Design for Manufacturing Course 5: Injection Molding - DragonInnovation.com
After watching it I decided to use commodity enclosures with custom milling and avoid injection molding for now.
How did you find your commodity enclosures? It seems like there are a lot of random manufacturers out there making ugly enclosures.
... I thought that was standard teachings in mechanical engineering?
logistics(a)parklink.asia (apologies for the non personal email address, don't want to put my personal on the public forum)
And no one else could mimic their style, since it was just too difficult.
Lean did it because he could and because it reinforced the messianic oveure into which the character had fallen. And because it looked amazing in all that light. It still does. The failed theater at which I first saw this on posters kept that image for ten years or more.
But understood in the context of all that history, we gain that Lawrence was the agent of so much destruction. Destruction that we barely understand now.
So I hope all that gleaming white was worth it. Because I'd hate to think of the price we paid to get away from putty color.
Where does this "filth" idea come from?
My take on the movie is that this was being communicated as a character detail of Lawrence, part of the messianic nature of the character.
When the first iPod came out in 2001, Apple wasn't the behemoth it is now; its market cap was around $7 billion (http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Apple_(AAPL)/Data/Market_Capi...). At that time, many companies could have paid as much attention to design as Apple did.
The magic of Apple isn't their design, it's the ability to re-create and distribute good design cheaper than Braun. 
Especially since we're talking about 20 and 50 year old designs at the time -- it's not like copying this year's hot product to sell a cheap imitation. Totally different era, totally different functionality, totally different devices -- but borrowing the old visual style.
The magic of Apple is the functionality and thinking behind their devices. There are tons of same looking competitor devices that get it wrong.
E.g. the whole idea behind the unibody design is not the seam-less look, it's the sturdiness and tolerance of the materia. Competitors copy the overall look and color, but leave out both the seam-lessness AND the sturdiness.
Or take touches like the mag safe port, the touch trackpad, the no-button trackpad, the first to come out with the hi-dpi display -- plus the thinking that goes into ensuring good battery life, small weight, and thinness along with said sturdiness. Competitors often leave out one or more of these -- which are all important for a laptop.
Where Apple fails, OTOH, is their occasional cheapness, still selling embarrassing starter configurations (memory, disk-size wise). Of course if they do sell these, and buyers have no problem, kudos to them, but one would expect more, since that's too is part of the whole experience, even if the buyer thinks 128 GB SSD is good for them.
This is my main machine (a laptop) for work and home.
Never had a problem and I don't expect to have a problem before the laptop fails.
As for the entry level MacBook Air, for my work the CPU is a little slow, and I would probably boost the RAM for the occasional "lets open everything", but I see no reason to increase the SSD size unless it is trivially cheap. Each to their own though.
Since Apple has huge volumes, they can dedicate machines to injecting a single mold, and ensure that plastic colorants are matched across batches; the rest of us (with volumes of less than ~100-500k/yr) have to settle for grey.
If anyone wants to chat about part design and manufacture, let me know.
I ask in seriousness, as commodity smartphones with small production runs, less than 100k, and earphones, even USB cables, now exist at very low prices, production runs and seemingly margins.
Or has the mold part got easier, allowing different shapes/sizes without burning, and the colourants / dedicated white production line now standardised?
Molding parts has gotten a little easier over the last 10 years. Molding machines are more easily tuned, and CFD tools have gotten much better and easier to use. The Bolt post is addressing new companies with 1k-100k/yr volumes and less expertise than Apple, and the post is largely correct.
After reading further comments I decided to compare all of the white plastic devices I have, and they're all a often noticeably different colour, even on different parts of the same device.
I suggest you write a series of blog posts that explain interesting bits and quirks of manufacturing processes that the rest of us outside of the industry don't really think about.
It's a way that you can help inform the world, and also capitalize off of your knowledge! Please consider it :)
Color match is still rough though.
> What happened when Apple wanted to CNC machine a million MacBook bodies a year? They bought 10k CNC machines to do it.
CNC milling scales linearly. If you want to make 1k things per year, you can probably do it with one CNC machine. I know a startup that's using CNC-milled enclosures and that's probably the single easiest part of their production.
Sure, startups won't buy 10k CNC machines, but they won't need them either.
It's hard to believe that Apple needed one CNC machine for every 100 (was 10, oops) MacBooks. The MacBook isn't that expensive.
I'd imagine they probably use them for more than just MacBooks as well but I'm just inferencing and don't have any real idea.
