The Flipper's housing consists of 11 (sic!) plastic parts made by injection molding. This is the most effective way to get quality parts in mass production. For this purpose, molds are made for each part (or a group of parts). Typically, each mold consists of two main halves and many auxiliary parts and mechanisms. Plastic will be fed under high pressure into the cavities in the mold through the inner channels.
We are currently finalising the last details with the tooling factory, which will produce all the Flipper's plastic parts in high volumes.
There are many ways to make a device body: milling, 3D printing, vacuum casting into silicone molds, etc. But all of them are not optimal for mass production, when it is necessary to produce tens and hundreds of thousands of parts. In our case, the only acceptable option is the injection molding. This method allows to produce as many parts as possible with a low overall cost and high repeatability.
The process is divided into two main phases: production of the molds and production of the plastic parts batch. The molds are made using the electrical discharge and CNC milling machines, then polished and/or textured with etching or laser engraving processes. The cost of making one of these is thousands of dollars, and the cost of making a mistake is very high, both in money and time. Therefore, we carefully check all the housing parts details before starting the tooling production.
Pay no attention to colors, here are different textures of surfaces are shown in different colors. The green color shows a slightly rough, pleasant to touch surface. CN-V0030 marking means the grain of this texture, that is, how rough the surface will be. Dark red are smooth polished surfaces.
The logo on the main body will be applied by silkscreen printing.
Hints for the GPIO pins will be marked with a laser. Because of the small symbols, silkscreen printing in this case gives less contrast and readability.
To help you understand which side is correct to insert an SD card (in which direction the corner is), we decided to add a handy pictogram. It will also be laser marked.
This "glass" is inserted between the display and the main body. It will protect against direct contact with the display. Thus its surface should be perfectly smooth.
Light Guide for a Status LED
The status RGB LED is located deep in the body - on the PCB. In order to see this light on the surface, a plastic pipe - a light guide - is placed on top of the LED through which the light goes up. It also "mixes" different colors of RGB for uniform intermediate colors, such as white or yellow.
The infrared port is covered by a dark red window whose material cuts off the visible light but is transparent to the IR spectrum. Besides the decorative function this filter improves the quality of IR signal reception. Those are the same ones as on your TV remotes.
The buttons have three details: a joystick circle, a central button, and a back button. They are assembled in a special frame and are spring-loaded for a more elastic stroke.
There’s a strap hole on Flipper’s corner. A separate insert is made to prevent the entire load of the strap from taking on the thin outer corner. This increases the holding load by several times. The exact figures of the holding load will be given later when the molding using final materials is ready.
Buttons and Screen Frame
This part positions the screen, distributes the load on the main body and the screen protector, and works as a frame for spring-loaded buttons.
This part is inserted into the bottom part of the body between the battery and the RFID PCB and serves for many functions: positioning the battery, fixing the FFCs, as well as fixing the iButton+IR and RFID PCBs.
The bottom marking is shown as an example. Unfortunately, there is no way to get rid of it, as well as make it smaller — certification has a strict size and visibility guidelines. It’s funny how some companies hide these pictograms in the weirdest places for aesthetics purposes. For example, in Apple AirPods headphones case, these pictograms are hidden inside a folding lid. We don’t have any hidden surfaces, so the only option is to put them on the bottom cover. What witty inscriptions would you like to put next to "Assembled in China"?