With the increase in the popularity of tablets comes the increase in a need to protect the devices that consumers spend so much money on. This is where tablet cases come in as an effective and sought after solution with a multitude of benefits. Tablet cases provide users with an outlet to exhibit their unique personality and style. The cases offer space for keeping notes tucked away and access to a keyboard for greater typing ease. Companies especially like to offer their employees these benefits for use with their company issued device.
For companies, though, the tablet case becomes an opportunity to provide branded goods to clients to promote a company they frequently do business with. This also speaks true for not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that may have a number of varying reasons for offering branded tablet cases. Before you go on, take a look at our range of services that will help you get the best custom cases with your design or logo.
A retailer may want to create their own designs to have manufactured in bulk for resale at their establishment, either brick-and-mortar or online. A corporation may want to have tablet cases manufactured to sell to both consumers and employees who want to represent the company. The same companies may want to have these items made to give away as special, high-quality promotional gifts that they know will be used every day, making a lasting impression on customers and new contacts.
These employees and people who frequent their business can help to spread the word about the company through the simple use of their tablets in public or at networking events. Educational facilities want to protect the valuable learning resources that students use with tablet covers that are branded with the organization’s name or logo. This not only promotes the organization, but it shows the public that they are a tech-friendly facility. Additionally, having a case on a tablet helps to deter theft.
It is quite clear that organizations of all types can benefit from the use of tablet cases, but knowing where to begin the process of selecting who to make your tablet cases may seem like a daunting task. This guide will provide an all-encompassing look at the world of tablet case manufacturing. The exploration begins with a look at the options available from tablet case manufacturers, including models, designs, styles, and types of branding that are available. It’s important to know how to research a tablet case manufacturer, ensure their ability to provide for your needs. By the end of this guide, you will well-prepared to not only choose the proper tablet case and branding, but also the right tablet case manufacturer for your needs.
Let’s take a quick overview of what will be covered within this guide, in order of appearance:
- Making decisions about what is wanted, including model and style
- The benefits of manufacturing custom tablet cases and tips for picking a style of case
- Custom design: Artwork and logos, as well as industrial molding and tooling
- Researching tablet case manufacturers
- Creating a list of questions to have clarified when interviewing manufactures
- Having a clear understanding as to your final product
Table Of Contents
- 1 Know What You Want
- 2 Tips for Picking Your Tablet Case
- 3 Custom Design
- 4 Researching Tablet Case Manufacturers
- 5 The Pre-production Process
- 6 Full Production
Know What You Want
Tablet covers have many different purposes, which makes them a great investment. We become attached to our computing devices, and we want to do our best to extend their lives as much as possible. Not only that, but we tend to take for granted just how much valuable information we accumulate on our tablets. That’s why people have a serious interest in investing in a case. But before you look at what type of cases you can invest in, let’s take a look, and consider all of the options you have available and the benefits that come with having a case.
During the course of a day, your devices are exposed to many different dangers. A scratch on the screen can not only drive you crazy, but it can also make it difficult to use your device. A good case protects your device from scratches, liquids, the heat of the sun, airborne dust, and those unfortunate moments when you drop your tablet.
Your tablet is something that is with you for the majority of your day. After a while, people start to associate you with your tablet. That’s why you should use a case that adds a little more style to your tablet. A colorful case or a case with a design on it will help your black, white, or grey tablet to have a little more flair and personality. Having a case that separates you from others will help when identifying your tablet, or keeping track of company devices. If you’re looking to offer cases out as a high-quality promotional gift, a great custom design can ensure people are constantly reminded of your company. If you’re looking to get tablets manufactured for resale, having a style case that people feel is unique makes them more desirable.
Match Your Lifestyle
Tablet cases come in a variety of designs that allows you to pick one that fits your lifestyle. If you use your tablet a great deal or have company tablets that are used every day or even are targeting people who regularly use their tablet in tough environments; then you may want to take a look at heavy-duty cases that can protect tablets against almost anything. If you’re looking to get cases manufactured for a fashion statement, there a number of cases open to you that can offer unique looks.
An inexpensive case for your tablet can absorb damage and prevent your tablet from getting damaged, even if it might mean your case breaks. One of the more convenient things about tablet cases is that they’re often inexpensive and easy to replace (if you’re looking to manufacture a brand new style of case, this may not be so cheap to replace).
People Collect Cases
If you’re looking to manufacture cases for resale, people love to collect novelty cases, especially sports fans. Many manufacturers create case collections that are tied together by a common theme. Once some people start collecting cases, it can be difficult for them to stop.
When you buy your tablet, it’s set up by the associate you bought it from. If you need to have your device repaired, then you have to take it to a certified technician to get it repaired properly. After a while, you can start to feel like you have no control over what happens to your own device. A case is a nice and simple installation that you can do on your own. You can customize your own tablet by using a cases that is designed to your preferences. It gives you a sense of ownership with your tablet that you might not have otherwise.
Match Your Material Needs
Most people are used to tablet cases that are made out of plastic, but you have other material options to choose from as well (more detail later in the guide). You can have a case made from durable silicone, classic-looking wood, carbon fiber, or even get a luxurious look using leather.
Tips for Picking Your Tablet Case
You may want to buy a tablet case for a number of reasons. For instance, if you’ve invested a lot of money into providing company issues tablets or for children at a school, you’ll want your tablet not to get scratches or wear out quickly. When searching for tablet cases, you will come across a variety of different types. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to determine which protective or decorative cover you should go for.
To make it easier for you, it pays to decide on a number of things beforehand. You should have an idea of the compatibility, stylishness, and budget of the case you would like to manufacture. It will make things a whole lot easier when you’ve narrowed down your needs to the most important ones.
Compatibility of the Case
You should choose a case that is compatible with your tablet. Tablets come in different shapes and sizes. There are cases that have been specifically designed for the kind of tablet you have, as well as being made to fit multiple functions of different tablets. What’s important to note, is that some designs can make them incompatible with certain devices, it’s not advisable to start the manufacturing process without making sure the tablet case you’ve chosen is compatible with your device.
Different tablet cases come with different features and you must decide what features you want. If you don’t need anything fancy, one with a simple magnetic strip to wake your tablet when you open it may suffice. If the purpose of your tablet is for work or education, one that has an included Bluetooth keyboard may be a better option. Make a list of the main uses of your tablets and aim to look for tablet cases that support these features.
Some people need more protection than others. If students or employees are going to be uses issued tablets, let’s face it, some users will be more clumsy than others and will tend to drop things more often. Each style of case offers different levels of protection from very little to you could drop it from 20 feet and it would be okay. Other cases are waterproof and if it accidentally goes for a swim, it will be shielded from the potential catastrophe. When looking into manufacturing tablet cases, you must take this into account. Where are you tablets going to be used, how much protection do they need?
While some people will not care too much about style and favor function over it, you may want to manufacture a custom tablet case to match our flair and personality. If you like loud and boisterous, design a case with a patterned design or even bright colors. If you’re more traditional and conservative, something in black or brown leather may be just the case for you.
Key Points to Remember
- Make sure the case is compatible with your tablet
- Take into account the main features you want based on usage
- How much protection do you need?
- What style bests suits your personality
Main Tablet Case Types
A variety of covers is enormous and it’s growing every day. It may seem like a daunting task trying to decide between the different kinds available. But, no matter how they’re called, they fall into these four major categories.
Tablet skins will provide protection from scratches and dirt and that’s about it for protection. They can come in a vast variety of different colors and styles and are very easy to customize. Printed on repositionable vinyl, and usually finished with a clear overcoating for an extra layer of protection, skins can be changed when needed, without leaving a sticky residue. Skins are perfect if you’re looking for to express yourself visually, and if the tablet user doesn’t travel with it often.
Sleeves mainly provide protection for a tablet whilst in transit. Usually closed on three sides with access provided by a zipper. Construction materials can vary, though neoprene exteriors with flannel or other soft interiors, cushioned by layers of foam padding are most common. It won’t provide protection during use but will help protect the tablet and its screen from drops, bumps, and scratches while carrying. This makes it a great option for business users who regularly travel with their tablet but mostly use it when in a stationary setting.
A tablet case combines form-fitting protection of a skin, with the impact barrier of a sleeve. Something that can be manufactured using a variety of different materials, including a durable outer material and a soft inner material. Arguably the most common type of case is made from silicone that can stretch to keep the style and shape of the tablet. Covering the back and sides of the tablet, they excel at protecting tablets from scratches, bumps, or drops (different materials offer different amounts of protection). Cases provide access holes to the tablet’s ports providing easy access. Tablet cases are great for individuals who have invested a lot into their tablets and need to provide maximum protection.
Folio cases allow users to access their tablet like a book. You’re able to slide the tablet into the cover and is protected on all sides. An attached flap covers the screen when the tablet’s not in use, protecting the screen from scratches. The flap is easily folded back to give the user full use of the tablet. Folio cases can range in materials from plastic and decorative fabric to real and synthetic leather. Great for anyone who requires plenty of options or needs a stylish cover with maximum protection.
No matter what you want your overall tablet case to do, the design of your case is what will give it the unique element you’re looking for. There are two major things you need to consider here, are you looking for a standard case with a custom logo, colors, or artwork? Or are you looking to create a whole new design?
Custom Logo, Design, and Artwork
The most popular choice when it comes to custom made tablet cases. It involves putting a logo on a color background, or a full artwork design from an artist. If you’re not the most artist of people, you should look for a manufacturer that can provide this service. You have a lot of options and a number of manufacturers will offer this as part of their service. As you’re only putting your logo onto a case that is already manufactured for your tablet, this is a quicker and more cost-effective method, as minimum orders for these can be as low as one case.
Industrial Design: Tooling & Molding
If you’re looking to create a completely brand new and unique case that’s a different shape, or for a brand new device. Molding is a manufacturing process or producing tablet cases in large volumes. The main advantage to molding is that you’ll have a 100% unique tablet cases that really sets you out from the rest. Typically when doing this, it will cost thousands for the molding and tooling that is required to produce/form/manufacture your custom tablet cases. Therefore the minimums to make these economically viable is high.
What is Molding?
The injection mold is a metallic box with an inside cavity. Your material will be injected into the mold cavity and comes out as a tablet case. If you’re not intending to have a brand new custom tablet case or part built, then you don’t have to worry about molds. It’s not because they don’t require a mold because they do. However, purchasing an existing style of tablet case means the manufacturer already has a mold.
While you’re not expected to pay any kind of fee for using an existing mold, you will be expected to pay for any additional tooling costs related to your customized tablet case. You get what you specify to your supplier. This is true for everything from Quality Control and lab testing, to injection mold.
