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Video CES: American-Made, Industrial-Strength Smartphone and Tablet Cases (Video) 57

Even the most loving fathers tend to get upset when their kids destroy "...VCRs, DVD players, a Nintendo Wii, a Sony PS3, [and] numerous mobile phones." With smart phones costing lots more than older stupid phones, and most tablets costing even more, Greg Pilling decided to make aluminum and plexiglass smartphone and tablet cases strong enough to be, if not childproof, at least child-resistant. Since he owned an auto parts manufacturing company in Tucson, AZ, it was no big deal for him. So now he has SASCASE as a second business, and can make you a case for almost any kind of mobile device you might own. His cases look plenty tough, and they aren't cheap. But if you want to save money and make your own, Greg says plans for all cases he makes are open source (even though they aren't on his website yet). Also on the open source front, he is working on an open source "ruggedized" tablet he hopes to bring to market "in the $300-$400 range" to compete with the Panasonic 7” Toughpad that runs more like $1100.

Greg: I am Greg from Sascase and I am here to show you my new line of aluminum and plexiglass tablet and phone cases. This is a product made from necessity. My children kept stealing my iPad so I was really afraid that they would destroy it, and since I have an auto parts manufacturing company, I just made a case at work.

Later on, for Christmas, I bought them all Vizio tablets at Costco and one thing I found quickly is when you buy a non-I device, you can’t get a case for it. So I went down and made cases for all of them, engraved each with their name on it so they wouldn’t fight over them (which by the way didn’t work, they kept fighting).

And what happened is, over time, friends saw it and they wanted a case for their phone, a new phone came out, we wanted one, Amber got an iPhone 5, she wanted one. Before we knew it, we had 16 products and we had a company. So we came to CES to show it off, and on the first day we ran out of business cards.

These are made two ways: They are made of aluminum laser cut with a pin pressed in for a nice solid connection. Or we also make them laser cut acrylic with a standoff, which is a less expensive way, although it is not as strong. Like everything else in the technology business, you get what you pay for.

One thing that people like about it, is we’ve decided to open source the design. So if somebody has their own laser cutter and they want to make their own acrylic case they can. Or if they want to make some sort of attachment or bracket or mounting system, they can do it.

And in a few months, we hope to release open tablet that will be customizable. We are going to work with some suppliers in Shenzen to get the main board and the screens, and we will be making the case and assembling ourselves in Tucson.

I am doing it mostly because you can’t get everything you want out of an i-device or a standard off-the-shelf unit. And I’ve got an autoparts manufacturing operation, and one of the jobs I wanted to do is put a touchscreen tablet on to my 45-year-old bandsaw. And just bring modern computerization in some of my old equipment. And other people have told me that they want to do the exact same thing.

Well, it is very industrial looking. So some people love it or they hate it. And I am okay with that. What makes it strong is glass as a material is quite strong inherently; it is what fiberglass is made of, of course. And what we do is by sandwiching this, we add some beam strength to it, and we prevent the glass from breaking when it hits on an impact.

If you look on the poster board, you can see the shot of where my son dropped his tablet continuously on the top floor and all that happened was it bent the corner. It is much like a crumple zone in a car. The case takes the beating, you can just straighten it out later.

Our biggest story is somebody dropped their iPhone off the jetway getting into a 737, and it dropped 20 feet down, straight on to concrete and hit on the corner. The case was destroyed but the phone was perfectly fine. Not a scratch on it.

Tim Lord: You have what a two-step process for custom manufacturing?

Greg: Well I don’t know if it is two step. Mostly we just get somebody to hand us their device and we whip one up pretty quick. I have got my Galaxy Note here and we pulled this together in about half an hour on Saturday before we left for the show.

So because we do everything ourselves in-house, it is quite easy to customize stuff and do it quickly. We hope to have it, so if somebody has an off brand tablet in the near future, they can just give us the dimensions and we can make them a one-of-one case.

So, we usually prototype on the acrylic as it is cheaper and easier and then when we have a design nailed down, we’ll move to aluminum which is more expensive to work in but ultimately makes a better product.

Tim: Do you use the same tool for aluminum and plexiglass?

Greg: No we use a totally different machine. This one is done on a 3000 watt Trumpf laser, this one is done on a 25 watt Trotec desktop type laser that you might see people use for engraving, a lot of hobbyists, a lot of hackers have them these days, lot of makers. We will have the files – you will be able to 3D print it if you want also, but if anyone has got any experience with a 3D printer, I have got three of them, you’ll know it is not going to be strong as aluminum.

Tim: If somebody wants to get these open source case designs, where would they go to do that?

Greg: They can go to Sascase, which is just the name of the company,, and they should see it up in a few weeks. I think there is only a splash page there with an email address to register, but we didn’t have time, we literally started driving for the CES before we had our booth locked down.


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CES: American-Made, Industrial-Strength Smartphone and Tablet Cases (Video)

Comments Filter:
  • by Frohboy ( 78614 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @06:41PM (#43009005)

    If you want to learn nothing about the Toughpad, but have fun while doing so, I suggest the following article: []

  • Articlew is just advertising.

    Also what are all those lumps on the cases about? They make it look industrial but I think it is just for the look.

    • It looks like they intentionally make the outer edge of the case more malleable so that it will absorb the force of an impact instead of sending the shock trough the device hidden within.
  • He talks and talks no data on how well the device protects the product. How about some drop tests and Impact tests comparing unprotected and protected product. My guess is that anything that really protects it will make it unusable.
  • Great; I got intercepted by my company's web filter for trying to access a porn site for that link to sascase dot com. Anyone else get that?

    • To be fair, the filter probably had too much alcohol and too many hard disk crashes the night before. I would've read it as asscase dot com and did a double take too in that case.

    • Great; I got intercepted by my company's web filter for trying to access a porn site for that link to sascase dot com.

      I find a lot of corporate web filters are incredibly stupid.

      I once tried to go the web site for a local yoga place, and the filter claimed it was 'alternative spirituality' or something, like that matters. Blue Goat or something I think it was. I sent them an email telling them categorizing the site like that was stupid, and they eventually did fix it.

      From what I've seen, an awful lot of

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even the most loving *fathers* tend to get upset when their kids destroy

  • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @08:56PM (#43010305)

    Making a ruggedized product has more to do with component selection and layout than it does with a tougher case. Failures happen when components become dislodged from the mobo's, not when the case cracks. In fact, the case cracking could be helping the computer/device because it's going to use energy that otherwise might go towards prying components off their pads.

    A ruggedized computer is not simply the same as a non-rugged version crammed into a heavier case. A waterproof and dustproof version is, though.

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.