Knights in plastic and silicone: a detailed look at phone cases

For many of us, our phones are as important as our right arm. We feel lost without it, we rely on it to help us through our everyday lives and we would be beyond devastated should it come to any harm.

After spending a fair amount of our hard-earned money on the latest gadget, we want to do everything to protect it from harm, and so phone cases have become a necessary item in modern society.

You probably spend hours a day holding your phone case, but have you ever wondered how it’s made, or exactly how the various materials help protect your device? Let’s take a quick look at how the two most popular types of phone – plastic and silicone – cases are made.


Image source: Flickr Creative Commons

Plastic cases consist of a back and a front piece that snap together around your phone, and are usually produced with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU for short). This elastomer is moulded in an injection mould (for more information about mould-making, watch this video) has many useful properties for making phone cases like transparency, flexibility and resistance to oil and abrasion. Another incredibly durable substance often used for phone cases is polycarbonate – the same material used for bulletproof windows!

Plastic cases are all about personalisation (as they come in a plethora of styles and are pretty inexpensive so you can switch them out as often as you like) but more importantly, they offer a higher level of impact protection.


Image source: StockSnap

Silicone skins are another common option for protecting your smartphone. Silicone cases have a gel-like, rubbery consistency and are shaped by injection moulds, like plastic cases. Alternatively you can make your own silicone case – watch this YouTube tutorial to see how (warning: it has a pretty intense soundtrack so make sure the volume’s at a civilised level…).The texture of silicone means that your phone has a good grip so it’s less likely to slip out of your hand or pocket, but the downside to this kind of case is it’s a magnet for dust and lint. Silicone is a decent protectant against low-level impact, and is somewhat water-resistant (although there are so many great waterproof phones out there now that if you fear aquatic damage, a case will only do so much).

Image source: Fotolia

Because our smartphones are growing increasingly smarter, we have more to lose should something happen, and our phone cases are getting even better at protecting our devices. Companies like Tech21 are expanding on the capabilities of impact protection using FlexShock, a material they developed that simultaneously absorbs and repels the shock of an impact. This substance encircles the edges of the phone, covering all the likely places of contact should your phone take an unfortunate tumble.

With the right phone case, the tragedy pictured above won’t befall you, and you can go through life with your phone in hand, worry-free.


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