The Case For Making A Great Case

HPRC2700-face-300pxIn my past life I schlepped equipment all around North America in the process of giving demonstrations. As the most senior field staff it also fell to me to oversee the acquisition of shipping cases for our demo inventory.

Back then the nature of the gear, and the cost of shipping, drove me to select lightweight cases with layered foam inserts. This accommodated the 3-5 RU server chassis. A 2” thick protective layer of foam on all sides provided adequate protection without undue weight or cost.

Some months ago I was again tasked with creating a shipping case for some gear. This time the gear involved was not a server rack, but a small suite of telecom & network devices for demo use. Since this suite of gear was much smaller & lighter than a server I decided to research if/how I might get a nice custom case manufactured. Everyone involved in the project was delighted with the result, so I though I’d share my experience with the vendor and their process.

After much Googling I settled upon My Case Builder of Patterson NJ. This company has a fantastic selection of cases of all sorts, and can turn around a custom order in under ten days. By a “custom order” I mean a case selected from their inventory fitted with a custom cut foam interior to protect its precious cargo.

In selecting a case I took a careful inventory of the items that I needed to include, noting the dimensions of each device. I settled upon the HPRC 2700, a waterproof case manufactured in Italy. Yes, Italy!

HPRC-2700-open-600px

The cost of the case alone was $131. A careful shopper, I compared to Amazon where the same case was offered for $136. HPRC RE2700EOLIV 2700 Hard Case Without Foam (Olive) So, on the case alone they seemed competitive. The cost with a fully custom foam interior was just $277, which seemed like quite a bargain compared to my past efforts.

The real fun began when I used their online design tool to create the layout for the cutting of the foam interior. Now I go all the way back to Autocad 2.6 running on DOS, and I have some exposure to 3D animation tools, but wasn’t prepared for just how much fun it would be to work up the cutting design of this foam.

MyCaseBuilder-2D-Layout

It really was fun. Moreover, it was a productive use of time. In just a few hours I was able to try several layouts. I kept revising the design until I had everything fit into place with optimal protection from abuse. I also paid attention to making it easy for non-technical people to identify which device fit into each opening.

When the 2D layout looked as good as I could make it, the design tool, a web application, rendered a 3D view of the design that I could manipulate in real-time.

MyCaseBuilder-3D-Layout

 

This 3D rendering I could screen shot and send to the rest of the team for approval before I placed the order.

We did order the case, which arrived in 10 days as promised. Upon it’s arrival I was impressed by everything about it. It was light, tough, and unexpectedly attractive. Better yet, everything fit perfectly!

Kit-in-box

From the red plastic trim to water-jet cut custom foam interior, it looks like a carefully considered item. It’s the kind of shipping case that makes a field engineer look like a professional when embarking upon a demonstration.

If you ever need this sort of thing you should try My Case Builder.