Having a case manufactured?

My brother and I designed a computer case and are wondering if anybody here knows how to go about getting a prototype made and then manufactured for the public. I'm not talking about a one-off custom case. 

This seemed like the most appropriate forum, but forgive me if this would've been better in another section, possibly INBOX.EXE?

Cheers and thanks for your patience!

You need to find a sheet metal fabricator in your area, give them your cad files or drawing and they will make you a prototype. 

Once you have the design fully prototyped you can then arrange the same fabricators to manufacture the case or depending on volume look at far east fabrication. 

Yes, but it's a bit more complicated.  Find a local laser cutting shop and do a one off of parts, then they get sent to a fab shop for bending (sometimes the same shop), then, you'll put it together and work out the inevitable bugs.  This process can happen several times until it's just right.  Do not powder coat until this process is done.

You can send it off to china to have it manufactured, but it will require multiple test samples to get it right.  You will need to import several one-off's from the factory to TRIPLE check design and quality of materials.

Then there are legal issues. If this is a kick-ass proprietary design, it can be quickly copied in the far east and you will have little recourse once the idea and specs have been delivered.

Really, if you have a sweet/original design idea, you may be better off trying to get a domestic case manufacturer to license the design from you.


I dont want to be a dick, but I have electrical enclosed fabricated all the time, and i've never had to deal with a laser cutting shop, any sheetmetal company is going to have the facilities needed or able to subcontract anything complex like aluminum/alloy Laser cutting at a fraction of the price you would pay dealing direct. 

You're not being a dick, it may vary where he lives and you live and where I live.  I run a small company, I have parts fabricated on a regular basis, I do the cad through solidworks, etc. That's how it works in my neighborhood.  I've worked for companies and have spent time in china trying to get the quality better from what we were getting without proper oversight.

For something as basic as a case, you're paying a premium to have a fab shop subcontract the work.  In a design phase with (assuming) little to no experience, you'll get more bang for your buck working with a couple small local shops.

Additionally, even if you have a machine shop to cut and bend, install pem-nuts, etc. They won't have an acid bath to clean and then paint the item.  It's like hiring your cousin to find a guy who knows a few dudes  to paint you house, replace the roof and clean the gutters.

Just trying to help.

You're better off just doing a kickstarter or trying to convince an existing case manufacturer to partner with. Maybe you can do both so you get a better percentage out of the sales once you reach a reasonable amount of interest aka money to make the project go forward. If not once you get past all the easy shit like finding someone to make your prototype and you get to the tooling phase you're gonna be like holy shit when you see how much that's gonna cost. Link your kickstarter or whatever in this thread so we can see it. Good luck to you. :)

GREAT idea and post.  Just make sure you protect the design legally if is original (and make sure it doesn't die due to someone else's already protected design).

No offense to the OP, but after all this is done, is there a marketing/sales plan? I work in a VERY niche market so selling to individuals (mostly institutions and governments) on the web works for me (sort of). Cases are sold everywhere by everyone and are ridiculously expensive to ship. Consider, if you're going to do this yourself, shipping to the consumer alone will cost about 1/2 the price of the unit - at least. Custom box and foam is necessary unless you want to use peanuts - which means a monster of a box and thus you save nothing and look like a noob...

Thanks for all the replies. The legal aspects were definitely a concern for us. Right now we're just dangling our feet so to speak.

As expensive as it might be to do it domestically, I'd prefer that method. It'd be nice to support local businesses. We'll look around (we're in Denver), and I'll try to keep those of you interested up to date.

In terms of a marketing strategy, I thought I might send Logan a case for a video! :D

Any ideas about how to license out the design to an established case maker as stated above?

Anyway, thanks again for the great replies, and for the good manners. Carry on!

Do you want to sell the rights to the design to a company, or have a company make the case for you, with some sort of royalties in return? I would get a working prototype, some photos, patent your design, then contact a company, that way nobody can just take it out from under you. Just start emailing companies, maybe show them a picture of the complete CAD model rendering, just a teaser, though. 

Do you want to sell the rights to the design to a company, or have a company make the case for you, with some sort of royalties in return?

That's the thing, I'm not sure which would be better.

I think you will find licensing or selling a design very difficult, unless its a truly revolutionary concept you have?

As Well as problems getting any form of intellectual property rights that would stand up, let alone the huge cost of trying to even enforce them domestically, let alone internationally.

I would very much suggest getting them fabricated yourself and going down the boutique gear route.

That's the general direction I think I'd like to head. I guess we'll just work towards that for now.

i have been looking for a good quality case, case labs is always nice, but expensive, loving the dual chamber design of the air 540, keep me posted and I may just have to invest. ;3

Will do!