In case you haven't found out (from the Kickstarter campaign), our cooling cases that have been made so far are all 3D printed. Most people think that 3D printing is just for prototypes and may not be that great for making end-use products. But that is not true and all the cases that we have made and sent to all our existing users (iPad mini 4 and 5 owners) are 3D printed. Some of them have been using them since early 2022.
Although we also 3D printed the early prototypes, the technologies that was used is very different and the quality of the case is also worlds apart.
Early prototype design 3D printed using FDM technology
The early prototypes were 3D printed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology and the parts are not as strong or flexible and have a pretty rough finish. But the ones we made and sold are 3D printed using HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology and Nylon 11 or 12 materials. Cases printed from this technology and material are much stronger than the FDM parts while also having enough flexibility to bend and wrap around the iPads. They also have a much nicer finish than FDM parts.
What are the other benefits of 3D printing?
There are a bunch of pros and cons to 3D printing (vs Injection Moulding) and we will start with the pros (the benefits):
1) Lower startup cost
Tooling for Injection Moulding takes longer to design and fabricate and costs a lot more compared to 3D printing.
2) Design flexibility
3D printing allows for greater design flexibility because it enables the creation of complex shapes and geometries that may not be possible with traditional manufacturing methods. It has allowed us to come up with the modular design of the universal cooling body and iPad sleeve.
3) Customisation and personalisation
3D printing allows for the creation of highly customised and personalised options that are tailored to specific customer needs. For example, we can personalise the iPad sleeves to include the owner's name.
4) Reduced waste + on-demand manufacturing
3D printing is a more sustainable manufacturing method than traditional manufacturing methods because it can significantly reduce waste. This is because 3D printing only uses the exact amount of material needed to create the cooling case parts. This also means we can produce the parts as and when they are required, instead of having to shoot out tens of thousands of parts and store them.
The only downside of 3D printing vs Injection Moulding...
is higher costs in the long run. Especially if the quantities produced becomes higher. 3D printing more than 300 parts (or more) is going to start becoming more expensive compared to Injection moulding. When the numbers go up, that's where economies of scale come in with injection moulding.
What about a Hybrid approach?
With our modular design (cooling body + iPad sleeve), we do have the opportunity to produce more of the universal module (cooling body) that can fit different iPad sleeves. So if we produce the cooling body using injection moulding and then 3D print the iPad sleeves, we can reduce some of the costs (if we are making at least 300 units). We can continue to design iPad sleeves to fit different iPad models and still reuse the cooling body. More importantly, we can still take advantage of the 4 benefits mentioned above with this hybrid approach.
Anyway, that is exactly what we are trying to achieve through the iPad mini 6 cooling case Kickstarter campaign. If you would like join us on this hybrid journey, there is still some time. Click on the link below and back the project and also get in on limited early bird and Kickstarter discounts. (-> LINK <-)
The Kickstarter campaign is now over. Even though we did not reach our funding goal, we will still be producing the iPad mini 6 cooling case in small batches. It should be available soon (in 2-3 months) on our website. If you would like to know more, sign up to our newsletter below to stay up to date!