housings is another reason. With an extensive line including handheld, wall-mount, flush mounting / DIN rail, desktop, tabletop, instrument, and standard mounting rail enclosures, OKW features a variety of sizes with several options that can be added to modify a standard product to one that becomes “customized.”
Additionally, Macek notes that OKW consistently streamlines its production process depending upon their customers’ needs. “We have no say over the global economy, but we can respond to it,” he says. “Tech changes so quickly today. Products become obsolete faster and customers need to redesign.” According to Macek, customers tend to seek a more sleek and futuristic aesthetic, with the same or updated technology in a smaller, more efficient footprint.
In an era where efficiency and the environment are growing concerns for many electronics manufacturers, the research and development teams at OKW are constantly exploring new materials and methods to produce an enclosure that minimize waste and overruns. Macek mentioned that OKW’s design, manufacturing, and distributions processes are certified to ISO 9001:2015 and that all products comply with REACH and RoHS requirements. “We take a great painstaking approach to ensure that we are using the best materials for the environment,” he says.
More often than not, it’s the medical industry that requires very specific and detailed housings, but military, security devices, gas and oil, and the increasing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) markets are also seeking the ease of a standard enclosure that can be modified for their project. “At OKW, every project is equally important, whether it’s from a very small operation or is one of the largest, well-known companies on the globe,” Macek says.