Manufacturing my tablet case

Hi all,

I have been selling and making my patent pending FlipSteady tablet cases for almost 1 year. I wanted to ask the board a question but I think I should familiarize you with my product first. Here is a video demo of my latest case design for a tablet called the Samsung Smart PC Pro Ativ 700t. I also show the entire process I use to make the case.

I’m currently selling my cases for $99 to $129 and they move well enough for me to keep personally hand making them. I have sold more than 600 cases to date. I would like to continue prototyping and making the product but would also love to do some real marketing and have versions that are less expensive and more widely adoptable.

Are my methods (shown in the video) even approaching what a manufacturer would want to do or would I need to redesign the product around more common manufacturing materials and practices?

I live in the Seattle area and would love to know if anyone knows of a local manufacturer that can handle the production of my cases.


Isaiah Coberly

First: Congratulations on bringing a quality design to market.

Second: You are selling to cheaply.

How much time goes into each item? 2-3 hours?

The best streamlining I could think about is loosing the trimming process altogether leaving you the shiny aluminium bits themselves. Why would you cover them?

Your process of trimming is simular to high end Italian furniture, but those are 10 times the price.
Sorry my typing is off as I am on my phone lying ill with the flue.


Always wear a spray mask!!

Thanks for the brilliant reply! You really have a knack for suggesting ideas to grow on.

I like the idea of showing a little leg = finished Aluminum. I will certainly be giving that a try.

Regarding the price, How much would you say I should charge? 1.5 hrs per case + $16 materials.

Thanks again!

Isaiah Coberly

So you are much faster than I would be.

As you are using some exensive machinery I’d say around 40 bucks an hour minimum. The price you are charging now would them be a lowball wholesale price. If you wamt to factor im dealers the new price per item would be around 225,-

Just some sandbox maths…

How is demand till now? Outstripping supply?


You might want to delete your actual product out of thi thread after some time, no?

Thanks for the math. The demand is currently pretty good considering the price and the niche markets I’m in. I wake up to
new orders every
day. This next production of cases that I am conducting this week will technically put me 15 cases ahead of the demand. I do expect to be selling more cases as reviews from the last production role in And wouldn’t be surprised if I sell the extra 15 and the 30 I have slated for next month’s production but Ill have To wait and see.

I’ll probably replace the Video at the top of this thread once I have a better video to show. I am a one man Band at the moment And marketing hasn’t been my highest concern… I just got a Canon T4i DSLR For my birthday and I’m trying to invent a good way to move the camera and show the flip of the case as clearly as I can.

Thanks for the reply!

Isaiah Conerly

That’s a great making-of video. Very interesting to watch. Appreciate you posting.

I don’t know if they are too expensive or too cheap. Seem pretty complex, but I $129 for a case seems a lot, though I can see there is a lot of functionality and quality that goes into it.

I’m not that clear on the use-case (maybe you can post more about what it does/who it is for, etc.), but seems a bit overly complex to me unless for a very specific use like police, medical, etc.

Does it really need all those functions you have built in? Could you make it with plastic instead of aluminum? A different fabric instead of suede?

I applaud you for making a very complex product. I can only imagine how long it must have taken to not only get the geometry of the design to function, but figure out how to make it efficiently, with all the jigs, process, etc.

Curious- is this a full time job, or a side project?


Your very welcome.

I simply set the price to fit my minimum needs in order to continue making them. I really can’t afford to compete so I abandon the notion altogether. I’m not exactly sure why but I really want to see my creation be successful and well received. I try and keep the price at something reasonably attainable so that that can happen in time.

The case is for people that want to use their tablet wherever they like doing whatever they are doing… The complexity of the case is premeditated to create an extraordinarily simple experience. Open the cover and set the tablet down. To change from portrait to landscape just Turn the computer and release. The unique structure of the folded stand dynamically adjusts and comes to rest in several very sturdy positions with zero direct manipulation. The stand naturally adapts to flat, round, slanted, soft, bumpy or drastically un-even surface. The most useful I have ever found my case to be is when I come to rest and use the tablet laying in bed, on the couch, on the floor or places where there is no table. I would slate the occupation as laziness in general. I suppose any individual trying to get comfortable can be a more difficult thing to accommodate than a fire fighter doing his job.

I would say that the Apple tri fold cover puts the aesthetic design on the simple side and leaves the experience to be complex. That seems backward to me.

Of coarse the case can be made of anything. I developed methods to make the case that are within my means yet keep the whole process and design pliable for change. I’m still not at a point where I would want to commit to a $50k mold for any part of the design.

Thank you. It’s actually more of a designed experience. That can be hard to get across in a video or photo but I’m still working on it.

A side project that is growing into a full time job. This is my first time to this rodeo so Im reinventing myself as I go along.

I actually started a thread here at Core77 a while ago. This thread steps through my progress in my last 2 years starting with a video of the discovery of the stand. I had never touched an industrial sewing machine at that point… :slight_smile:


Isaiah Coberly

I got a chance to have some fun at MS studios with a camera that takes 400 something frames a second… This video is 200 something.

Isaiah, nice to see you’re progressing. I’ve watched your project for a while now.

I simply set the price to fit my minimum needs in order to continue making them. > I really can’t afford to compete so I abandon the notion altogether. > I’m not exactly sure why but I really want to see my creation be successful and well received. I try and keep the price at something reasonably attainable so that that can happen in time.

Can’t compete? Then why do you continue to do this? This isn’t a hobby, is it?

There are some pretty basic formulas at work when manufacturing. There’s no reason (other than retail price resistance) that you can’t manufacture these per your own techniques. BUT, you’ll have to charge what they really cost you, or you’ll soon be out of business. Do you know what they cost you? Labor and materials aren’t the only things to consider.

