Housing Scripts for Front Panel Designer

We proudly share a collection of scripts that helps us regularly in creating various types of aluminum housings for our products and custom projects. The scripts are made for Schaeffer AGs CAD application called "Front Panel Designer" or "Front Design" and their integrated online manufacturing service. The scripts are found on GitHub. Below is a collection of images of the enclosures made from the scripts and the videos will show you how. Enjoy!


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Introduction to Creating Enclosures

SKAARHOJ K/S uses an online metal processing service from Schaeffer AG and their CAD application is scriptable with JavaScript so we are launching a series of videos where we introduce how to easily make aluminum enclosures using our free scripts.

Watch the video (3 min) 

Side Profiles - Basic Box

Kasper introduces the first script in the collection - SchaefferHousings.fpjs - which lets you create traditional Schaeffer enclosures as known from their Housing Assembly Manual. The box is based on Side Profiles (or Side Sections) in this demo where a small 100x56x80mm box is made.

Watch the video (11 min) * FPD files: SchaefferHousing1-BasicBox.zip * Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Side Profiles - Rack Unit Box

We move on to creating a rack unit based on Side Profiles 42mm high. This time the aluminum will be black and housing brackets will be used to keep the long span of the top and bottom together. It is demonstrated how housing brackets can be mounted on glued studs instead of traditional countersunk screws (which disturbs the front panel visually) and how to manually offset the position of the automatically placed housing bracket mounting points should it be needed. Correction: Often in this video, Kasper will refer to housing brackets as “housing profiles”, this is a mistake of course, but the correct meaning should be clear from the context.

Watch the video (14 min) * FPD files: SchaefferHousing2-RackUnit.zip * Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Housing Profiles - Basic Box

Housing Profiles are introduced by making a basic red box similar to the one made with side profiles. Enclosures with housings profiles have arbitrary heights which is the main advantage over fixed height side profiles. In this video Kasper will also elaborate on the usage of “guide engravings” as a means to help positioning cutouts and generally visualize how the enclosure is meant to be assembled. The possibility of making rack units based on housing profiles is also touched upon in some detail.

Watch the video (16 min) * FPD files: SchaefferHousing3-BasicBox.zip * Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Housing Profiles - Console Box

Going beyond the “official” types of enclosure, this video shows how to tweak a housing profile box into being a nice desktop console having a slanted surface facing the user of the box. This will take us “offroad” by disabling the GUI of the housing script and enter parameters manually. This is necessary since we need more exotic features which are not available via the GUI. In that sense this video introduces the mode of operation for the remaining videos where we will explore the underlying advanced features of the SchaefferHousings.fpjs script. Correction: In this video Kasper mistakenly refers to housing profiles as “housing brackets” at one occasion. The context will make the true meaning clear, but we are sorry, both for you and for the poor, tired presenter :-)


Watch the video (17 min) * FPD files: SchaefferHousing4-Console.zip * Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Cut Outs and Mounting Stuff

In this small intermezzo from looking at the SchaefferHousings script, we will briefly look at how to mount printed circuit boards in front panels.

Watch the video (5 min)

Advanced Features I of SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Following the usage of this script in GUI mode we will now explore all the nifty small features under the hood when you enter manual mode. Various panel thicknesses, colors, resessing sides, tips and tricks about guide engravings, edge grindings, creating an order automaticlaly and adding extra width and height plus rack ears to the enclosure. Thats a lot already! So Assembly Slots and Housing Brackets are covered in the next video…

Watch the video (25 min)Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

Advanced Features II of SchaefferHousings.fpjs

In part 2 of the advanced feature walk-through we will look closely at “assembly slots” and how to place housing brackets for strengthening your enclosures.

Watch the video (20 min) * Script: SchaefferHousings.fpjs

U-Housings - Basic Box

Kasper introduces U-Housings as an alternative to traditional profile-based housings. A U-housing is cost effective in that it uses only two front panels to form a 6-sided box, since each panel is bend twice 90 degrees over cavities milled on the backside. Housing brackets are holding the two U-shaped metal pieces together to form a rigid, simple enclosure.