When it comes to injection molds, things can go wrong. It’s recommended that you never pay more than the deposit, for the mold itself, upfront. A common mistake from new importers is to pay a deposit that covers both the batch of tablet cases and the mold. If anything went wrong, you’d lose a lot more money than if you had just paid for the mold alone.
It’s common that molds will require some fine tuning before they’re ready for full production. Withholding the full payment for the mold, it gives your manufacturer a strong incentive to fully comply with the tablet cases specifications. Losing this leverage could mean the manufacturer may just decide on what’s good enough for you.
Do You Own the Mold?
A tricky situation. If you’re using a Chinese manufacturer, the mold is staying in China. Some manufacturers won’t even try to hide the fact they’re intending to use the mold for themselves and export the same design.
The obvious way to avoid this situation would be to let a reliable third party in China keep the mold when it’s not needed for production. Although, keep in mind that any ownership terms regarding the mold must be clearly stated in a sales agreement.
State the following:
- Ownership terms
- Maintenance costs & terms
- Number of units that the mold shall be able to produce
- Compensation terms (in the event the mold breaks before a certain number of tablet cases have been produced)
What you need to consider:
- Entry Cost: Preparing a product for injection molded manufacturing requires a large initial investment. Make sure you understand this crucial point up front.
- The more customized parts you order, the more money you’ll have to invest. Molds can cost anything from a few hundred to tens of thousands.
- Determine the number of tablet cases produced at which molding becomes the most cost effective method of manufacturing.
- Determine the number of tablet cases produced at which you expect to break even on your investment (consider the costs of design, testing, production, assembly, marketing, and distribution as well as the expected price point for sales). Build in a conservative margin.
- Tablet Case Design: You want to design the case from day one with injection molding in mind. Simplifying geometry and minimizing the number of parts early on will pay dividends down the road.
- Assembly: Design your tablet case to minimize assembly. This will cut extra costs and speed up the process.
If this is a route you want to take, check out the next section for designing a well-balanced tablet case.
Design Rules for a Balanced Tablet Case
Tablet cases are generally made for three purposes: aesthetic, function, and protection. You need to balance these elements in order to create a tablet case that adds value to an expensive investment, rather than detract from it. You may want a tablet case to meet a specific need, this will likely involve some compromise.
Here are some rules you should follow as a basic guidance when designing your tablet cases. When in balance, these rules will offer you a guide to a solid design. If you place more emphasis on one of the purposes (aesthetics, function, or protection) the design may become unbalanced.
The rules have been broken down into positive and negative rules. A great case design is not purely about implementing the positive, but also avoiding the negative.
- The case protects the device from basic damage such as small drops, sliding the device across a table, or placing it in a bag by covering corners, the back, and front of the case. Protection may be applied via two different approaches as long as the two approaches do not increase the complexity of the overall solution (such as applying a screen protector to a tablet, as well as placing it on the case.
- The tablet case is easy to remove.
- The case is made of a material that is unlikely to crack after multiple removals or during normal use (a common flaw is the edges of case “hinges” fraying or cracking after a case is bent back-and-forth a number of times during normal use).
- The tablet case enables unique features of the device (such as the magnetic on-off feature of the iPad).
- The case does not decrease the functionality of any basic device feature (it does not, for instance, cover the camera lens, obstruct buttons or reduce the quality of sound coming from the device).
- The introduction of extra parts that are unattached and may be lost, thus reducing functionality or increasing of ownership cost due to replacement. Some tablet cases, for instance, those that are waterproof, often come with separate audio attachments that maintain protection while using wired headphones. While that may be necessary for that protection feature it adds a part that must be carried in order to support a tablet feature and can be easily lost.
- The introduction of extra material, including flaps, stands, hand straps, clasps, zipper pulls and other elements that do not add value and can get caught on bags, in the back of airplane seats or on clothing.
- The use of harmful materials in manufacture or packaging.
- The use of non-recyclable packaging.
- Use of poor materials or bad manufacturing processes that make the case wear quickly (the use of glue, for instance, for combining material layers without any reinforcement stitching.) Poor materials include fabrics that feel extremely unnatural and create a negative feel when handling the device.
Finding a Balanced Purpose
The first purpose of your tablet case is to provide protection, this requires balancing between the aesthetics of the case and the device, in addition to the functions the case offers, or any extra protection.
Aesthetics is about the look and feel of the tablet case you want to design. Your case is going to be personalized or themed, but these do not need to introduce negative design attributes or abandon positive ones. Many branded cases are little more than minimalist shells, of inferior material, printed with a logo. While these may improve the aesthetics of a device, they offer little protection and are often a poor investment. Remember, you want to design a tablet case that people are going to be using daily, therefore you need a strong combination of looking good, as well as offering protection.
There is a wide range of features that you may want beyond the primary function of protection.
Additional features may include:
- Stylus holder
- Attachment points for auxiliary equipment like camera lenses or game controllers
What’s important when considering the features is who the tablet case is being designed for. A keyboard feature would be great for someone in an office environment, but not for someone who uses their tablet in a rural environment. Remember, if you’re looking at designing a case from scratch, you’ll need to consider the total costs of adding extras.
If you’re looking to design a custom tablet case with protection in mind, it doesn’t necessarily have to be ugly, but they’re certainly not minimalist, and they often add significant bulk to even the thinnest devices. Don’t be deterred by this, as adding some extra bulk can aid handling and make dropping the device less likely. One issue can be that protective cases can be difficult to remove, but if you have a fantastic custom design people may not want to remove the case.
Knowing the Dimensions of Your Device
Knowing the dimensions of your device is essential to manufacturing tablet cases. If you get this wrong, you could waste a lot of time and money and end up with a useless product. You need to bear in mind that if you’re planning on manufacturing a custom case, there are two general kinds of cases available: model-specific cases, and generic ones.
Generic Vs Model-Specific
Generic cases are typically differentiated by the screen size of the tablet they fit, and they are more likely to be closer to tablet sleeves rather than actual form-fitting cases. That’s because they need to work with multiple models that have their ports, slots, back panel camera lenses, docking connectors, and other essential features, all in different places. This means, that with most generic cases, the user will need to remove the tablet from the case to use it. This is something you need to consider if you want to manufacture generic cases.
Model-specific cases are more typically what we think of as “cases.” They usually hug the tablet;s contours and they have cutaways for the devices ports so you can gain easy access while keeping the tablet fully protected. The downside of any model-specific case is that if you replace or upgrade your devices, it is very likely that the case will no longer work with the new tablet.
When looking to manufacture tablet cases, what you don’t want to do is just take the screen size into account. For example, two tablets may have the same screen size (10-inches), but a different screen aspect ratio. As a result, you may end up with a cover that doesn’t fit your tablet.
Key note: Always know the exact physical dimensions of your device – height, width, and depth. Make sure you write the dimensions of your device, in millimeters, centimeters, and inches. This will avoid any unfortunate mishaps with your chosen manufacturer.
Be careful when looking for tablet dimensions. For instance, if you find a case or sleeve that fits “iPad,” there are five generations of iPad already. So make sure you’re looking at the correct version.
Table of Tablet Dimensions and Case Sizes
Here is a list of the most popular tablets presently available (from December 2016) grouped by their width, depth, height, and screen size.
Measurements are in inches (in), centimeters (cm), and millimeters (mm).
|Acer Iconia Tab A500||10.2in 26cm 7.5mm||7in 18cm 180mm||0.52in 1.3cm 13mm||10.1in 26cam 260mm|
|Amazon Kindle Fire||7.5 in 19cm 190 mm||4.7in 12cm 120mm||0.45in 1.1cm 11mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Apple iPad||9.6in 24cm 240mm||7.5in 19cm 190mm||0.51in 1.3cm 13mm||9.7in 25cm 250mm|
|Apple iPad 2||9.5in 24cm 240mm||7.3in 19cm 190mm||0.35in 0.89cm 8.9mm||9.7in 25cm 250mm|
|Apple iPad 3||9.5in 24cm 240mm||7.3in 19cm 190mm||0.37in 0.94cm 9.4mm||9.7in 25cm 250mm|
|Apple iPad Mini 4||8in 20cm 200mm||5.31in 13.5cm 135mm||0.24in 0.61cm 6.1cm||7.9in 20cm 200mm|
|ASUS Eee pad Transformer||10.7in 27cm 270mm||6.9in 18cm 180mm||0.5in 1.3cm 13mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime||10.4in 26cm 260mm||7.1in 18cm 180mm||0.29in 0.74cm 7.4mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|Dell Streak 7||7in 18cm 180mm||4.7in 12cm 120mm||0.5in 1.3cm 13mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Dell Streak 10 Pro||10.3in 26cm 260mm||7in 18cm 180mm||0.51in 1.3cm 13mm||10in 25cm 250mm|
|HTC Flyer||7.7in 20cm 200mm||4.8in 12cm 120mm||0.52in 1.3cm 13mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Lenovo IdeaPad A1||7.7in 20cm 200mm||4.9in 12cm 120mm||0.47in 1.2cm 12mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Lenovo IdeaPad K1||10.4in 26cm 260mm||7.4in 19cm 190mm||0.52in 1.3cm 13mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|LG Optimus Pad||9.6in 24cm 240mm||5.9in 15cm 150mm||0.49in 1.2cm 12mm||8.9in 23cm 230mm|
|Motorola Droid XYBoard 10.1||10in 25cm 250mm||6.8in 17cm 170mm||0.35in 0.89cm 8.9mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|Motorola Xoom||9.8in 25cm 250mm||6.6in 17cm 170mm||0.5in 1.3cm 13mm||10.1in 26com 260mm|
|Motorola Xoom 2||10in 25cm 250mm||6.8in 17cm 170mm||0.35in 0.89cm 8.9mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Note||5.8in 15cm 150mm||3.3in 8.4cm 84mm||0.38in 0.97cm 9.7mm||5.3in 13cm 130mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000||7.5in 19cm 190mm||4.7in 12cm 120mm||0.47in 1.2cm 12mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus||7.6in 19cm 190mm||4.8in 12cm 120mm||0.39in 0.99cm 9.9mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||7.7in 20cm 200in||4.8in 12cm 120mm||0.41in 1cm 10mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7||7.7in 20cm 200mm||5.2in 13cm 130mm||0.31in 0.79cm 7.9mm||7.7in 20cm 200mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9||9in 23cm 230mm||6.2in 16cm 160mm||0.35in 0.89cm 8.9mm||8.9in 23cm 230mm|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||9.7in 25cm 250mm||6.9in 18cm 180mm||0.34in 0.86cm 8.6mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|Sony Tablet S||9.5in 24cm 240mm||6.9in 18cm 180mm||0.4in 1cm 10mm||9.4in 24cm 240mm|
|Sony Xperia Tablet Z||10.47in 26.6cm 266mm||6.8in 17cm 170mm||0.24in 0.61cm 6.1mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|Toshiba Thrive||7in 27cm 270mm||7in 18cm 180mm||0.62in 1.6cm 16mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
|ViewSonic ViewPad 7||7in 18cm 180mm||4.3in 11cm 110mm||0.45in 1.1cm 11mm||7in 18cm 180mm|
|ViewSonic ViewPad 10||10.8in 27cm 270mm||6.7in 17cm 170mm||0.57in 1.4cm 14mm||10.1in 26cm 260mm|
If your tablet of choice is not on this list, then there are other ways you can get the correct dimensions. Be careful if you’re on the internet to find your tablet’s dimensions. If you’re not looking at the producer’s website you may find descriptions misleading or not specific enough. Look to get your tablet’s dimensions from the manufacturer, or look through the manual that came with your tablet.
