I thought it was about time I opened up a discussion on the ModMyPi cases here, so if anyone has any questions they can ask away! First of all I'll give a little update on where we are with our Raspberry Pi Cases.
First of all I want to apologise for being so quiet over the last two weeks. Since the launch of the ModMyPi Raspberry Pi case we’ve been working 14 hour days (as you will know if you emailed me at 12pm) to get our cases ready for manufacture. The demand and support has been absolutely overwhelming, so I would personally like to thank everyone who emailed us to offer their support, and to everyone who has already pre-ordered.
Due to the volume of orders received, 3D printing of the ModMyPi Raspberry Pi Case has simply become unviable. At a maximum production rate of 10 cases a day we would have required a great deal more printers than we have available here to manufacture them at the required rate. Added to that is the post-processing essential to obtain the desired finish and we have an unviable production method. Not to worry though, I have a great many friends in the manufacturing business. . . .
We have therefore taken the decision to upgrade from 3D printing to injection moulding. Injection moulding requires a ‘tool’ or mould of the object to be created, usually out of solid steel or aluminium. Molten plastic is then literally squirted into the mould at a high pressure and then cooled to rapidly manufacture that object. Basically, this means we can produce more in the region of 100+ cases a day; a much more viable number.
Injection moulding does require a significant initial investment, as can be seen by the various Raspberry Pi crowd funding case projects. We decided that the initial demand warranted this investment, and a quick phone call to the bank manager later, and we have it. Hence there will be no waiting whilst we try and cobble together the funds. We have that funding ready now.
With regards to tooling, it was preferable for us to have the tool manufactured in the UK. This would both reduce the lead time (the time it takes for the tool to be prepared) and, in a small way, support the UK manufacturing industry. The lead time can be significant, anything up to around 8 weeks, but as I said, it’s all about friends in high places. We have secured a UK tool manufacturer, and we have managed to cut this lead time down to a 4 week maximum including prototyping and testing. Once this is completed we can start manufacturing them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
There are a number of factors that led us to select injection moulding in the end:
The aesthetic quality of injection moulded parts is much higher straight out of the mould.
The quantities that we can produce are greater.
The post processing required is eradicated.
There is a greater selection of colours and materials available (I’ll hit that a bit later)
Object standardisation and precision is much higher.
With regards to finalising our designs, we have some really great news. A certain someone (who I won’t name to obvious reasons but who I am eternally grateful to) who has been included in the first batch of boards is allowing us access to their Raspberry Pi board from the very second that they receive it. I have been informed that this will be within two weeks. This means we have an opportunity to both finalise our designs on a real Raspberry Pi, and test out all the bits in our set-up kits.
So here’s a quick rundown. We have funding. We have tooling ready to be made. We have our final design and within two weeks we will have a Raspberry Pi to finalise our measurements. Basically, we are looking at a timescale of a maximum of 6 weeks from today until full scale manufacture, which will be the 25th of May.
We would also like to invite you to join us in this process. Personally I have never been so intimately involved with an injection moulding project and I will be regularly visiting the factory to obtain video footage of the entire concept to tooling to moulding process. If you’re interested I will be regularly uploading some videos to YouTube and on the ModMyPi blog. I will also look into uploading some videos of the Selective Layer Sintering Process that we are currently using to manufacture our prototypes.
Finally, the company we selected for our case manufacture has been looking at a way of integrating recycling into their manufacture process. Or rather, create a product which can focus on using recycled material. One of the materials which they regularly send off for recycling is a transparent ABS plastic, and I’ve had a great deal of requests for a transparent case. We will therefore be introducing a new Raspberry Pi Case to the ModMyPi range. The Recycled Raspberry, which will be made from 100% recycled translucent ABS plastic.
So what does this mean about the ModMyPi case design? Only one negative change, as the parts will be produced in a mould, there will be no way to add a unique case number. It is sad, but this is the trade-off unfortunately. In terms of you sending us case designs, we will still be operating the 3D printing side of the business, e.g. embossing etc. So we would still love to hear from you with regards to any projects you would like us to have a go at.
Here’s a list of the new features and changes to the ModMyPi case:
Cases now have a VESA MIS-D 75 compatible mounting option
GPIO ‘Cut-Out’ access hatch has been integrated
Increased LAN access to allow for easier RJ45 cable removal
USB Hood has been reduced to allow universal USB integration
Micro-USB and HDMI Ports have been widened to allow for overlarge connectors.
Modified the snap fit mechanism which means it is more secure
The number of ventilation holes has been reduced to diminish any risk of dust.
The Recycled Raspberry will be available very soon.
At the moment we have a few SLS prototypes in the pipeline. Each case has a unique prototype number from 1 to 10. These cases will be modelled on a real Raspberry Pi and here’s a chance for you to win one. FYI these SLS prototypes cost around £20 each to make. . . . .
We have decided to give 5 of these cases away to you, the Raspberry Pi community. All you have to do to be entered into the draw to win one is like us on Facebook. Head over to our Facebook page hit like you're entered. The competition will close on April the 25th and winners will be announced then. http://www.facebook.com/ModMyPi
The other five cases are going on EBay as a charity auction where all profits will go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This auction will run for 7 days from the date we finalise our designs, so if you’re inner philanthropist is screaming to be released, chuck in a quick bid. We’ll keep you updated on that.
Pictures of the prototypes and final designs are now available on the ModMyPi blog. http://www.modmypi.blogspot.co.uk/
I really hope that everyone is happy about this change and, as always, we are offering full refunds.
I'm getting a few more prototypes made up this weekend so I'll take some nice shiny promo pics on Monday hopefully to replace these renders.
Phew! Sorry if that was a bit of an essay!