Getting cases injection molded

Helno, 07 July 2017

So I thought I would do a little write up on how this case came to be.

I have been designing 3d printable cases since the beginning of this project and have gone through a few generations as things changed and people wanted to do different things.

After the number of users took off and people starting selling hardware I was approached to look into designing something for injection molding. The tooling costs were very high and with the potential for a form factor change with the pi zero it was decided not to proceed. In the meantime I took the design and continued to refine it and about a year ago had a design that worked really well and I could reliably 3d print them. I sold quite a few of these over the last year.

During the last year the form factor became more certain since the pi zero turned to be a non-starter and the alternatives had similar availability issues. The thought of injection molding always was there on the back burner but cost kept it there.

Last winter Chris took a trip to Shenzhen where most of the parts that make this project possible are made and contacts were made with manufacturers. One of them was an injection molding company. We sent them a design and a 3d printed case and got an estimate that made financial sense. So we proceeded with getting the model updated and then production tooling machined. The changes required to accommodate molding were subtle, draft angle was added as well as lip features and metal nut inserts. I printed out the modified design and ensured that things still fit as well as we expected and the tooling was ordered.

It took around 20 days to get the tool made and the first parts were made. We tested these rough untextured parts to ensure fitment and the mold was then textured.

The first production prototypes arrived shortly after that and then it was ready for full on production. The first batch arrived last week and shipping promptly got delayed by the holiday. However it appears that the first customers are getting there cases today, so enjoy.

A big thank you to those who purchased the cases while I was making them and proving that the design worked well and was reliable. And another thanks to those of you that patiently waited for the pre-orders to arrive.

Purchasing hardware from those of us that participate in the development keep the project going and improving. We have come a long way. Then Now