Tablet Case Styles
When deciding on your tablet case of choice, you need to understand the different varieties of materials available before you can make the correct choice on which style you feels bests suits your needs.
In this section of the Tablet Manufacturers Guide, I’ve researched some of the most popular styles of tablet cases; what they’re made from and what they can offer you. To get more acquainted with the most popular styles, check out our versatile offer.
Polycarbonate Tablet Cases
There are two different types of plastic that can be used to make hard tablet case: polycarbonate, and hard plastic. Let’s take a comprehensive look at the positives and negatives of each material.
A very strong material that is also used to make items such as eyeglasses, bulletproof windows, and CDs. if you drop your tablet in a polycarbonate case, the polycarbonate is designed to resist the impact and disperse the shock of the fall. The best polycarbonate tablet cases come with an inner silicone or fabric lining for added protection shock.
Many polycarbonate tablet manufacturers also offer additives or optional coatings to prevent scratching or degradation from UV ray exposure. Despite the durability of polycarbonate, it’s a lightweight material that won’t add too much extra weight.
The disadvantages of polycarbonate is that it’s prone to changing color with prolonged exposure to sunlight – although as previously mentioned, there are additives which can be applied to protect the case from UV rays. Additionally, it tends to scratch more easily than plastic or leather. Polycarbonate is more slippery than other materials, such as silicone. A polycarbonate case may feel just as slick and glossy as a bare tablet, making it hard to grip tightly. But again, there are special outer layers which can be applied to improve the grip of the case. Finally, it’s more prone to acquire fingerprints, grease, and sweat than a softer case, making the tablet look less polished than with other types of cases.
- Immense strength
- High impact resistance
- Resistance to chipping, cracking and scratches
- Tends to change color due to prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Can add bulk
- Not stylish
- Gets dirty easily and likely to acquire grease, sweat, and fingerprints
Hard Plastic Tablet Cases
Hard plastic tablet cases are more cost effective and attractive. It’s very easy to print designs on them or add adornments such as rhinestones and pearls, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. So they come with a high level of customization available. Some hard plastic cases can be designed to be waterproof and dustproof.
Hard plastic tablet cases are the most likely to break if you drop them. This means they don’t offer you an extremely high level of protection for your phone. They can be difficult to grip unless they have some type of grip enhancer on the sides. Once they are installed on the tablet they can be difficult to remove.
- Cost effective and attractive
- High level of customization
- Can be waterproof and dustproof
- Readily available
- Cheap look
- Not sustainable
- Requires cushioning material in other to provide sufficient protection
- Less durable
- Rigid and likely to crack or break if it hits a hard surface
TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) Cases
A soft plastic best known for its use in foam, but also used in things like furniture and shoes, it is not as strong as polycarbonate. However, it is strong and spongy and will do a good job of protecting your tablet if you drop it. A soft material, it’s easier to grip. Fantastic for customization, they can have patterns molding into them, or be printed with a white variety of designs. Finally, it’s a very affordable material.
Soft plastic tablet cases can rip or tear if they get caught on keys or other objects when carrying them in a bag. Some people find that they feel greasy, or unappealing in their hand. They can also slip off your tablet easily, which can be very frustrating as you don’t want this to be the case.
- Easy to customize, decorate and add extra features to
- Easy to grip
- Offers good protection
- Readily available
- Easy to recycle
- Cheap look
- Smells strange
- Not sustainable
- Less durable
- Prone to breaking
- Can be unappealing to touch
Durable and inexpensive, silicone tablet cases are flexible and able to stretch over the tablet, thereby maintain the tablet’s shape and style. It’s capable of absorbing shocks and give you protecting during low-impact drops. The soft, jelly-like texture is an appealing trait that provides a stronger grip and adherence to surfaces. This can prevent many heart-breaking accidents, such as your tablet falling off the table.
The material does add bulk and is not particularly stylish. Silicone cases can attract dust and lint from inside your bag which can give tablets a messy appearance. Silicone doesn’t offer a wide range customization as they tend to only be available in one color.
- Not easy to break
- Less slippery, so not likely to drop
- Easy to hold and grip
- Can add bulk
- Not stylish
- Comines in only a single color
- Few customization options
- Sticky – hard to clean
Note: It’s important to note that silicone and soft plastic are different things. Silicone uses silicon, a naturally-occurring material found in sand and quartz, instead of carbon as a primary ingredient. Silicone and soft plastic often look and feel the same, and in many ways, they perform the same.
Carbon Fiber Tablet Cases
Carbon fiber material is made by weaving together strands of carbon to produce a very light material that’s even stronger than steel. A very thin material that is capable of providing outstanding protection from medium-drops on concrete and hard surfaces, without adding a lot of extra bulk. Being so lightweight makes your tablet easier to hold during prolonged use. Carbon fiber tablet cases are attractive that’s customizable and can come in an array of stylish colors and designs.
Carbon fiber tablet cases are some of the most expensive you can buy, however, the cost is justified by the materials sophisticated woven look, lightweight, and strength. They’re simply protective decals instead of snap or slip-on cases, which can be confusing when buying online and not in person.
- Extremely appealing
- Very thin and light
- Very strong
- Very expensive
- Protective decals not snap or slip-on cases
Wooden Tablet Cases
Preferred wood is from the sustainable bamboo trees. Wooden tablet cases are easy to customize and engrave or etch to create custom and unique designs. The customized wooden tablet cases can be unique and look like a piece of art. However, they only offer you limited protection against big impact falls.
- Highly customizable
- The wood used is considered more sustainable compared to plastics
- Easy to hold
- Unique and attractive
- Can be expensive
- Limited protection against big impact falls
Leather Tablet Cases
You have two options when it comes to leather cases; natural and synthetic. Both are classic choices for tablet cases that convey style and elegance but not much protection. The case will, at most, protect against chipping, scratches and other light daily wear but not against drops.
Natural leather comes from animals hides which is durable and superior in quality. This is the classic choice when it comes to premium tablet cases.
- Improves with age
- Stylish with a rich, quality feel
- Animal rights concerns
- Not very protective against heavier drops
The artificial or synthetic leather is also known as pleather. Made from plastics such as polyester and polyurethane, it resembles natural leather but, is lower quality and less durable.
- Low Quality
- May split or break more easily
Metal Tablet Cases
Metal has been used for some of the high-end tablets and has a great reputation, feels smooth, cool and expensive. Unfortunately, it tends to be heavier that the other materials.Metal cases offer the best protection. The hard exterior of the metal cases withstands impacts and won’t break, crack or chip. Common metals include aluminum, brass, titanium, and alloy of precious metals such as gold, etc.
The metal case is the hardest and able to withstand the largest of impacts as well as protecting the tablet against minor or intense scratches.
- Withstands big impacts
- High protection
- Distinctive look
- Doesn’t chip, crack or break on impact
- Weakens the signal due to its good conductivity
- Expensive compared to other materials
- Slippery and difficult to hold
A tablet skin provides protection from scratches and dirt, however, skins provide no protection when it comes to dropping your tablet. They can be had in several different colors and styles to fit individual tastes. Printed on repositionable vinyl, usually with a clear overcoating for an extra layer of protection, the skins can be changed out as needed without leaving a sticky residue. This makes skins perfect for those who like to express themselves visually, and for anyone who does not travel often with their tablet.
- Limitless design Opportunities
- Maintain the shape of your tablet
- Cheap to manufacture
- Offers your tablet no protection from falls
- If not manufactured well, can leave sticky residue on your tablet
Color & Branding Theory
Color theory comes with a multitude of definitions, concepts, and design applications – enough to probably fill a number of encyclopedias. However, there are three basic categories of color theory that are logical and useful when it comes to designing your tablet case: the color wheel, color harmony, and the context of how colors are used.
Color theories will help you see a logical structure to the colors you may want to use. That will help make your tablet cases more attractive and memorable.
The Color Wheel
A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art and design. Originally developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, scientist and artists have since studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. The color wheel presents a logically arranged sequence of pure hues.
There are three types of color wheels
Red, yellow, and blue. In traditional color theory, primary colors are the three pigment colors that cannot be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these three hues.
Green, orange, and purple. These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.
Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green. These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That’s why the hue is a two-word name.
You want your design to be visually pleasing to the eye. It engages the view and creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When a non-harmonious color scheme is used, it’s either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. The other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic, that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. Making the importance of your tablet case design vitally important.
Some Formulas for Color Harmony
- A color scheme based on analogous colors.
Analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.
- A color scheme based on complementary colors
Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green or red-purple and yellow-green. Using opposing colors creates a maximum contrast and maximum stability.
- A color scheme based on nature.
Nature provides a perfect departure point for color harmony. Simply step outside and take inspiration from what colors appear together.
How color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes is a complex area. The same color can have adverse or positive effects based on the background.
Red appears more brilliant against a black background and somewhat duller against the white background. In contrast with orange, the red appears lifeless. A red square would also appear larger on a black background than on other colored backgrounds.
The Power of Color for Brands
Brands and color are inextricably linked because color offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and messages without words. Color is the visual component people remember most about a brand, followed closely by shapes/ symbols. Many of the most recognizable brands in the world rely on color as a key factor in their instant recognition.
Why Color Matters
When designing a color scheme or print for your tablet cases, take into account how other colors can affect the visual harmony. Research conducted by the secretariat of the Seoul International color Expo revealed that 92.6% of people said they put most importance on visual factors when purchasing products. A study from the University of Loyola, Maryland showed that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.
Take your time when coming up with a design that best suits your company’s personality. This can be the difference between have an outstanding tablet case that people love to use, offer a constant reminder of your brand, or one that gets doesn’t get a second look.
Branding Your Tablet Cases: Coloring Plastics
Coloring your tablet cases adds to the customization, making them more valuable and desirable than plain tablet cases. You’re able to achieve your desired look and really make your tablet cases unique. Coloring your tablet cases during the molding process can be done using three different methods, masterbatch method, cube blends, pre-colored resins. Here’s information regarding each coloring method.
