4/22/11
11:52 am

MacMost Now 544: Behind the Scenes At OtterBox

Ever wanted to know what goes into creating iPhone cases? Learn how iPhone and iPad cases are designed and tested at OtterBox, a maker of rugged protective cases. See interviews with designers and technicians and look at some of the equipment they use.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi. This is Gary with MacMost Now. This week I had the chance to visit Otter Box, the makers of great iPhone and iPad cases. They are right up the street from me at Fort Collins, CO. I asked them how they designed and tested their cases.
The first thing you start with is obviously the devise itself and what Otter Box does is we make rugged protection for those devises. So, we start with just the surface itself and we build from there. Otter Box, probably more than any other case manufacturer out there, does rugged protection, so, I mean just looking at this product, you can tell that what we do is just ultimate protection, you know? We're pretty much as close as you can get to building an electronic device itself without having any of the internals. Industrial designer kind of puts together the general look and passes it off to the mechanical engineer who will jump in the CADD and kind of get into the logistics as far as how it's going to snap together, how you're going to retain silicone, plastic, and, for example, in our defender series, kind of the best way to try to make it as rugged as possible and keep that look and, you know, eliminate as much dust and intrusion as possible; just taking a lot of factors into play. Silicon is probably, you know, it's been around since I've been at Otter's, you know, what? It's pretty much on the outside of every devise that we, or every defender case that we have. It's just that it's durable, you know, material; it's really heat resistant; it can take drops extremely well, you know? It's kind of the foundation of what our cases are. And then, we generally, underneath, on defender cases, we have a polycarbonate assembly, so. Polycarbonates are a really good material because, again, it's really drop resistant; it doesn't generally shatter. So, and then on cases, like our tablet cases or, for cases like our tablet cases, we do things like put a soft material on the inside, so, felt or foam or. So, like here on the iPad one we've got this felt liner so when you're sliding your device in there it just kind of cradles in there to make sure it doesn't get scratched on the inside. Otter Box also does things like PC Windows, so if you do have an exposed area we do these vanity windows. Yeah, we definitely try to take both stuff that we learn internally from using our cases and testing, you know we try to test our product as much as possible, as well as taking customer, customer suggestions and, you know, if they have some complaints, taking them to heart and trying to figure out how we can remedy those issues. So, a good example is that typing angle that has a couple of great media modes, but not necessarily one that's great for typing. A lot of customers wanted it and so we incorporated it pretty elegantly, so. Testing, we do a lot internally to test for functionality. Whenever we're designing a case we'll be printing off the prototypes and fitting them to it, and making sure everything is exposed, and as centered as possible, and such things as testing the camera to make sure there's no interference between the flash and the lens so that you're not getting any sort of, any sort of bad effects to the images. With sensors you have your proximity sensors and your ambient light sensors that you have to make sure are accommodated, so we try to do as much in house testing as possible just to make sure. The thing will pull to tell you how many pounds of force it will take to get a device out of the holster to break something, how far away it is, to stretch the silicone. We can also push to see how much force it takes to engage the snaps for the casings. And, with this particular pull tester, we can do elongation; we can set cycles so if we wanted to go a certain amount of cycles; we can measure relaxation rates; just create just about anything you want to measure, it'll measure. I'm sure you know that the Apple is extremely secretive, so it's no different with us. We're, we're no different than your normal consumer. We don't get Apple products early. That said, we have ideas ahead of time that we tend to work on, you know, we can actually almost get a case to where it's ready before we even know what devices, what Apple product, what it's going to be, you know?. But we're still waiting in line out there at Best Buy, so we buy that device then, you know. Over the weekend we'll have tool it, tooled up. You know, we're cutting steal on production, you know, we're getting the gears are in motion from that point on.

Comments: 3 Responses to “MacMost Now 544: Behind the Scenes At OtterBox”

    The Captain
    4/22/11 @ 2:29 pm

    Great behind the scenes video Gary, Thank you! Love Otterbox cases but with my first iPone it would over heat. I’m sure they fixed that by now.

    Sickmoose
    4/28/11 @ 1:21 pm

    I went through 5 cases for my iphone before I finally purchased my otter box. I accidentally broke the belt holster and sent an email to Otterbox asking them how much it would cost for a replacement. 2 days later, I received a replacement belt holster free of charge. This is a fantastic product and an incredible company to deal with. They get a 12 out of 10 from me.

    forkboy1965
    5/2/11 @ 2:56 pm

    When we purchased an iPhone for our daughter we discussed with the AT&T rep her penchant for carelessness with cell phones and we wanted a rugged/durable case. His one and only recommendation was OtterBox.

    It has, I’m certain, saved her phone on numerous occasions from severe damage as I’ve actually seen her drop/sling/knock-off her phone on many occasions.

    It’s nice to see from where her product came. Thanks for sharing.

Comments Closed.