Simple, Clever Tools Ease Teardown and Test

The recent introduction of the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus spurred a flurry of teardowns (such as this one in EE Times ) to reveal what’s in those smart phones, how they are internally configured, and how much their BOMs (bills of materials) cost. While those teardowns are certainly interesting, what really caught my attention was the special tool used to open those clamshell-like cases easily and without damage by the editors at another site, iFixit, in their teardown here. My interest in teardowns is often not so much about what’s in a unit, the BOM details, or the cost, but how it was assembled, if and how it can be taken apart, and if this can be done nondestructively thus allowing for re-assembly. To each his own, as they say.

The tool is called the iSclack and you can buy it for around $25—a real bargain, especially if you have ever struggled to pop open those cases or those of similar devices, such as remote controls or cordless phones. Although it is sometimes possible to wedge a thin screwdriver blade or even an X-acto knife into the seam between the case halves, this invariably results in nicks, scratches, and unsightly and uncomfortable disfigurement of the smooth, slick case edges. Even more frustrating, the knife/blade technique often doesn’t work, so you have inflicted the pain on the case without any gain.

The iSclack's suction cups can pull cases apart without leaving the scars you might get from a screwdriver or X-acto knife.

The iSclack's suction cups can pull cases apart without leaving the scars you might get from a screwdriver or X-acto knife.

One of the things you learn in a design pre-production and even a production setting — not just making “apps” — is that tools, jigs, and fixtures are very important to a successful and efficient production and final test cycle. I learned this when I was involved with putting new products into pilot production. The PC boards had large components such as transformers that weren't reel-supplied pick-and-place devices. Instead, they had to be hand-placed on each board (that was not a speed issue because the production-unit volume was fairly low). It was, however, important to place them correctly the first time so their leads would not be bent and then have to be straightened, which might lead to microfractures and eventual failure in the field as normal vibration in use aggravated the tiny cracks.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EETimes.

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