Also known as concentrates, masterbatch is the most frequently used method to color plastics. It’s a coloring method that works when concentrated color pigments are mixed into a polymer resin. During the molding process of your tablet, the masterbatch works by being let down into the resin as it is fed into the mold to achieve your desired color. This process requires heat, which allows the pigments to mix, but after your tablet case is cooled to its final shape and color. Considered the most economical way to color plastics when working with small volumes, it can add protection against ultraviolet (UV) damage, as well as having a quick turn around time. This process makes color matching easy, and it’s also easy for your manufacturer to create vibrant colors.
The cube blend coloring method, also known as salt and pepper mixes, it works by using a dry masterbatch blend with a natural polymer. The process of coloring is normally done when there is no metering equipment (to feed the masterbatch color into the resin). This process allows the operator to have precise control over the final output. However, if they’re not careful, it is possible to have color variations through this process. The main advantage is that the majority of the polymer has not been previously melted, this helps preserve its original properties.
This is one of the easiest and simplest ways to color plastic, the process involves pigments that are totally polymerized into a resin pack and is used by the molders as it is supplied. However, the ease of this process comes at a price: it’s harder to achieve exact color specifications. Occasionally pre-colored resins are used along with masterbatch that needs high let down ratios.
Branding Your Tablet Cases: Printing Methods
There are two processes you can go through, when branding your tablet case. You can opt to use sublimation printing; where your design is applied to blank tablet cases after it has been manufactured. This can be done through a range of printing styles, e.g., dye sublimation heat transfer printing, screen printing, heat transfer printing, and digital UV printing. The second is to apply your design in the molding process, when manufacturing your tablet cases.
Here’s an overview of each printing process:
Dye-Sublimation Heat Transfer
Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology that allows your manufacturer to transfer full-color artwork onto your tablet cases. It’s a process that uses the science of sublimation, where heat and pressure are applied to a solid, turning it into a gas through an endothermic reaction without passing through the liquid phase. Sounds complicated, but it’s not.
Your digital design is printed onto sublimation transfer sheets with unique dyes. It then requires a heat press process, which is a combination of time, temperature, and pressure. This combination results in a nearly permanent, high-resolution, full-color print. The dyes are infused into your tablet case on a molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level (such as screen printing). This means your design will not crack, fade, or peel from your tablet cases under normal conditions.
Mainly used for manufacturing a low quantity of tablet cases.
Screen printing is a battle-tested stenciling technique that applies inked images onto your tablet cases. Also known as silkscreen serigraphy or serigraph printing, it uses a stencil, or a series of stencils to distribute the ink to the desired area(s) by being pressed through a porous screen (hence the name screen printing).
One of the biggest advantages of screen printing is its versatility. It’s able to apply durable images to virtually any printable surface, no matter what material you choose for your tablet cases. You’re able to print with heavy inks, this means you’ll get more color pigments – making your tablet case design bolder and brighter. Many screen-printed projects use PMS or “spot” colors. These are used for multi-colored designs, allowing each color to maintain its true vibrancy. You can add different coatings and additives to make the ink resistant to UV rays, moisture, scratches, and/or chemicals.
Mainly used for manufacturing a low quantity of tablet cases.
Heat Transfer Printing
Heat transfer is a printing process in which your design is printed onto special release paper using a plastisol-based ink. The printed design is then placed on your tablet case and subjected to high temperature and pressure for a short period of time. Once completed, your tablet case is left to cool, the release paper is peeled away and your image or design will have been transferred onto your tablet case.
Some of the advantages of heat transfer printing are that it’s inexpensive and can print complex images with many colors and intricate designs. However, it’s not practical for large quantities of printing due to it being time-consuming (each design must be cut one by one). It’s not a flexible when it comes to printing on different types of materials.
Mainly used for manufacturing a low quantity of tablet cases.
Digital UV Printing
Digital UV printing allows you to print a high-resolution, photo-quality images, logos, and detailed text onto your tablet cases, using ultra-violet lights to dry or cure ink as it is printed. It’s been described as “the future of commercial printing” due to its array of benefits.
It’s flexible, as you’re able to print on almost any surface. The UV printing allows for high-gloss levels, vibrant colors, an array of coatings and printing that’s crisp. UV inks tend to sit on top of the surface rather than absorbed into it – resulting in a sharper and crisper finishing. It’s resistant to scratches, wear and tear, as well as sun exposure. The faster curing speeds mean the dots of wet ink do not get a chance to spread out once printed, resulting in a pristine finish in finer detail.
Mainly used for manufacturing a low quantity of tablet cases.
In Mold Design/Decoration (IMD)
IMD is a process that involves inserting a graphic overlay into an injection mold cavity. When your tablet case material is injected into to mold, it creates a bond between the overlay and your tablet case. When the molding process is finished, your tablet case is created with the design permanently attached.
This process offers design flexibility and productivity advantages over traditional post-molding decorating techniques. The graphics are impossible to remove with destroying the tablet case and will remain vibrant for life, giving you greater durability. It eliminates post-mold decorating, which can make it more cost effective. You give yourself a greater flexible design, you’re able to pick from a wide range of colors, effects, textures, and graphic options.
Mainly used for manufacturing a high quantity of tablet cases.
How fast your tablet cases can be customized are based on a number of factors. Generally, the quickest methods are digital, screen, IMD and sublimation onto standard tablet cases that follow a pre-design (not a customized shape of tablet case). The more customization you want from your tablet case, the longer it will take to manufacturer. The quantity of cases you want to produce will also affect the overall production time.
Artwork & Logo: Vector Artwork & Pantone Colors
When creating a custom artwork or a company logo for your tablet cases, your manufacturer will need you to provide a high-quality vector design file (.ai, .eps or .pdf), as well as Pantone colors.
What is Vector Art?
Vector files define a graphic by using mathematical algorithms, which allow your artwork of design to be scaled or modified without losing its quality or resolution. Vector graphics are also referred to as “draw graphics”. When your artwork or logo is in a vectored format (.ai, .eps, or .pdf), it lets you increase or decrease the size of the design without compromising its integrity. This will allow for a crisp, clear, and readable image no matter what the final size will be. If you’re unable to produce Vector artwork, don’t worry, many tablet case manufacturers will be able to redraw your designs as part of their service.
What are Pantone Colors?
Pantone colors are a largely standardized color matching system. By standardizing colors, your tablet case manufacturer will be able to refer to the exact color of your choosing, no matter where they are in the world. The system allows for many special colors to be produced, such as metallics and fluorescents and are often described by their allocated number (e.g., PMS 150).
Pantone colors ensure consistency. The consistency of your brand elements, such as your logo, is critical to helping customers and new prospects make a visual connection with your brand.
A good packaging design is a vital part of your manufacturing process. Proper packaging will protect your tablet cases from vibrations, shocks, and bumps during transit. It must be able to withstand the demands of long-term storage and distribution.
Packaging’s main purpose is to protect goods; this is non-negotiable. It’s said that your products should be able to survive a 4-foot drop at several different angles with damage:
- Landing flat on its base
- Landing flat on top
- Landing flat on its longest side
- Landing flat on its shortest side
- Landing on its corners
It should also be able to withstand one full minute of shaking without any breakages. This mimics the transit environment.
- Your packaging design must be durable and able to handle long-term sustained loads, e.g., stacking
- Packaging must cushion the product in case the item is dropped or shifts and falls during transit.
- Packaging should be moisture-resistant to reduce costly damage from humidity and weather changes.
- Packaging should act as a deterrent to thieves and tampering.
Protective packaging does not have to cost a lot, but it does have to be effective. This must always be considered when designing packaging.
IMPORTANT: Rudimentary packaging may cause long-term costs due to damages, repairs, and reduced productivity.
- Generally, there does not need to be any more than two inches of space between the inner and outer box. Look strategically at the size of your tablet case and consider purchasing double wall cardboard boxes in smaller sizes to reduce both materials and shipping costs.
- Consider whether or not you’re over-packaging. Layers do add protection, but this can mean heavyweight packaging and costly purchases. Consider if they are all necessary, or if there’s anything that can be streamlined.
- If you’re getting tablet cases manufactured for resale; know your audience. Do your homework and find out whom you are selling to. Know what appeals to them.
- The cost of your product should influence your packaging design. Don’t over design for a low price point tablet case. Over designing could mean higher packaging costs than necessary.
Consider the Environment
The sustainability of your brand is something all companies should endeavor to achieve. Studies have shown that today, 83% of consumers worldwide say it is important for businesses to make efforts towards sustainability
- Loose Fill Chips: Loose fill packaging chips are now available as a biodegradable product and can be a replacement for traditional styrofoam chips or peanuts.
- AirPack Systems: AirPack systems are inflatable bags used for cushioning products in transit, and the design is taking over the packaging industry. The product is manufactured using synthetic plastic technology to create cushioning, which is made of polyethylene and is often non-recyclable.
Striking a balance between protective packaging, cost, and sustainability is achievable with a bit of careful planning. Thanks to recent innovations, there are scores of low-cost packaging developments that can assist you in your strategies, whether you’re moving towards eco-friendly materials or seeking to reduce shipping costs.
Researching Tablet Case Manufacturers
Welcome to researching tablet case manufacturers. It’s incredibly important that you take this very seriously and do as much research as you can before deciding on which tablet manufacturer you’ll pick. If you don’t do your due diligence, choosing a manufacturer can be a very long and costly process.
Sourcing tablet case manufacturers is a unique process, and for most, a brand new experience. Trying to locate quality manufacturers that are a good fit is a critical decision for you and they aren’t always easy to find. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just hitting dead ends, but it just requires a little more patience and perseverance to find the perfect partner for you.
In this chapter, we’re going to cover how you can start to search for your tablet case manufacturer.
- You’ll learn the advantages and disadvantages of using local as well as overseas manufacturers.
- How you can start to find manufacturers in person, as well as online.
- How you can build a master list to stay up-to-date and on top of the process
- How you can choose the right tablet case manufacturer for you through research and asking the right questions
- How to not have your emails ignored
- MOQs and how you can negotiate
How to Find Tablet Case Manufacturers
This is one of your first big decisions you will have to make. Do you search for a tablet case manufacturer domestically or overseas? Here’s a clear definition:
- Domestic – This is a tablet manufacturer who will produce your cases in within your own country.
- Overseas – A tablet manufacturer who would produce your cases outside of your own country.
This used to be an easy choice to make. Until only a handful of years ago, if you had to get something made, you had to go overseas, and China was usually the main choice. However, this has changed and local manufacturing has really picked up in the US. 22% of the global manufacturing is done in China and 17% in the USA. This means it is now possible to get products made by domestic manufacturers at a relatively affordable price.
It’s not a straightforward choice, there are some advantages and disadvantages you’ll need to take into account here.
