World’s Strongest iPad Case
The iPad is an awesome fitness tool for logging workouts, doing meal plans, graphing progress, and keeping workouts on track. There are dozens of great apps, the problem is the iPad itself – they are big and fragile. I personally have bent and broken an iPad just by carrying it in a full backpack and a heavy gym bag is certain iPad-death. Most cases are flimsy rubber or plastic things that only protect against cosmetic scratches. This case offers true, rugged, protection against bending and dropping so you can use it for fitness without fear of destroying it!
Sometimes I wonder if I live on another planet than everyone else. There are hundreds of “protective” cases out there and yet all they do is protect against scratches. Seriously? You call a flimsy plastic or rubber case “protection”? Let me show you what PROTECTION is:
THIS is protection! How many iPad covers can take this kind of abuse?? None!
An iPad is a tool and I need it to be as reliable and sturdy as my hammer and my tape measure. After looking over a year for a serious case for my mini iPad I gave up and made my own for about ten bucks and you can too.
You can make this in about 3 hours with basic metal working hand tools – tin snips or nibbler, hack saw, and a file would work. Note that I made a case for the iPad mini here but you could do exactly the same thing for an iPad2, iPad3 or iPad4. Here is what you need:
This is a perfect metal shop project for those of you fortunate enough to still have shop classes offered at your high school.
Making the case
The main material you need is some preformed aluminum angle, this is carried at both Home Depot and OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) and I assume at ACE Hardware and virtually every other hardware store out there:
For about $10 you can get the aluminum 1/2″ 1/8″ thick angle stock, the 40 mil aluminum sheet, and two dozen rivets.
Step 1: With the hacksaw miter cut the corners to make a “picture frame” that leaves about 1/4″ of room on all sides of your iPad:
Step 2: Now with your nibbler or tin snips, cut the 40mil aluminum sheet used for the back to fit inside your “picture frame:
Step 3: With all the parts for the picture frame cut out, go ahead and drill and countersink for the rivets:
Step 4: Rivet the “picture frame” together:
Step 5: Now cut the top hold down pieces:
Step 6: Drill and bolt the corners together:
Step 7: Apply the shock proofing. You can either use self-adhesive felt or you can use silicon caulk. I suggest silicon caulk for optimal drop protection but don’t overdo it. You want the iPad encased in goo, you want as few contact points as possible. Use saran wrap to allow the caulk to form perfectly to the iPad without actually sticking to it:
Step 8: drill access holes for earphone jacks, buttons, etc. You can drastically reduce the number of holes you need to make in your case by using the accessibility option in your iPad. This allows things like locking and volume up/down from the screen rather than the buttons.
Step 9: File the corners round and then give your case the desired finish. You can polish your case to have it look awesome and mirror-shiny but I prefer to sand the aluminum – it looks good with abuse. Here is the finished case:
Walla! The worlds strongest and least expensive iPad cover!!!
How much does it weigh?
If you have to ask that question then strength isn’t that important to you :) Strength takes weight, how strong do you want your case? Flimsy plastic cases only weigh 50-100 grams but the offer no protection against bending or dropping at all. Although this case is made of aluminum which is very light, there is a LOT of it. How much? 300 grams (10 ounces) worth. For reference, the original iPad mini weighs 308 grams according to my scale so this case doubles its weight. If you wanted, you could use 1/16″ thick angle stock to make this to cut the weight in half but that would also cut the strength in half. Given how strong this case is as designed, using the 1/16″ stock would probably still result in a case which is about 10x stronger than anything commercially available.
Suggestions for Design Improvements
I dont have access to anything other than basic hand tools and I wanted this to be something that anyone could make quickly and easily. There are some other designs that would be far superior in strength/weight ratio but would be far more difficult to fabricate. An optimal design would be an oreo cookie – the iPad is the white gooey inside and the black cookies are the aluminum case. There would be eight to ten standoffs to hold the two metal sides together. Of course, like that it wouldn’t be useful because you couldn’t see the screen … so you have to cut out a big rectangle for the screen and that is the home fabrication problem. To make this sandwich design strong you would want to use at least 3/32″ thick aluminum, 1/8″ would be better. Cutting a rectangle out of 1/8″ thick material without distorting it is a real challenge. The back could either be a solid piece or it could have a weight saving cutout. With a back cutout I would use the same 1/8″ thick material, without the back cutout 1/16″ thick material would suffice. This design has the advantage that you dont have to cut any access holes in the sides to access the buttons. The strength comes from the I-beam construction – two strong plates held parallel to each other with the standoffs. My guess is that with this design you could cut the weight down to about 120 grams (4 ounces) and have equal or more strength than this case does. Antenna reception would be better too.
Coming up early in 2014 is my home gym made with $60 of wood! I cant wait!