Snap fastening technology speeds cabinet assembly

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

A new approach to installing hardware on sheet metal surfaces has been developed, which does not require the use of tools or screws. Dean Palmer reports

A new, patented method of installing hardware on sheet metal surfaces without the use of tools or screws has been developed which will help enclosure and cabinet manufacturers reduce assembly times and costs.

The technology, D-SNAP, was developed by German company Dirak. 12 months ago, the company launched a range of quarter turn products, latches and hinges that benefit from this new technology.

D-SNAP is a new mechanical approach to installing hardware on sheet metal surfaces without screws or tools. The technology reduces cost and time spent on the installation process by eliminating the use of screws, washers and nuts. Because installation hardware is not used, the product remains securely attached to the panel, even in severe vibration environments.

Dirak's 'SNAP-LINE' range of products, which incorporate D-SNAP technology, have a set of retractable wings that protrude from each side. With a single moderate pressing motion, these wings instantly snap into place for installation. So assembly is fast and easy and overall durability strength is not compromised. Panel preparation consists of a simple rectangular cut-out.

David Hayes, UK sales and marketing manager told Eureka: "Dieter, the owner of Dirak in Germany, invented D-SNAP technology to cope with the demands of cabinet and enclosure manufacturers who needed a faster method of installing hardware to sheet metal panels. In the UK, three major players from the telecoms and air conditioning industries are already using D-SNAP technology in their high speed assembly processes.

"Uninstalling the part is just as simple," explained Hayes. "It involves using a tool that retracts the wings and allows the part to be easily removed from the panel."

For cabinet manufacturers and assemblers, Dirak's locking and latching systems are designed to allow maximum interchangeability and rotation through 180 degrees. The ability to rotate doors through 180 degrees allows for the same locks, latches and hinges to be used for both right- and left-hand enclosures. This significantly reduces the number of parts that must be kept on hand, and it means that all types of enclosures can easily be adapted to suit the changing needs of a specific location.

All latches used for industrial cabinets and systems are made up of essentially two components: the actuator on the outside and the latch mechanism inside. Separating these two components during the design process increases modularity by making it possible to rotate the latches 180 degrees and opens up a wide variety of combinations of actuators and latch mechanisms.

This modular approach, said Hayes, also impacts the high degree of flexibility the designer has available in selecting actuation methods. Using the same cabinet preparation, the designer is able to select multi-point or single-point latching and may select access with special keys, T-handles, L-handles or swinghandles, all available with many different lock options.

With a standardised system available to all manufacturers, it is possible to offer customised solutions simply by combining certain components. With the capability to rotate latches and hinges, the number of items to be stocked is reduced further. No longer is it necessary to stock parts for right- and left-hand-doors.

Also, a design that separates the actuator located on the outside, and the latching mechanism on the inside, opens many options for combining actuators and the latching concept. Standardisation of the installation cut-outs is essential for achieving many possible combinations for lock and hinge mounting.

Dirak's range of quarter turn products can accommodate many door sizes and are used in industrial enclosure applications in the medical, food, data communications, security, railway and telecommunications industries.

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