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Let's Start At The Beginning, Continued

China Dispatch: Adventures in Case Manufacturing
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The bezel is perhaps the most important visual part of the case. Chenbro uses a Rapid Prototyping machine (or RP machine) that allows testing of different bezel concepts very quickly. By feeding the bezel design into the RP machine, the RP machine uses resin and a laser to stack and shape the bezel. It would be possible to use the RP machine to test a variety of bezel concepts for the Xpider/Gaming Bomb in a period of time that is very short when compared to a manufacturing process time period. This RP machine-produced bezel also aids an OEM customer in selecting a bezel, as the test bezel is similar in appearance to the final product. This process provides Chenbro with a good idea of what the final bezel will look like before they commit time and resources into creating a plastic injection mold for this particular bezel.

Valued at over $1 million dollars US, the RP machine at Chenbro is one of only two in use in Taipei. While it can produce only two bezels every 24 hours, it is still exceptionally valuable in building prototype cases quickly.

One of the most interesting things about the case industry is that due to the high cost of producing stamping dies and injection molds, many companies (including Chenbro) recycle parts from previous projects to build new cases. (We were told that many of the same dies and molds for certain standard case parts have been in use for many years.) Recycling dies and molds reduces material costs and saves money in manufacturing processes, which helps to keep case manufacturing costs down.

In some instances it is possible to take a case manufactured under another name and re-release it with a different bezel to give it a new look and to help stimulate consumer interest and sales. The Chenbro Xpider/Gaming Bomb is derived from a previous Chenbro case, as it features a number of the same metal parts as the previous model and others that have been modified to add additional features, in addition to the new bezel design. The result is a unique looking and cost effective case.

Jerry shows us a completed prototype bezel. Due to the resin that is used, it is clear colored. However, it can be painted to provide Chenbro a better idea of what the final bezel might look like prior to committing resources and production time to create a plastic injection mold.
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