Apple can always call Foxconn and tell them that they want even this barely visible detail fixed. Foxconn comes up with number for changes in the manufacturing processes ($10 million for better tooling for example) and it's done. Small manufacturers who have low margins can't justify similar attention to detail.
Why is that?
I'm trying to build a better quick release plate for DSLR cameras, compatible with Manfrotto tripods but that lets you do a couple of other things (like attach a hand strap to it directly).
I had prototypes made in China with CNC machining, and they are of a very good quality (superb, even, it seems to me).
For production, injection molding is of a reasonnable price but the result would not be the same quality (plastic is a poor choice for this).
Die casting is too expensive for the volume, given it's really a niche product.
So I was thinking of doing short runs with CNC: what' wrong with that option?
I'm not sure the quoted statement is fully correct, CNC and Casting are processes and each have advantages as well as capabilities the other cannot easily replicate. (Try casting threaded holes -- there are ways to add threading to a casting process, but it's not the same.)
I think the original quote intended to convey the following idea, instead of never CNC: if you have a high-volume product, while CNC machining can effectively handle shaping operations, casting will be less expensive for shaping in the long run, leaving CNC to more difficult to cast operations and final product fit.
In the camera market, there are tons of companies selling equipment in thousands and tens of thousands of units that are fully-CNC'ed and no casting. (See Kessler, Dynamic Perception, CamBLOCK, etc.)
The major advantage of CNC though is that if you mess up the first time, you haven't ruined an entire batch. You just send the new model to the company. With molding or die casting, fuckups can easily cost tens of thousands.
If your margin can absorb the cost of CNC - and for photography it's probably a marketing feature - go for it. Plenty of companies sell CNC machined housing simply because they can say it's CNC'd and people go "ooooh".
Does it make sense to do metal casting for low volume (under 1k)? It would be economic nonsense anyway...?
We're not creating a whole new system, just an alternative. And as a start we will be Mamfrotto compatible only, since that's what we use. I could be wrong but Kirk doesn't do Manfrotto at all.
"Unless you’re a billionaire genius, your product will have noticeable ejector pin marks. A good CM knows how to hide these well. Nearly zero CMs hide them as well as Apple does."
We've never really seen production at Apple/Samsung's scale before and I wonder if this quality curve is something that is all that well understood.
Then take a look at Six Sigma.
Small batches can be made by experts and thoroughly inspected; but it is prohibitively expensive to scale up artisans and inspections, both in complexity and quantity.
Perhaps there are artisan niches where a machine cannot do the work, and a human slaves over the minute details, but those are usually luxury items.
Very much OT, but that's because the pan or iron isn't hot enough. Ever since I started first putting the pan on the fire, then mix my batter while the pan heats up, my first pancake has been as good as every one after that.
(sorry to contaminate the discussion with this, but I found it much more satisfying than I would think is normal when I got a process down that stopped me from looking like an amateur pancake maker, which is why I figured I'd share :) )
Also sorry to contaminate the thread.
Abstracted code often leads to less efficient performance. With large volume, every bit of optimization matters, and Apple has that money to squash the last bit out of it.
I think the challenges they've had are similar to what is touched upon in this article.
They've had a ton of clearance and molding issues, and dozens of design prototypes and mismatching parts. To add to the difficulties, the coffee grinder has moving parts that take a lot of stress, as opposed to just a box with a circuit board inside.
A small startup can't just get Samsung and Foxconn to build their parts. This is true.
Source: I've worked with ex-Apple engineers at a company that mostly used Apple's hardware processes.
In the lost interview of Steve Jobs, Jobs says this:
I’ll give you an example. When we were building our Apple computers in a garage, we knew exactly what they cost. When we got into a factory in the Apple II days, the accountants had this notion of a standard cost, where you kind of set a standard cost and at the end of the quarter, you would adjust it with a variance. I kept asking: why do we do this? The answer was, “That’s just the way it’s done.”
After about six months of digging into this, I realized that the reason they did this is that they didn’t have good enough controls to know how much it’s going to cost. So you guess. And then you fix your guess at the end of the quarter. And the reason you don’t know how much it costs is because your information systems aren’t good enough. But nobody said it that way.
So later on, when we designed this automated factory for the Macintosh, we were able to get rid of a lot of these antiquated concepts and know exactly what something cost.
If you know what exactly something costs during manufacturing, now you can optimize it.