Inwin shows off its manufacturing tech as a concept

Computex 2014: S-Frame case is tougher than it looks

Inwin logoAt Computex this year Inwin was showing off its design and manufacturing prowess with another new concept case. The new S-Frame is not just beautiful, SemiAccurate thought it was the nicest of the show, but also a manufacturing tour de force.

At first glance the S-Frame is clearly different from all the other cases at the show mainly because it is made from one piece of folded aluminum. The S in the name is pretty obviously derived from the way it is made, just add a glass panel for the side and a few bits for the ports and bottom and you are done. As with the other *-Frame designs, it also happens to look very nice.

Inwin S-Frame concept case

Inwin S-Frame in black and red

The really interesting part is how it is made. You start out with a die cut piece of 4mm aluminum, really thick for a case. Then you fold it not once but 15 times in a very specific pattern, you can see the steps in the picture below. This is not a trivial job but you end up with a case made mostly from a single metal sheet. Given the thickness and complexity of the result, the S-Frame is a technical feat, this was a serious manufacturing challenge.

15-steps to an Inwin S-Frame case

15 steps to make an S=Frame chassis

More impressive is the finish, not the color but the process. Anodizing aluminum is a simple process but look at the S-Frame above, it is actually two colors. Anodizing aluminum in two distinct colors is, technically speaking, a b*tch. If anyone doesn’t think this case is a manufacturing triumph, you don’t understand what manufacturing challenges are. As with the rest of the Inwin concept cases, the S-Frame is a limited run of 500 units, each costing $799.

Inwin 904 Intel case with machined groove

The edge of an Inwin 904 concept case

Speaking of manufacturing challenges there was another technically interesting concept case that Inwin made for Intel. The case above is a standard Inwin 904 done up with Intel colors, logos, and all the rest. It is a very elegant case to begin with so rather than slapping the Intel ‘circuit’ logo on the front and having it stick out from the single smooth surface, this one indents it. The case was machined and the s-shaped logo was put in a side to side machined groove. The result was a complex shaped hole filled with the Intel themed design that was completely flush on the surface. Once again not the simple thing it appeared at first glance.

Last up was something that Inwin doesn’t tend to make a big deal about, at least in the public eye, servers. Most impressive of these was an Asrock labeled storage box which we weren’t allowed to take pictures of, a 4U 60 3.5″ HDD server. The drives were all stacked up vertically, the front and rear basically covered with fans, and a tiny little mobo taking up the back 25% or so. This case wasn’t all that good-looking but it was quite nicely made. Maybe next year we will get a pretty industrial chassis, stranger things have happened at Computex.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate