Do you ever think about how phone case gets made?
Your cell phone case is something you see and hold in your hand every day. Do you ever think about how that case gets made?
Several of our customers at sincocase.com have asked us that question, so we did some research to come up with a good answer. No matter what type of case you have, it’s likely it was manufactured in Asia or somewhere else overseas. After that, there’s some real variety in the process.
How your case gets made depends on what type of case you have. We break down the different materials cases are made of and share some information about how each is manufactured.
How hard plastic cases are made
Hard plastic cases are typically made from polycarbonate or polypropylene. They are made with a custom-designed product called an injection mold.
According to YouTube video, an injection mold starts with a mold base from several chromium steel bars that are fused together into a block. A mold maker uses a computer numerical control (or CNC) machine to slowly and carefully shape the mold into the appropriate design. Holes are drilled into mold to allow cooling fluids to enter into the mold and help the plastic harden. Once the mold is the correct shape, it gets smoothed and polished to remove any rough edges. After that it is ready for action.
Hot plastic is injected into the mold and forms the correct shape. Fluid is poured in to help it harden and cool rapidly. The design is popped out and the machine is ready to be used again.
How silicone cases are made
Silicone is similar to plastic but made with slightly different materials. Cell phone cases made with this slippery, rubber-like are usually made in a compression mold.
Like the name says, a compression mold works by compressing soft materials into certain shapes. Imagine a solid cookie cutter that has a sharp edge for cutting all the way through the dough and a design printed on the inside (need some help with that? Check out this Batman cookie cutter from ThinkGeek). You press that cookie cutter into soft dough to replicate that shape.
Now imagine having two cookie cutters that come at the dough from both sides to create a more three-dimensional object with details on the both the top and bottom. You get the idea.
When a cell phone case or other object is formed with a compression mold, it is placed under an enormous amount of pressure for a longer period of time (picture of football player sitting on those cookie cutters from several minutes). This helps ensure the shape will hold. After the shape is removed from the mold, there are typically rough edges that need to be trimmed off to make the final shape. Add a couple more finished touches, like paint and packaging, and the cell phone case is ready to go.
How wood cell phone cases are made
Stylish wood cell phone cases can be made at home uses tools like a jigsaw and drill press. If you’re a DIY fan, try it out (and let us know how it goes!). However, we’re willing to bet that most wood cell phone cases (including those made with renewable, beautiful bamboo) are made using a CNC machine.
As we mentioned above, CNC stands for computer numerical control. These machines are hooked up to a computer, which gives the machine instructions for cutting or carving a piece of material. The advantage to a CNC machine is that you can make things quickly, accurately and repetitively.
The wood cases themselves can be cut and shaped using a CNC machine. The carving you see on the backs of these cases is likely also done with a CNC machine. It is relatively easy to program a computer to carve in custom designs from a photograph, hand drawn or computer drawn object.
How leather cell phone cases are made
If you’re just curious how the leather (or imitation leather) case you’ve already purchased was made, it’s pretty similar to the way clothing or other leather items are made. Patternmakers design cell phone cases and make templates for cutting them out of leather. The cases are sewn together using heavy-duty machines and strong thread. If your leather case is also a wallet, or has a strap to keep your phone in place, the manufacturer may add a button or snaps.
The biggest difference between a leather cell phone holder and a leather jacket is that the manufacturer may add a piece of plastic to protect the screen.
Leather cell phone cases can be customized with designs that are branded, engraved or stitched into the material.
How printed graphics and embellishments are applied to cell phone cases
Many people enjoy customized cases with sports team logos, cartoon characters, peace signs, animals or other designs emblazoned on the back. According to an article from HubPages, manufacturers use a process called Spot UV Printing to add these designs. In this process, a layer of paint is applied to a hard surface like a plastic cell phone case. After that, UV light is used to “cure” or harden the paint and keep it in place.
After that, the surface is varnished to help protect the paint and prevent it from chipping or fading. The varnish can be matte or shiny depending on the designer’s preferred look.
Rhinestones, metal brads and other embellishments can be glued onto your case to make it shine and shimmer in the light. You can let the manufacturer do that, or you can purchase kits designed to let you add your own bling to your cell phone case.