Domestic Manufacturers: Advantages
- Faster and easier to communicate. No language barrier and issues with time zones
- If you’re looking to resell your tablet cases, locally made products might have a higher perceived brand value. Sometimes customers are willing to pay more for “made in America” products
- Shipping is faster and cheaper
- More payment choices
- No custom payments
- Lower chances of intellectual property theft
- Possible to verify manufacturer and product quality in-person
- Easier to get legal recourse in case of conflicts
Domestic Manufacturers: Disadvantages
Manufacturing and labor costs are substantially higher
Very few product types are actually made locally. It is especially difficult to find domestic manufacturers for low-tech products.
Might not be possible to reach scale as many domestic manufacturers are not tooled for high volume (may not be a problem if you’re not looking for a huge number of tablet cases).
Overseas Manufacturers: Advantages
- Low labor costs – can be up to 80% less, but depends on the labor intensity of your design
- Possible to get high-quality – providing you’re willing to pay the cost
- You have a wide range of manufacturers with varying quality.
- Lots to choose from and easy to find good manufacturers on established platforms
- Access to more manpower – can shorten manufacturing time
Overseas Manufacturers: Disadvantages
- If you’re planning on getting tablet cases manufactured for resale, customers may perceive your tablet cases as lower quality and could affect your brand value
- Higher chance of intellectual property theft if you’re designing a brand new tablet case
- Communications problems. Language and culture barriers (although, people have been using foreign manufacturers for years is improving)
- Not as easy to verify manufacturer or product quality
- Shipping costs and times are substantially higher as compared to domestic manufacturers
- You’ll have to deal with customs (most manufacturers will be happy to provide information and guide you through this process)
- Little or no regulation recourse in case of fraud or theft
Where to Find Tablet Case Manufacturers
Now that you have a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of using domestic or overseas tablet case manufacturers, how and where do you start to search? The first thought that comes into your mind will probably be the internet. However, this isn’t your only option so let’s take a look at the different possible approaches you can take.
This is the “on foot” approach to finding tablet case manufacturers. Note, this approach is not for everyone, it’s very time consuming and you will have to devote time and money to travel to a new country to check out a number of potential manufacturers. The benefit to this approach is, you’ll get a first-hand look at their facilities and samples. This can take a huge amount of risk out of the equation as you’ll feel comfortable knowing exactly what you’re getting.
If you decide to target China, here is are some tips on the process of meeting local manufacturers:
- Find manufacturers in advance – Using sites that are discussed below, make a list of your preferred choices who make tablet cases.
- Plan your questions – Use the questions listed in the ‘Key Questions’ section in this document.
- Set up meetings – Set up meetings with your preferred manufacturers in advance to save yourself time and hassle.
- Use a translator – If you’re concerned about the language barrier, it is probably worth investing in a trustworthy local translator to guide you through the meeting.
- Examine the facilities – When you meet potential manufacturers, make sure you examine their facilities closely. If you’re happy with them, ask to inspect a few sample to examine before going any further.
If you’re unable to devote the time to use this approach, but still want to physically contact potential manufacturers, you can visit trade shows. You’ll easily be able to meet hundreds of different manufacturers at trade shows all at the same time, which will save you a lot of time. Don’t forget to check out local trade shows as well.
- Local trade shows – If you can’t fly to China, don’t worry. Chinese manufacturers exhibit their products in local trade shows, especially in the US. A great resource for finding local trade shows is TSNN.com
- China trade shows – China have trade shows nearly every day, so you won’t be short of options if you take the trip. Some of the top trade shows in the country include The Canton Fair, China International Industry Fair, China Electronic Fair, etc. A great way to keep track of Chinese trade shows is ChinaExhibition.com
You may also want to consider digging out your library card and heading to your local library. A lot of libraries will pay monthly subscription fees for online business and manufacturer directories that you may not have access to or would have to pay a substantial fee for. These directories contain profiles for a host of local manufacturers. However, make sure you call ahead of a visit. It’s not guaranteed that your library will have access to these types of private directories. If you have a large local library, you may have to speak to the business and technology department to get the correct answers.
Free Online Directories
If you’re unable to devote the time or it’s not in your budget to traveling overseas and physically search for tablet case manufacturers don’t fear. There’s a huge amount of online directories that can help you find potential manufacturers.
Let’s take a look at your best options for search online directories for both local and overseas manufacturers:
Alibaba.com – The world’s largest directory of manufacturers and suppliers. There are thousands of Alibaba-verified manufacturers with strong performance ratings. You’ll also be able to have the comfort of Alibaba’s trade assurance to reduce your risk. You’ll be able to find plenty of tablet case manufacturers here.
GlobalSources.com – Also known as GS, it is Alibaba’s closest competitor. There is no trade assurance on Global Sources, however, it does include extensive ratings and some assistance with your order, take your time to read every review. It’s a good alternative if you can’t find what you’re looking for on Alibaba.
It’s unlikely you will want to venture down this route, it’s a far cry from the scale at which China can operate. But, if you happen to be located in Europe and really want to manufacture locally, here are some online directories you should consider using:
All.biz – Possibly the most popular platform, it has a presence in nearly every European country.
EuroPages.com – A European exclusive B2B e-commerce platform, you can find manufacturers here. Very good for finding local manufacturers, then having a physical meeting.
MakersRow.com – The self-proclaimed, “ home of American manufacturing.” It has a huge database of over 7,000 US based manufacturers.
ThomasNet.com – As well as being a physical publication, ThomasNet has over 700,000 manufacturers and suppliers in the US and Canada. If you need help with industrial design, it can be a great place to search as well.
Online Google Search
Probably the first thought that came to your head, you can find manufacturers through a Google search. However, manufacturers websites aren’t exactly up-to-date with Google’s algorithm changes and aren’t very search engine optimized. If you take this route, be prepared to search far and beyond page 10. When you do find the websites, the information is usually old and sparse.
Tip: You’ll need to use a variety of search terms. For example, words like manufacturer, supplier, wholesale, wholesaler, and distributor may be used interchangeably so experiment with different types of searches.
If you’re still having problems searching through Google, make yourself aware of these search shortcuts to improve the quality of your results:
You’ll get some of your best leads from referrals. So if you have any connections in the manufacturing industry start taking advantage of them. Social networks have made it very easy to get the word out so use these channels. As you’re searching and speaking to different manufacturers you’ll find some aren’t the right fit, make sure you ask them if they can point you in the right direction. They’ll likely have great contacts and most will be more than happy to refer you to another manufacturer.
Build a Master List of Tablet Case Manufacturers
Whilst researching tablet case manufacturers, you will want to build a master list of all of the manufacturers you can find. It’s recommended that you try to find as many as possible, this will give you a greater chance of finding one that bests suits you and your needs. Building a list will help you keep a track of manufacturers you’ve already looked at, their contact details, date of contact, the person who you spoke to, and what you spoke about. This will stop you losing key details, save you time and will help you make an informed comparison when deciding which tablet case manufacturer you should pick.
The best two platforms to build your master list are Excel and Google Docs. Side note: Google Docs is free, and saves all your files on a cloud, so you won’t have to worry about losing all of your key information if you happen to experience any tech failures.
Creating a master list of manufacturers is really simple and will make your life a lot easier. Let’s take a look at an example of what you might want to make.
|Manufacturer’s Name||Manufacturer’s Website||Manufacturer’s contact Details||Date of Contact||Contact Person||Notes|
- Manufacturer’s name – Pretty obvious here, in this column you want to record every single tablet manufacturer you come across.
Tip: Try to keep your list in alphabetical order, it will really save time when searching for a particular manufacturer you’ve already recorded. If you struggle to do this using ‘command F’ for mac users or ‘control F’ for windows users will bring up a search box, you’ll be able to type into here what manufacturer you’re looking for and it will highlight it on your list.
- Manufacturer’s website – Again, very simply, if the manufacturer has a website, and they are very likely to have one, record it here.
- Manufacturer’s contact details – Recording their contact details will speed up time when you start to call your or email potential manufacturers.
- Date of contact – This is important, you may want to talk to many different tablet case manufacturers, so keeping track of when you spoke to them will help you if you need to follow up on any details.
- Contact person – Recording who you spoke to is essential. You don’t want to be talking to new people every time you call the same manufacturer, it can slow the process down. You want to find out who is the best person to speak to and keep speaking to them.
- Notes – This is where you record all of the information you gathered from each phone call with the manufacturer’s. Maybe, they told you they were going to email you the breakdown of costs by Friday of this week. Recording this means you can always keep up-to-date and stay on top of things. You may be speaking to a number of different manufacturers and you don’t want to fall behind, or forget about any key information you need.
It’s important to update this list as soon as you find and talk to tablet case manufacturers. This will stop you from potentially missing out on would could be a great partnership. Updating what you talk about is key to getting all the information you can so you can make the best possible choice between them.
There you have it, building a master list is a very simple process that’s essential to staying up-to-date and on top of finding the perfect tablet case manufacturer for you.
How to Choose the Right Manufacturer
Once you’ve finished your master list of tablet case manufacturers and you’ve determined who you might like to work with, you must start contacting factories and ask for references. This is important before you start the process and agree on production, you need to be sure the manufacturer you’re going to work with is reliable and won’t leave you in a horrible situation further down the line.
Remember to keep updating your master list with new information after every phone call.
Ask for References
The tablet case manufacturers should be excited to provide you with lots of happy customers to speak to. If not, take that as a warning sign and it’s recommended that you shouldn’t continue with this manufacturer.
Tip: Ask the manufacturer for at least five references. These should ideally be customers. If there are businesses of similar size and/or category as yours, it’s all the better.
Here’s a list of important questions you should ask the references:
- Was the tablet case made to the required specifications?
- What percentage of the shipment was defective?
- If there was a problem with the shipment, did the manufacturer make restitution?
- Were deadlines met? If not, what did the manufacturer offer to make amends?
- Is what was promised delivered?
- How is the quality of good they produce?
- How long have you worked with this person and factory?
- How many orders have you placed?
- Is your contact easy to work with?
- Is he/she responsive to calls and emails?
- What type of projects does the manufacturer excel in producing?
- What type of companies do they normally work with?
- If the manufacturer is overseas, who is responsible for landing the goods in the U.S
Try and contact as many of the references as you can. This will put you in the best position moving forward and help you narrow down your master list.
Ratings and Certifications
Mostly all manufacturers will maintain a presence on major B2B platforms. Take your time and dig through their online profile and check their ratings over time. Make note of any excessively negative feedback and add it to your master list. Take note of other quality indicators such as years in business, total transactions, and certifications.
Lastly, search for the manufacturer by name online, look out for any scam warnings or negative reviews. Always proceed with caution.
