Kaj Niegmann's profile

Material6 iPhone 5

Material6 for iPhone 5

Designed and took to manufacture an iPhone 5(s) case for Material6. Visited and sourced factories in the USA while working directly with their engineering teams to resolve mass production issues. 

Built by us, designed by you.

The Material6 iPhone case combines natural materials with a unique band and back panel system. Each case is handmade from curly figured cherry, south american rosewood, birdseye maple, or walnut providing each back with a one of a kind wood grain. Only the highest quality materials and finishes are combined to make the customers design truly unique. All of the cases are designed, manufactured, assembled, and packaged in the United States with quality that can only be created by hand - one piece at a time. 
Previous iPhone 4/4S product
My challenge was to take the previous Material6 design for the iPhone 4/4S and create a product for the iPhone 5/5S that matched its precision and quality. Since the iPhone 5/5S doesn't have a removable back, a traditional snap on case was chosen. Instead of hiding the world class design by Apple, a translucent Makrolon Polycarbonate band allows the phone to shine through. Polished chamfers and textured sides highlight the clean lines of the case while minimizing the visibility of seams caused by the tooling process.
Numerous designs were tested for function, form, and high tolerances. Exploring simple snap-fits, locking tabs, and friction fit mechanisms turned out a lot of failures and a couple successes. The final design came down to the simplest attachment interation and meeting manufacturing cost constraints.
Dozens of materials and finishes were prototyped for the back panels. How the camera interfaced with the panel was a special area of focus; the recommended keep-out area produced undesirable results and possible lens/microphone/flash cutouts had to be stringently tested to insure zero interference with the camera operations. 
Only the highest quality woods and finishes were chosen for the initial product roll-out. All the wood is FSC certified to guarantee a sustainable supply of harvested material. 
One of the biggest challenges was finding a US manufacturer that could meet our quality, cost, and timeline requirements. After discussing the project with over a dozen manufacturers, we chose DT Manufacturing of Detroit, Michigan, to perform the tooling and injection molding. I worked with their engineering team to solve problems relating to undercuts and the locations of the gate, lifters, and ejectors.
I was responsible for all website renderings that contributed to the virtual product tree. This allowed users to customize their phone case and see live changes before they made a purchase. The interface would show endless phone band, back panel, and engraving options.

Project Team: Matt Turner, Randy Lively

kniegmann@gmail.com     |     instagram.com/nicenoisy

Material6 iPhone 5

Material6 iPhone 5

The Material6 iPhone case combines natural materials with a unique band and back panel system. Each case is handmade from curly figured cherry, s Read More


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