Watch the video (8 min) * FPD files: UHousings1-BasicBox.zip * Script: UHousings.fpjs

U-Housings - Rack Unit

With reference to the videos using Side Sections to create a 1U rack unit, this video aims to do that exact same thing, but using the principle from U-Housings - only two sheets of metal forming a full 6-sided rectangular enclosure. The video also touches on how to adjust the position of housing brackets which may be on collision course with planned cut-outs for panel mounted electronics.

Watch the video (9 min) * FPD files: UHousings2-RackUnit.zip * Script: UHousings.fpjs

U-Housings - Advanced Options

The advanced non-GUI features of the U-housing script is explained in this video, taking a strangely looking U-box as an example - basically all you shouldn’t do at the same time. But each feature is in itself justified in many cases; Adding rack-ears, letting the top cover fold under the bottom (wings), creating an overhand on the left and right sides etc.


Watch the video (11 min) * Script: UHousings.fpjs

Four Fold Boxes - Basic Box

A sister type of enclosure to U-Housings in that two pieces of front panels along with the principle of bending is used to create a box. 


Watch the video (8 min) * FPD files: FourFoldHousings.zip * Script: FourFoldHousings.fpjs

Free Form Housings - Introduction

Based on the idea that aluminum panels can be bend sharply around a deep and narrow cavity, the Free Form Profile Housings script introduced in this video gives you an extreme level of flexibility in creating a free form profile housing. Watch it as an introduction to the following focused videos which will explain and demonstrate the details.

Watch the video (8 min) * Script: FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs

Free Form Housings - Basic Box

Kasper takes the first step into Free Form Profile Housings by demonstrating the classic red Basic Box made with this script. The fundamental workings of the script (defining coordinates, housing brackets and junctions) are demonstrated as well.

Watch the video (14 min) * FPD files: FreeFormProfileHousings5.zip * Script: FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs

Free Form Housings - Slanted Surface

Free Form Profile Housings has a definite unique feature in that you can define a free form of the box seen in profile - and this video shows how to create a slanted surface - a small console - using this script. New features are also shown, namely how to make ends that cover the profile and use assembly slots to fit sides and ends together firmly.

Watch the video (6 min) * FPD files: FreeFormProfileHousings6.zip * Script: FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs

Free Form Housings - Small Console

This examples continues the trend from the previous video by expanding on the idea of a console form. The example code is taken from the Free Form Profile Housing script itself, so you can explore it on your own by uncommenting the relevant code section from the script. A new feature that appears in this video is the usage of housing profile 2 as a means to create a joint in the profile form.


Watch the video (6 min) * FPD files: FreeFormProfileHousings4.zip * Script: FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs

Free Form Housings - Advanced Features

Wrapping up Free Form Profile Housings by demonstrating many of the included examples in the code and what features generated them.

Watch the video (22 min) * FPD files: FreeFormProfileHousings2.zip * Script: FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs

Panel Shape From Coordinates

If you want a non-rectangular or non-circular shape of your front panel - and if you don’t know how to create DXF files with another CAD application, this script may help you to do it anyway if you are good with x,y coordinates and a piece of paper for planning. Also, the same method can be used to create DXF contours for cutouts, cavities and HPGL engravings.

Watch the video (8 min) * Script: PanelShapeFromCoordinates.fpjs

Rotate Panels and Features

This script will rotate a panel along with all it’s cut outs, cavities and engravings. Very useful, even necessary in some cases.

Watch the video (2 min) * Script: RotatePanel.fpjs

Theory of Bending Panels

In this video Kasper will explain the technical assumptions underlying bending a Schaeffer front panel based on a beveled cavity cut down to 0.5 mm remaining material. This can help you to understand which parameters to adjust internally in the scripts based on bending (such as the UHousings.fpjs, FreeFormProfileHousings.fpjs and FourFoldHousings.fpjs scripts) if you need to account for a general trend of imprecision in your results.

Watch the video (15 min) 

Bending - and Breaking - a Front Panel

So, how many times can you bend and unbend, bend and unbend a panel with a beveled grove before it breaks? Kasper experiments in this video and arrives at the conclusion that generally it will break after 4 times.

Watch the video (3 min)