With the steady rise of smartphone usage in the last five years or so, mobile phone accessories have also gained a lot of popularity with the masses.
While there are a lot of accessories available for smartphones, only a handful are actually useful. And one of the most useful accessories available today is probably cases for smartphones.
Smartphones have indeed evolved to become very technologically advanced and sophisticated. They are capable of doing things that we would have never dreamed off a decade ago.
However, as mobile phones have become more advanced, they have also become more and more fragile. Smartphone manufacturers will, of course, tell you that their products are capable of protecting themselves from most common accidents. But none of us a willing to trust their word, and take a chance especially if the smartphone is expensive.
According to a survey, people who don’t use mobile phone cases are 70 percent more likely to damage their phones compared to people who use protective covers.
As a result, mobile phone cases have become very popular and today the cell phone cover industry has transformed into a multi-billion dollar industry. No matter what mobile case or cover you require – ranging from extremely rugged cases to ultra-thin covers – it is all there.
People generally ask a lot of questions while shopping for a mobile back cover. They are concerned about the phone case material, quality, protection capability, durability, design, colour, style and value for money.
One question that no one really asks (but dying to know the answer to) is how exactly mobile back covers are made.
So in this article, we will be explaining in loving detail how different types of smartphones (cases and covers) are made.
The first thing you ought to know is almost every mobile case available in the world is made in Asia (mainly China and Taiwan). Now that we have this small detail out of the way, let’s look at how different materials cases are exactly manufactured.
Process of how mobile cases are manufactured:
1. Plastic Cases Manufacturing Process
There are basically three types of plastics used in the making cases. These are hard, soft and hybrid plastics. While hard plastic cases are made up of either polycarbonate, hard polyurethane or polypropylene, soft plastic covers are manufactured from regular polyurethane or thermoplastic polyurethane. Hybrid plastic cases, on the other hand, are made from a combination of the aforesaid compounds.
Plastic cases are made with a custom-designed machine known as an injection mold. This machine is made with a mold base crafted from several chromium steel bars that are merged together into a block.
A mold maker is used to shape the metal mold base into the desired shape. Holes are drilled into the mold for cooling fluids. Finally, once the mold base attains the correct design, it is smoothed and polished.
Once it is ready, hold plastic (either hard, soft or hybrid) is poured into the injection mold. After that, cooling fluids are poured through the holes to help the plastic harden and cool. The plastic, which has now become hard, is then popped out of the mold, polished, decorated with appropriate patterns and style, packed and shipped.
2. Silicone Cases Manufacturing Process
Silicone is a form of synthetic rubber that is used in a wide range of products including automotive applications, food storage products, clothing, footwear, electronics, medical devices and implants.
Its elasticity and cushioning properties have also made a popular material in the manufacture of mobile covers and cases. The manufacturing process of silicone is pretty similar to plastic, albeit it is made with a different machine.
A compression mold machine is usually used to manufacture silicone mobile phone cases. In this method, the pre-heated silicone material is placed in an open, heated mold cavity. The mold is then closed and pressure is applied until the material is shaped into the desired design.
To put it in simple terms, a compression mold machine works by forcing soft silicone into desired shapes. Silicone cases are put under a lot of pressure for a long duration in the compression mold machine. This is done so that the product does not lose its shape.
After the newly shaped silicone is removed from the mold, it is trimmed, painted, packaged and shipped off.
3. Wooden Cases Manufacturing Process
Wooden cases are usually pretty expensive as it is made up of bamboo, teak or elm. While some are crafted by hand (which are bound to be even more expensive), most are factory made with a computer numerical control machine.
Before we go any further, let us briefly understand what a computer numerical control machine is and how it works. The CNC machine, as the name suggests, is a machine that works automatically with the help of its inbuilt mini-computer.
The instructions are fed through a small keyboard into the mini-computer, where they are stored in the system’s memory. After that, the CNC machine carries out the task with absolute precision.
So most wooden case are usually manufactured using the CNC machine, which accurately carves the wood into the desired case design. The main advantage of using a CNC machine is that manufacturers are able to mass produce wooden cases quickly and accurately.
4. Leather Cases Manufacturing Process
One of the oldest material to be used by man, leather is made from animal hide usually through the process of tanning.
There are basically three types of leather used to make mobile phone cases: aniline leather, semi-aniline leather and pigmented leather:
While aniline leather is the most natural leather (with visible pores, scars that were once in the skin), it is less durable and prone to wear and tear and fungal infestations.
Semi-aniline leather, on the other hand, is more durable but less natural looking compared to aniline leather. Finally, pigmented leather is the most durable and the least natural looking among the three.
Like wooden cases, many leather cases, which are usually folio-styled, are handcrafted. However, handcrafted are usually very expensive and more prone to wear and tear.
Most leather cases, however, are produced in factories, the same way clothes and apparel are manufactured.
After case designers come up with a design, a template is made and sent to the factory. The leather is then sewn together with strong thread by heavy-duty machines. After that additional things are added to the case depending on the design.
Leather cases are usually supplemented with either hard plastic or aluminium to make them sturdier and more durable. Finally, the cases are polished, branded, customised, packed and shipped.
5. Metal Cases Manufacturing Process
Metal cases are not usually people’s first choice, with most preferring to buy a silicone, plastic or a leather case. This is because metal cases are usually bulky, slippery and expensive.
However, metal cases also come with a lot of pros as they offer some quality protection, look classy and prevent your device from overheating.
Though cell phone cases are made from a number of metals and alloys, lightweight aluminium is generally preferred. This is due to the fact that aluminium is light in addition to being strong and durable.
Metal cases are also made with the help of a CNC machine. The instructions are fed to the mini-computer, and the machine starts automatically producing metal cases with absolute precision.
The process of manufacturing metal cases is somewhat similar to the process of making plastic cases, where the molten material is poured into a case shaped mold, put under pressure and cooled until it solidifies into the desired shape. However, unlike plastic, molten metal requires more time to cool.
Many metal cases are also further processed (microarc oxidation or plasma electrolytic oxidation) to make them tougher and more durable. Finally, the metal cases are cleaned, polished, painted, packed and shipped.
How are designs and patterns printed on mobile cases
Almost every case available these days (except leather) have images of abstract patterns, cartoon characters, quotes, animals or other designs printed on the back.
How you ever wondered how manufacturers like stylebaby.com, zazzle.com and case-mate.com print these images on mobile phone cases?
Most manufacturers have special printers that directly transfer the image on the surface of the mobile phone cover. These printers are capable of printing images on several covers at once.
Some use a process called Spot UV Printing to print images and designs on mobile phone covers. In this process, a layer of paint is applied on the surface of the phone cover and exposed to ultraviolet light.
The UV light dries and hardens the paint. The phone cover is then varnished so that the image doesn’t fade or peel off.