Ask for Samples
You need to determine just how good each tablet case manufacturer is. You’ll need to ask for samples of tablet cases they have made in the past. Serious manufacturers will not have a problem with this and will be more than happy to send you some samples at no extra cost. If a manufacturer is unwilling to send a few samples, they won’t make a good partner and cross them off your list.
Key questions when asking for samples:
- Where is their factory located? This will impact your shipping times.
- What is their shipping process?
- Do they have partnerships with logistics companies?
- Can they help with clearing customs?
Once you get your samples, you’ll need to examine them for quality and consistency. If they meet your standards, then fantastic, this is a manufacturer worth considering. If not, remove them from your list and move on.
Once you have finished this process, it’s time to start contacting your preferred manufacturers and asking them some more key questions. These will help you determine which manufacturer is best for you.
- Minimum order quantity (MOQ) – The more tablet cases you order, the less each one will cost. Every manufacturer will have a minimum order quantity. You may need to strike a balance here. You don’t want to spend too much and buy way more than you need, but you don’t want to seek such a small amount that you have to use a second-rate factory. See MOQ negotiations for more information.
- Prices per samples – Before choosing your tablet case manufacturer, you need to get a sample of your product made and inspect its quality. Prices for samples can vary widely from free to a discounted price of manufacturing the tablet case.
- Production costs – You’ll want to find out how prices can change depending on order volume. Ask for a full breakdown of costs, e.g., cost for the time, the cost of shipping, the cost of tariffs and anything else that the manufacturer includes in pricing.
- Time to manufacture – How long will the total time be for them to make your order? This is key and can make or break your choice of supplier. You don’t want to have to wait too long before you get your tablet cases.
- Manufacturing style – This will depend on the quantity of tablet cases you are looking to order. You need to make sure the manufacturer will be able to produce the style of case you are looking for. Whether it’s just a standard blank case, or if they will need to use custom molding or tooling, or custom production for leather cases.
- Payment terms – Some manufacturers offer credit terms if you qualify. These terms can range from 15, 30, or 60 days and can change with different manufacturers. This means that, for up to a particular payment amount, you will be billed for what you ordered and you won’t have to pay until later.
- Under what circumstances will my prices change? – talk to the manufacturer about market changes that can make your price go up or down. This could depend on the type of material you’re using so ask as many questions as possible to learn about the commodity market for your tablet, so you can take fluctuations into account.
- When will I take ownership? – Some manufacturers have you take ownership when the product leaves their docks. Other times, you don’t take ownership of a bulk order until it is delivered to your door. The easiest way to know is to ask your manufacturer what the FOB point is. The FOB point is where the ownership of your tablet cases transfer.
- Liability Insurance – Find out from your manufacturer can provide a liability insurance certificate. This can protect you in the event there is a recall or other issues with your tablet cases.
- What other companies do they manufacture for? – If you’re talking to a manufacturer who produces tablet cases for companies with recognizable brands, you know that their facilities have been visited and audited by major companies across the world.
- Facility size – The bigger the factory size and the more employees that have, the longer they have been in the business of manufacturing. This will tell you that they have experience in their field.
- Quality assurances – What quality assurance steps do they take, and how many points throughout production? This is the most important step in the manufacturing process. The more quality assurance steps they take, the lower the risk of defective products and components.
- Sourcing materials – Find out where your manufacturer will be purchasing the required materials and components to make your tablet case. The best way to ensure that your materials and components are high-quality is to ask the manufacturer to give you a list of materials and names of the factories that they buy them from.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you ask the same questions and get the same information from each manufacturer you speak to. This way, you’ll be able to make a direct comparison between each on and decide on your best options.
Taking your time, and getting as much information as you can before you choose can reduce the trails. Eliminating some of the headaches you can encounter when trying to find the right manufacturer. Companies have often lost significant amounts of money by not ensuring that they have chosen the right manufacturer, and if you’re on a smaller scale, you can’t afford these kind of losses. Do your homework, ask as many questions as you feel is needed. Not only will this help you find the right tablet case manufacturer, but it will show the manufacturer you pay attention to detail and you’re on top of their production.
Send Emails That Don’t Get Ignored
You should understand that manufacturers get a serious amount of email quote requests every day. Most of these are people just testing the waters and are not serious, so it’s not uncommon for many manufacturers not to reply to every request. A lack of responsiveness is a common complaint.
Here are a few tips on how not to get ignored:
- Keep the emails short – Your first email to a tablet case manufacturer should be clear, concise, and straight to the point. Avoid telling your life story here, it should purely be to assess if this manufacturer is a good fit.
- Don’t ask for too much – It’s important to ask for a few prices for multiple cases, but avoid asking too many questions. Stick to asking for what you need to see if this manufacturer is a good for you.
- Don’t ask for too little – Asking for a quote that is way below the manufacturer’s minimum order is a tried and trusted way of getting ignored. If you’re not sure on what the minimum order is, a quick call or a one question email before will do the trick.
Emailing tablet manufacturers overseas? Keep in mind that they many be translating your emails with computer programs, as well as using this for their reply. To help get better replies, keeping your emails short, concise, and well formatted with no spelling errors will ensure better communication from both sides
Here’s a template you could use when sending out an email:
Hi, [Name if possible]
My name is [Your Name] and I am from [Company Name]
I am interested in placing an order for tablet cases. I just have a few questions:
I would like to order a sample tablet case to verify quality. Can you please send me the relevant information for this, and shipping costs to:
If this is the first time looking for tablet case manufacturers, then you’ll soon learn about ‘minimum order quantities’ or ‘MOQ’s’. It’s very common for manufacturers to require a commitment from yourself to purchase a certain number of tablet cases. It can be difficult if you have limited funds, or are simply want to play it safe before making a larger order. The good news is that MOQ’s are almost always negotiable.
You need to understand why your tablet case manufacturer has imposed a minimum order. Is there a lot of work upfront? Or does the manufacturer prefer to work with larger buyers? The main reasons for this with tablet case manufacturers is the material you’ve opted for. Manufacturers in China usually exclusively purchase materials and components from subcontractors upon receiving your order. Therefore, manufacturers MOQs are often a reflection of their subcontractors MOQs.
Real Leather cases will almost always come with a higher minimum order over cheaper plastic cases. You’ll need to take into account the amount of work it will take if you want to manufacture a totally new case design. As the manufacturer will have to go through the process of tooling a molding.
Here are some strategies you could implement to lower your manufacturers MOQ requirements:
- Streamline the usage of material and components – MOQs are often a direct reflection of the manufacturer’s subcontractors. They’ll have to purchase the materials and components from various subcontractors. As a result, a tablet case made from multiple materials may force the manufacturer to raise the MOQs.
- Limit case customization – Simply adding color or a logo on a pre-existing tablet case design is less complex to achieve. The more customizations you add, and if you want a totally new design, your MOQ will be higher as a result of extra work.
- Offer to pay a higher price – As MOQs are often a reflection of the subcontractors MOQ, many manufacturers will maintain a stock of ‘high turnover’ materials and components. Sometimes this means they will be willing to manufacture a smaller quantity of tablet cases. But considering their low-profit margins, it’s often not worth their time. If you offer to pay a higher price e.g., 10-20% more, the manufacturer may be willing to accept a smaller order.
Quoting Your Order
Once you’ve screened all of your potential manufacturers, you’ll be left with the ones that best suits you. The next step, in making that all important final choice and get an overall quote for your project. You’ll need to send your design or sample to the manufacturer and have them provide you with a quote. Before you start sending off samples of your tablet case design, you’ll need to get the manufacturers to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
You’re probably at the stage now where you have your case design, or you’ve created a brand new style of tablet case, you’re left with a few different manufacturers that you’re excited about testing out. However, your ideas need to be protected and you don’t want them to be exposed to everyone right away. A way you can protect your work and maintain confidentiality before your design is on display for all to see is to get your prospective tablet case manufacturer to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
NDAs are good practise for few reasons. If your tablet case manufacturer is not willing to sign, then you’ve got a super bright warning sign flashing right in your face. Secondly, if you’ve gone through the process of designing a brand new tablet case, with great features, these ideas are valuable to you. This should be shared and respected by those who manufactures your ideas. When they agree to an NDA, they’re demonstrating their understanding of the value of your ideas.
When to Sign
Once you’ve generally discussed your tablet case design with your manufacturer and determined that there is potential they’re a good fit, then you should ask them to sign before disclosing the specifics of your tablet case.
An NDA is not a 100% guarantee that your tablet case design will be completely protected from copycats. NDAs can be difficult to enforce if its terms are violated, generally because your damages for breach of contract are speculative. Meaning there is no certain profit that you would have derived should your design come to life.
However, it’s far more advisable to have an NDA in your pocket than no protection for yourself. It also helps sets your level of expectation with the manufacturers you are considering.
Here’s an example of a basic Non-Disclosure Agreement:
This Nondisclosure Agreement (the “Agreement”) is entered into by and between _______________ with its principal offices at _______________ (“Disclosing Party”) and _______________, located at _______________ (“Receiving Party”) for the purpose of preventing the unauthorized disclosure of Confidential Information as defined below. The parties agree to enter into a confidential relationship with respect to the disclosure of certain proprietary and confidential information (“Confidential Information”).
- Definition of Confidential Information. For purposes of this Agreement, “Confidential Information” shall include all information or material that has or could have commercial value or other utility in the business in which Disclosing Party is engaged. If Confidential Information is in written form, the Disclosing Party shall label or stamp the materials with the word “Confidential” or some similar warning. If Confidential Information is transmitted orally, the Disclosing Party shall promptly provide a writing indicating that such oral communication constituted Confidential Information.
- Exclusions from Confidential Information. Receiving Party’s obligations under this Agreement do not extend to information that is: (a) publicly known at the time of disclosure or subsequently becomes publicly known through no fault of the Receiving Party; (b) discovered or created by the Receiving Party before disclosure by Disclosing Party; (c) learned by the Receiving Party through legitimate means other than from the Disclosing Party or Disclosing Party’s representatives; or (d) is disclosed by Receiving Party with Disclosing Party’s prior written approval.
- Obligations of Receiving Party. Receiving Party shall hold and maintain the Confidential Information in strictest confidence for the sole and exclusive benefit of the Disclosing Party. Receiving Party shall carefully restrict access to Confidential Information to employees, contractors, and third parties as is reasonably required and shall require those persons to sign nondisclosure restrictions at least as protective as those in this Agreement. Receiving Party shall not, without prior written approval of Disclosing Party, use for Receiving Party’s own benefit, publish, copy, or otherwise disclose to others, or permit the use by others for their benefit or to the detriment of Disclosing Party, any Confidential Information. Receiving Party shall return to Disclosing Party any and all records, notes, and other written, printed, or tangible materials in its possession pertaining to Confidential Information immediately if Disclosing Party requests it in writing.