Cost of Goods (all the materials required to manufacture the item (fabric, tooling & fixtures, thread, knife blades, board, adhesive, etc.)) + Labor (the hourly rate you have decided that you or your employee should be paid x the number of hours required to make the item) + Direct Cost (rent, electricity, phone, utilities, insurance, advertising, packaging, etc.) = Cost divided by the number of units you will manufacture (or anticipate that you will) This is the point that you break even. You haven’t made a penny. Sell them for this and you’ll be out of work pretty quick.

But breaking even isn’t enough, you deserve to make a Profit on each of your items so add 10-15% to the cost (this covers purchasing more materials, and paying for thinking up new products, etc.)

e.g. $10 cost x .15 = $1.50 + 10.00 = $11.50

Then multiple this x 2 (this figure can vary from 2-3) to determine your WHOLESALE price - the price you would sell them directly to “dealers”. Nowadays anyone can pretend to be a dealer so I’d suggest a minimum order amount (dollars or units).

The dealer will then double this price to determine the RETAIL price so that he can make some money too.

None of the above is cast in stone. It varies from business to business and by industry. Candy-makers, for example wouldn’t use this same formula. You will need to sharpen up your pencil and work out your own numbers (it’s a PITA but you need to do it).

If you are selling the item directly to the end-user then YOU charge the retail price (and pocket the margin). If you charge the end-user the wholesale price and your dealer(s) find this out they will, more than likely, drop your line (nobody like to be undersold).

I’m not a business administrator by any means, but these are things you need to consider.

Food for thought:


Thanks for the excellent info… I am just starting to reach a point where my methods, materials and supplies are become more predictably measured. Ill definately have a go a applying the method you suggest for finding wholesale and retail values…

Thanks again,

Isaiah Coberly

I thought I would update this thread with the latest… Here is my latest FlipSteady case design for the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix. This one is priced at 149.00 and doing quite well out of the gate.

From this video showing my 1st prototype I have sold more than 60 cases in the last 2 weeks and I aim to deliver up to 150 cases by the end of August. Some of my recipients are corporations interested in evaluating the product to outfit their fleets of hundreds of tablets. I hope to have large corporate orders landed for my fall productions.

I looked high and low for a local manufacturer to help me manufacture these cases but I lost my patience and set out to scale up and manufacture them myself. I have now taught 3 interested gentlemen how to make the cases. We are now starting a small jointly owned company called Alien Orchards that will manufacture FlipSteady cases and will grow to manufacture other products from other designers as well. Wish us luck!!

Ill let you know how it goes! :slight_smile:

Isaiah Coberly

More than a year without an update.

I’m still making my cases myself. I have sold quite a few now and have spent enough hours at work that my perspective has changed about outsourcing . Rather than seeking someone to make my product for me I have kept manufacturing them myself. Throughout my endless work at my studio I noticed that I was getting better and better with my hands. I noticed that my ideas tend to come to me less naïve and more born from experience. I don’t feel bad at all charging $199 for my latest design. Anyhow, Here is my latest work for the Wacom Cintiq Companion. Please enjoy.


Thanks for sharing all your manufacturing and prototyping process. I am definitely going to study this. I currently design furniture but have a semi softgoods idea I am thinking about prototyping soon.

I still love it and I hope that you get “bought out” by Apple, so that you get
rich and the product becomes “mainstream” and available in a shop near me.

In my eyes this is something, that will sell even better, if the customer has
the chance to get a “hands on experience”. The apple shops would be ideal
for this.

(Hermes a close second…) :wink: (joking)


This is somewhat unrelated but try checking out the style of some of these videos - reminded me of your most recent folding/refolding/repositioning video:


Its for a clothing label called Acronym. The fella in the video is one of the (two) designers - he’s a tad serious but that’s their schtick.

The “jutsu” part of the video name means “technique, method, spell, skill or trick”. With the myriad technical features of their technically-derived fashion he is showing concisely how its to be used.

You could even combine your flip videos with some of the high-speed camera work from earlier.

Cool work. Keep it up.

Another update and a new direction for my invention. I recently got my hands on some 2.7mm 5ply bamboo. I designed this version of my FlipSteady case for Paper Pad and pen. This is an easel made with bamboo, up cycled bicycle inner tube rubber and grosgrain ribbon for the laced living hinges. please let me know what you think.

In other news, after a few short years My utility patent has been granted!

I have made a very limited quantity of the next pre-production of Bamboo easels available at my website,



A couple of Updates in my Product design… Apparently I have made a tradition of posting updates in this thread when I make something new for the FlipSteady project… Here are some interesting video updates… Ill be back!

I designed a version of the FlipSteady using bamboo Plywood, Laced suede hinges and recycled Bicycle inner tube rubber. These bamboo cases don’t sell well but they do get a lot of attention when I show people face to face. The bamboo cases are cheaper than my leather and suede cases but people who see the bamboo in person feel that the bamboo would be worth more… IDK…

Here is my most recent FlipSteady design for the iPad Pro. This also has recycled rubber components. I love how strong and flexible the rubber is. Tip# if you give a Bicycle mechanic beer he will collect rubber for you… :slight_smile: The good stuff…

My production has come a long way… I have been streamlining my process to keep CAD files organized, developing several new production methods, I have been constantly experimenting with new materials and even took on an employee to teach. My new Employee’s name is Lauren and she is fantastic. She runs around the studio hanging her art on the walls and cleaning up after my experiments… I love having someone around… :slight_smile: