Smartphones are in nearly everyone’s pockets or handbags these days. Now that they are everywhere, the market for gadgets and gewgaws available to adorn them has exploded. Phone fashion has its practical side since the screens on these devices can shatter when dropped and, like buttered toast, they always seem to fall face down. Gel cases first came in just a few colors, then patterns were added, and now, with the creation of the Eng Case, moving parts are on the scene.
This isn’t the first time the case has moved beyond protective, after all the smartphone is also a camera and as such there is a case designed to accept a variety of lenses (www.squidc.am). However, the Eng case isn’t something that moves because you change its parts, its parts move because they embody three basic principles of mechanical motion. Even if you aren’t so interested in the laws of mechanics, they do give you something to do while apps download or when you’ve run out of people to text while waiting on your ride.
From the front, the case looks much like the conventional smartphone cases. On the back are a series of gears that actually move. The gears are designed to move by use of a gear rack on the side of the phone or by simply twirling them with your fingers. They come in fluorescent colors that not only pop during the day but also glow at night. It’s as if steam punk got crossed with some club kids. As a final tip of the hat to the fascination with customization, each case has a tag insert that can be customized at the buyer’s request.
The Eng Cases, and its gears, are entirely 3D printed with a diminutive .3mm nozzle on MixShop machines using environmentally friendly PLA thermoplastic. Its creator, RongGuo, designed and made the first case for himself while a mechanical engineering student at Queen’s University in Toronto. He soon found his phone case to be the center of attention among his friends, and with their encouragement decided to try to market the cases commercially. He went back to his drawing board and came up with dozens of different designs for the cases, finally narrowing it down to three designs for production. He has also, generously, made the design files available for the iPhone 5 cases so that people can print out their own.
His next step was to turn to Kickstarter to seek the funding that his project would need in order to take the case from casual creation to professional production. He is looking to raise $3,000 by the 2nd of July in order to offset the costs of packaging the completed cases that he plans to ship to backers by the end of August.
Check out the Kickstarter promo video below:
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