A Peek Inside Apple Durability Testing Labs

Apple is well-known for its secrecy, which is understandable given the high stakes in the high-end mobile phone industry. It’s interesting to get a glimpse inside its durability labs and see the equipment and processes it uses to support its IP68 ingress claims, determine drop ability, and perform accelerated wear and tear testing.

Check out these cool custom-built machines on display! They verify designs against a sliding scale of water ingress tests. At the bottom end is IPx4 for a light shower, but basically no pressure. Next up is IPx5, which covers low-pressure ambient-temperature spray jets from all angles – we really liked this machine! Finally, the top-end IPx7 and IPx8 are tested with a literal fire hose blast and a dip in a static pressure tank, simulating a significant depth of water. An Epson robot arm with a custom gripper is programmed to perform a spinning drop onto a hard surface in a repeatable manner. The drop surface is swapped out for each run – anything from a wooden sheet to a slab of asphalt can be tried. High-speed cameras record the motion in enough detail to resolve the vibrations of the titanium shell upon impact!

Accelerated wear and tear testing is carried out using a shake table, which can be adjusted to match the specific frequencies of a car engine or a subway train. Additionally, there’s an interview with the head of Apple’s hardware division discussing the tradeoffs between repairability and durability. He makes some good points that suggest if modern phones are more reliable and have fewer failures, then durability can be prioritized in the design, as long as the battery can still be replaced.

The repairability debate has been raging strong for many years now. Here’s our guide to the responsible use of new technology.

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An Umbrella Can Teach A Thing Or Two About Product Longevity

This time of year always brings a few gems from outside Hackaday’s usual circle, as students attending industrial design colleges release their final year projects, The worlds of art and engineering sit very close together at times, and theirs is a discipline which sits firmly astride that line. This is amply demonstrated by the work of [Charlie Humble-Thomas], who has taken an everyday object, the umbrella, and used it to pose the question: How long should objects last?

He explores the topic by making three different umbrellas, none of which we are guessing resemble those you could buy. The first is not particularly durable but is completely recyclable, the second is designed entirely with repairability in mind, while the third is hugely over-engineered and designed for durability. In each case the reader is intended to think about the impact of the umbrella before them.

What strikes us is how much better designed each one is than the typical cheap umbrella on sale today, with the polypropylene recyclable one being flimsy by design, but with a simplicity missing from its commercial counterpart. The durable one meanwhile is full of CNC parts, and carbon fiber.

If you’re hungry for more student work in this vein, we recently brought you this toasty typewriter.