- Time Periods. The nondisclosure provisions of this Agreement shall survive the termination of this Agreement and Receiving Party’s duty to hold Confidential Information in confidence shall remain in effect until the Confidential Information no longer qualifies as a trade secret or until Disclosing Party sends Receiving Party written notice releasing Receiving Party from this Agreement, whichever occurs first.
- Relationships. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be deemed to constitute either party a partner, joint venturer or employee of the other party for any purpose.
- Severability. If a court finds any provision of this Agreement invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement shall be interpreted so as best to effect the intent of the parties.
- Integration. This Agreement expresses the complete understanding of the parties with respect to the subject matter and supersedes all prior proposals, agreements, representations, and understandings. This Agreement may not be amended except in a writing signed by both parties.
- Waiver. The failure to exercise any right provided in this Agreement shall not be a waiver of prior or subsequent rights.
This Agreement and each party’s obligations shall be binding on the representatives, assigns, and successors of such party. Each party has signed this Agreement through its authorized representative.
Printed Name: ___________
Printed Name: __________
Completing the Confidentiality Agreement
In the sample agreement, the “Disclosing Party” is the person disclosing secrets, and the “Receiving Party” is the person who receives the confidential information and is obligated to keep it secret. The terms are capitalized to indicate that they should be interpreted as defined within the agreement. The sample agreement is a “one-way” (or, in legalese, “unilateral”) agreement — that is, only one party is disclosing secrets. If each side is disclosing secrets to the other, you should modify the agreement to make it a mutual (or “bilateral”) nondisclosure agreement. To do that, substitute the following paragraph for the first paragraph in the agreement.
This Nondisclosure agreement (the “Agreement”) is entered into by and between ____ [insert your name, business form, and address] and ____ [insert name, business form, and address of other person or company with whom you are exchanging information] collectively referred to as the “parties” for the purpose of preventing the unauthorized disclosure of Confidential Information as defined below. The parties agree to enter into a confidential relationship with respect to the disclosure by one or each (the “Disclosing Party”) to the other (the “Receiving Party”) of certain proprietary and confidential information (the “Confidential Information”).
Getting your Quote
Once your NDA is signed, it’s time to start sending your design plans to prospective manufacturers and getting a quote. What’s important to remember, is that you need to have the different tablet manufacturers quote the same quantities and the same quality of material. Things to note:
- Is the material the same and of the same quality?
- Is it for the same number of units
- Does the quote include shipping, duties, custom fees, etc? Or are you responsible?
If you’re getting a quote from a manufacturer in China, the quote will include terms such as FOB China (freight on board), or FOB (destination port). FOB China means the price quoted to you is for the goods to be delivered to the port in China. This means you will be responsible for shipping, duties, customs fees, insurance, etc. from China to your country. It’s important that you know the tablet cases tariff code and what these additional taxes add to the total cost. If you receive your quote and it’s FOB L.A (for example), this would mean all shipping, duties, and customs fees have been included as far as the Los Angeles port. You would then need to pay to get your tablet cases from the port to your final destination.
Buying Tablet Cases FOB China
If you’re buying tablet cases FOB China, then you would need to hire a customs broker and freight forwarder. Customs brokers or customs agents are individuals or firms licensed to enter and clear your product through customs for others. A freight forwarder is a person who is engaged in assembling, collecting, and consolidating shipping and distribution less than a trailer load (LTL) freight. You’ll need to contact various companies that handle both of these responsibilities to get a better understanding of what is involved.
Tips for Choosing your Customs Broker and Freight Forwarder
- Look to see if you can find a broker who specializes or has experience in clearing tablet cases or similar products through customs.
- If you have to clear your tablet cases through several ports, you should hire a broker with offices in those ports. A local one-office broker may give you a great service in their home port, but they’ll use sub-agents in other ports. This could lose a great deal of control.
- The broker or freight forwarder must be fully automated with full connectivity to the tools necessary to partner with yourself
- Freight forwarders: make sure you are requesting and receiving a copy of what was filed in AES on your behalf and that you are auditing the information. You need to make sure this was done properly if not, get it corrected as soon as you identify the error.
- Customs brokers: they’ll need access to not only your local customs but, also various web portals and cargo tracking sites. Your broker should be able to communicate easily with you via telephone, email, and fax.
- Ask for a reference from previous customers. You can also get relatively unbiased feedback from ocean and air carriers.
- Make sure you have a written agreement and your freight forwarder and broker are on the same page about every aspect. This agreement should include the scope of work that you want the broker to perform, fee structure for each service, and operation procedures and contacts. Periodically review the agreement with your broker or freight forwarder and make adjustments to reflect any changes.
- Expect some delays and plan for adjustments. However, if the adjustment period lasts longer than one month, you would need to reevaluate your situation.
- If you have problems, call a meeting after two weeks to try and stop them.
- Mistakes happen but, unresponsiveness, rude behavior, and improper activity shouldn’t be tolerated.
It’s vitally important that you select a customs broker who can handle your customs business efficiently and accurately. A good broker is an invaluable partner. Work closely with them on classification and valuation issues. This will help minimize entry errors and enhance compliance.
The wrong partner can cost you delays, errors on entries, and even fines. So take your time and do your homework.
Negotiating Your Quote
It is very common and most manufacturers will expect to negotiate the cost. So, sit on the quote for a day or two, then go back and ask for a better price. You know what you need to pay in order to meet your margins, it’s always good to have room for a distributor to get paid.
With currency fluctuations, quotes given are usually good for 30 days. So if you delay the order beyond this time frame, make sure you ask if the quote has changed in any way.
Shipping: Ocean Freight Vs. Air Freight
When it comes to shipping your tablet cases you’ll have the choice of shipping your product using ocean freight or air freight. Let’s take a look at some key factors you will need to consider.
The first thought that probably came to mind when you thought about which shipping method you’d prefer. The bottom line is, you have a budget and you’ll want to stick to it, so naturally you’ll need to know which is the cheaper option. Typically, shipping by the ocean is the cheaper option however, this is not always true.
So you can make the best decision, it helps if you have some knowledge about how carriers charge for international shipping. Airlines will bill you by what is called chargeable weight. Chargeable weight is calculated from a combination of the weight and size of your shipment. Ocean sea carriers charge per container rate, the
most common container sizes being 20’ and 40’. While weight can be a factor of the price from ocean carriers, their charge tends to be based on the volume of shipment. So for a larger and heavier shipment of tablet cases, ocean freight is often the cheaper option. The smaller and smaller the shipment is, the margin between the prices gets smaller, and sometimes air will even end up being less expensive.
You will also need to account for destination charges. Whether shipping by air or ocean, there will be customs and destination fees (Quoting Your Order for more information on hiring a broker/ freight forwarder). While the actual cost of ocean freight is usually cheaper, the warehousing fees at seaports are more expensive than those at airports.
For calculating costs take a look at Universal Cargo for a shipping calculator.
Almost every time air freight will be a much faster option for you. If time is money, and you’re working on a tight deadline, this could more than make up for a higher cost. Many ocean freights can take around a month to arrive, whereas this can only be a few days with an air shipment.
Note: Technology keeps moving forward in the international shipping world, ships are getting faster, and canals have created shorter shipping routes. Some ocean freight shipments are being delivered in as few as 8 days.
Something that you will definitely want to consider, how does ocean freight shipping compare to air freight? Although ocean freight shipping has a much longer history, air freight tends to win the battle of reliability. Flights can be delayed due to weather etc. but airlines tend to be very on top of their schedules. Ocean carriers have a reputation for being bad about this. It is not uncommon for a ship to fall behind on schedule. For most, a day or two won’t hurt cause serious damage, however, you’ll need to take this into account if you are very strict on your deadlines. Airlines usually work on daily schedules, back and forth between major cities, so if your cargo misses a flight, it doesn’t cause too much of a delay. Whereas, ships tend to work on weekly schedules, so missing a cutoff means a longer delay.
This may not be a big concern of yours, but for some people, and companies, it’s extremely important to lower their carbon footprint. If your company has a negative impact on the environment it can change the way people view your business. Ocean freight is the most environmentally friendly option here. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are much higher during air freight transportation. Publicly available statistics shows that 1,000 kilograms of air freight will on average emit 500 grams of CO2 per kilometer on a standard cargo airplane. If your cargo is shipped by sea on a modern container vessel, the emissions are reduced to 15 grams per kilometer.
The Pre-production Process
Once you’ve selected the tablet case manufacturers you’d like to work with, and you’ve had your NDA agreed and signed, it’s time to start the preproduction process and see which manufacturer produces the best tablet case for the best price. You’ll need to send the manufacturers detailed design file, most of the problems caused when manufacturing products comes from unclear requirements up front.
Let’s take a look at what you can include in your design file that will help your manufacturer produce the tablet case you want.
The product descriptions a detailed overview of what the product is intended to be. It should allow anyone who reads it to obtain and clear understanding of what is involved in order to make your tablet case. Your product description should include the following:
- Why is it needed?
- What is it made of?
- What will it look like?
- How long should it take to create?
- What are the acceptance criteria?
- How will those criteria be met?
Remember, when deciding on colors, even white could have a number of variations. So make sure you know the exact type of colors you want.
The functionality description should have detailed information about how the tablet case works in operation, as well as its limitations.
3D CAD Files
If you’re designing a brand new type of tablet case, your manufacturer will probably need a computer-aided design. The vast majority of hard goods being designed today are designed using 3D design software. Some of the most popular are CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, and SolidWorks. What’s important is you know what formats your manufacturer can use and what they require.
2D Technical Drawings
2D technical drawings are extremely important in include in your design file. They communicate the finite details of how your tablet case is manufactured. The technical drawings need to include all the information from the person who designs the tablet case.
This is actually a legal document because it communicates the needed information about what you want to the manufacturer who will provide it. In conjunction with the purchase order and any other documents, you are advised to make it part of the contract.
Getting the technical drawing right is vital to the success of producing the tablet case you want.
Here are some basic elements that need to be included:
Title Block information
Key information provided about your tablet case design
- Company that owns the design
- Designer’s name
- Drawing checked by name
- Identification number (or part number)
- Product name (or part name)
- Date of release
- Revision level (important for change control)
The drawing of your tablet case or case design. You should show it from a number of different views and from different positions or viewpoints. It is required to show sectional views that can provide more detailed information where required.
The dimensions control the feature-of-size, which could consist of two parallel surfaces, a cylindrical surface, or a spherical surface, in each case, it must be defined with a linear size. The limits-of-size controls only the actual local sizes (two-point measurements) of a feature-of-size. Not its deviations of form, for example, the flatness, roundness, or the straightness of the feature.
