Sunday, March 31, 2013

iPhone4 Case Experiment

Having bought an iPhone4 some time ago, I've considered buying a case many time, but I never was very happy with what was out there. So I set about working on one that expressed my function and aesthetic.

I really like the "plate and screws" approach, something that emphasizes materials used and high-lights fancy fasteners, It's just my preference!
The design essentially uses a top and bottom plate, each 1/16" thick with an inner lining of 1/32" epdm rubber, held together with 4 corner pieces made from 3D printed material, all parts are held together with very small, gold-plated 1-64 torx machine screws.
I experimented with different materials for the plates, Aluminum, Brass, Copper-plated FR4, G-10 and even Carbon Fiber plate.

Cutting the plates on the CNC super-easy.

In the end though, I abandoned the use of these cases in favor of a naked iPhone. 
Seems just about any material that covers the iPhone effects the signal strength and renders the iPhone damn near unusable. It's an uphill battle with the iPhone just starting off too, Heck, just holding it wrong can kill an already spotty signal. The only materials that could be used seem to be non-metals and furthermore, nothing with any kind of carbon or metal additive. G-10 and Micarta were the only materials I tested that might be OK..but still cut the signal, just not as drastically as metals. 
It was a shame too, since my favorite was the carbon fiber plate and gold screws with clear 3D printed corners and buttons.. Looked like super-high-end Gucci stuff! but almost no signal! Ugh.
Of course Apple's case design recommendations spell this out but I'd seen some solid metal cases being sold(EXOVault)  so I took a chance.
Interestingly, EXOVault seems to have gone from designing bricks of metal type cases to designs that use only a very minimal amount of metal.. Also non-carbon composites and wood.. So maybe I'll give it another shot soon using what I've learned.

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