This is applied to a dimension and it shows an upper and lower limit for that dimension. The accuracy of the dimension is shown by the number of decimal places. A dimension that has a tolerance applied shows a specific requirement for that feature-of-size.
Example: 24.1 +/- 0.01 shows it has an upper limit of 25.41 and a lower limit of 25.39.
Critical to Quality Information (CTQ)
You can show this in the form of geometric tolerancing or CTQ notes. Geometric tolerancing adds a layer of tolerance on top of the stand limits-of-size dimension and adds that tolerance to it. It specifies the tolerance of geometric characteristics. Using the universal language of symbols, it allows a design engineer to precisely and logically describes features in a way that can be accurately manufactured and inspected.
CTQ notes should include the surface finish, color, heat treatment, and any other specific attribute that is essential to quality that’s not associated with a dimension. CTQ information needs to be highlighted on the technical drawing.
What’s important to remember from creating your design files to send to your manufacturer is, do not take shortcuts! Make sure all of the information required to produce your tablet case is included within the design file. If you feel like added additional notes, that’s excellent, always add as much information as possible. Especially when providing information about key areas that are critical to your tablet case’s success. Don’t worry about asking your manufacturer if they understand every detail and double checking. A complete and comprehensive design file will make the process a lot easier.
Write a Contract/ Sales Agreement
Getting your tablet cases manufactured overseas can be a risky and complex process. However, getting your manufacturer to sign a contract can be the antidote against a wide range of common mistake and issues that can occur when using a Chinese manufacturer.
Here’s why it’s important:
Crystal Clear Product Specifications
Misunderstandings with your manufacturer with your materials, design, components, and colors are some of the most common reasons why issues arise, especially in China.
- Important specifications can be lost in translations when communicating via email/skype
- Can be common for sales managers to confirm orders that the manufacturer doesn’t have the capability to make. E.g., using certain materials or components. You will most likely be communicating with a sales assistant when discussing prices and orders, and not engineers who have a deeper understanding of your product
- Don’t make the mistake of assuming suppliers will “fill the gaps” on the tablet case specification list. If there is an unspecified part of your tablet cases specification, manufacturers will “fill the gaps” but this may not be to your liking. They could even end up using a cheaper, poor-quality materials or components
- In a sales agreement, as mentioned above in your designed file, you can clearly state all product specifications, colors, logo, materials, components, and dimensions. You can also add attachments samples and sample photocopiers to make it even more clear
It’s not massively uncommon that Chinese manufacturers make huge promises on pricing a product quality to get your business, then cut corners during production. A contract can be a great way of making your manufacturer aware there is a serious risk if they try to cheat you.
Include the following in your contract:
- Specification of defects and damages that are not acceptable
- How a damaged or defective product will be compensated and within what time frame
- Your manufactured can’t request full payment until your tablet cases have passed quality inspection (see quality control plan below)
- Your manufacturer will refund your deposit payment if the quality inspection and/or product testing fails
Stating clear compensations terms will communicate to your supplier that any non-compliance will expose them to serious risks. Never prepay the whole order before production, this only works if you withhold the final payment until after your tablet cases have gone through quality control or testing.
Include a late delivery clause that will become active after a certain amount of days, counting from the date of the deposit payment. Commonly this is the stated production time +7 days. Specify an amount of money (usually around 1% of total value) that shall be deducted from the final balance payment every day until the order is ready for delivery.
If your manufacturer has a number of different orders in the pipeline and the schedule is getting tight. If your contract contains a late delivery clause, whose production line do you think they will prioritize?
Be Taken Seriously
Chinese manufacturers are very accustomed to signing agreements with new buyers. If you don’t put forward a sales agreement, you may look disorganized, and you can be expected to be quoted like one.
Quality Control Plan
A quality control plan is useful as it helps you define your expectations with your manufacturer before you start full production. There are two types of quality control plans:
The quality control plan to include in a contract with your tablet case manufacturer
The control plan that decomposes production in each step (also known as control plan)
The Quality Control Plan to Include in a Contract
Defining a quality control plan with your new tablet case manufacturer is something that can only take 5 minutes, but can save you lots of time and money. The plan is a standard exhibit in contracts drafted by lawyers, together with the PO and product specifications.
Here’s what you could include:
Timing of Inspections
You reserve the right to send one of your employees or representatives to the manufacturing factory to inspect production of your tablet cases at any time.
Communication of Status of Production
- Your manufacturer should send an email to your 3 days before they receive the main materials/components and should send a confirmation email on they day they arrive in the factory’s warehouse
- Your manufacturer should send an email to you 3 days before they start working on your tablet cases, and should send a confirmation email on the same day it happens
- Your manufacturer should send an email to you 3 days before the first finish products are out of the lines, and should send a confirmation email on the same day it happens
- Your manufacturer should send an email to you 3 days before 100% of the shipment quantity is finished and 80% is fully packed (ready to ship), and should send you a confirmation email on the same day it happens
- Your manufacturer should send an email to you every time some samples are sent for testing
Quality Control Activities
You reserve the right to perform the following quality control activities, and any other activity not described below.
- Product inspections – random inspections of products, conducted based on the ISO2859-1 standard (single stage, normal severity, level to be determined as we see fit). Acceptable quality level (AQL) is 0% for critical defects, 2.5% for major defects, and 4.0% for minor defects.
- Lab tests – The manufacturer will have to send two samples to (name) laboratory for (required tests) tests, in order to respect the consumer safety law of the importing country. These samples must be extracted from bulk production. You may, or may not, ask the inspector to pick these samples.
If your tablet cases inspection or lab tests are failed, your manufacturer will get in contact with you within 24 hours with a detailed explanation. If the shipment is delayed because of unacceptable quality, the manufacturer will bear all consequences for this delay.
If a product inspection is refused, you have the right to ask for a re-inspection, the cost of which will be re-invoiced to the manufacturer in full.
If all inspections and tests are passed, the manufacturer still has to wait for your agreement for shipment.
Even if all inspections and tests are passed, they do not relieve the manufacturer from its contractual liabilities to your right for compensation for any apparent and/or hidden defects not detected by the inspection(s) and/or test(s).
The Production Control Plan
Getting this document written forces your chosen manufacturer to do two things:
Identify each process step, and indicate whether it is crucial (will it cause serious quality issues if improperly handled) or not
Define the quality control checks, what is checked, how often, using what method, and how it’s recorded
It’s a plan that is mostly conducted by the North American automobile industry. However, it can be very useful for your getting a fully customized tablet case manufactured.
After these documentations are prepared by yourself, if you can (or a trusted representative), it’s advised to spend some time in the factory so they can explain how they work and what is supposed to happen.
This is not essential to getting your tablet case manufactured. What it does do, is allow you to feel more relaxed about the whole process, and stay on top of production, especially if you’re planning on a very large order.
Test Your Samples
What you’ll probably discover when talking to your manufacturer after they’ve received your design files, is that they will say they can make this exactly like your sample. Most of the time, when you receive your first sample, it won’t be exactly what you want. The key here is to remember this is normal and don’t get worried. Every time you get a sample back, put it through rigorous quality checks.
- Material and components
- Assembly and workmanship
- Size, weight, and other measurements
- Colors, finishing, and aspect
- Labeling, logo, tags, stickers
- Packaging: retail packing, cartons, shipping marks
You will want to test your sample as if it were the final one. There are so many little details that should not be overlooked here. Test your tablet cases in every way you can, make sure that it does exactly what you want it to, to the standard you want it to. When you’re testing your samples, this is a chance to red flag anything that is wrong before you commit to your order.
Amended in Collaboration with your Manufacturer
When you find issues with your sample tablet case, be sure to take pictures or videos, keep detailed notes, make copies, and send everything back to the manufacturer with your sample. This phase is all about finding problems with your product and avoiding any horrible surprises that might otherwise have been overlooked when you were designing your tablet case. It’s a lot easier to correct errors at this stage rather than doing it when it’s in full production.
Important: Always make adjustments in collaboration with your manufacturer, check and double check they understand, this will ensure you get a quality tablet case.
Once you’ve gone through testing samples and you’ve received a quality tablet case that you’re happy with from a manufacturer you feel comfortable using, it’s time to place your order. The majority of manufacturers will request a purchase order, and you should want to create one. This is a legal document between you and the manufacturer. The information you include here is vital, it important you include everything.
If you leave out certain information, you may have no recourse if something goes wrong. You must be specific and include as much detail as you can. When creating your purchase order, be aware of local holidays and customs that could affect your order and it’s delivery. If you’re using a Chinese manufacturer for example, during Chinese New Year (end of January), most of the manufacturers will close their factories for at least two weeks, so if your order is time-sensitive you’ll need a plan for this.
Purchase Order (PO)
Some smaller companies that get manufactured goods without a purchase order (PO). These companies will simply accept the proforma invoice from their chosen supplier. You could do this, but then you’re putting yourself in danger, and it shouts “inexperienced buyer” to the manufacturer. That’s not the main problem. If you write your own PO, you can control what goes inside the PO. You can write all of the information that you think is important, and refer to other documents that must be complied with by the supplier.
What to Write
- Your identification, with either your logo or company name in large characters
- Full contact information of the person who follows the order in your organization
- Full manufacturer company information
- The complete beneficiary Bank Account Details
- PO (unique) number, PO date, corresponding PO number of your manufacturer (if any).
- A list of your tablet case order with quantity, unit price, and total price
- The most important specifications of your tablet cases (don’t forget labeling and packaging)
- Terms of purchase: currency, incoterm, loading port and receiving port (for sea shipments), shipment date promised by manufacturer, payment terms, penalty for late shipment
- If you have a quality control plan, refer to it on your PO (learn more about a quality control plan in the next section)
- Most important of all, get the PO stamped with the Red Round Chop and have the general manager sign it
If you don’t have a PO form, you can easily do a simple Google search and find a free template for yourself.
Once you’ve placed your order, you will have to pay a portion of the balance due before your manufacturer will begin the production of your tablet cases. It’s common, and most factories will ask you to make a payment before the pre-production run sample is made. The most common payment terms are 30 percent at the time of your order, 30 percent when your tablet cases get on the boat or plane, and the final 40% when your cases reach your country. If a manufacturer is asking you for full payment upfront, you should be skeptical.
Depending on the quantities of cases you’ve ordered and the level of customization, it will take a few weeks to have your tablet cases manufactured. Then you will have to allow for shipping, if you’re buying from China and you’re in the US, this can take three to four weeks. From start to finish, your order would usually take 70-90 days.
Getting custom tablet cases manufactured can be stressful, frustrating, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking. But, as you move along the process, it gets easier and less intimidating. When your very own custom made tablet cases arrive, precisely how you want them, ready to use or beautifully packaged for resale, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment you never before imagined.
For more information on getting your own tablet cases manufactured, visit us online here