Minimal Surface Area,
With a passion for helping users transport anything they care about safely, easily, and in style, Thule is known for products ranging from roof-mounted bike carriers to camera slings. They've now turned their attention to helping their active clientele protect their MacBook Pros — and look great to boot. As a brand that assists and augments the products of other brands, Thule has a keen awareness and appreciation of the design of those products.
Already a popular protective choice for tablets and smartphones, a minimal bumper is capable of protecting the edges where a device is most likely to make contact if dropped. The bumper was poised to be the perfect solution for the needs of the project — conveying rugged strength while forming a literal frame to showcase Apple's brand — after a little bit of engineering ingenuity. In order to protect the size and weight of the laptop, the soft core of the Vectors was engineered with a series of concentric, impact-dampening ridges that improve shock absorption. An optional clear shield snaps into the frame to protect the most common causes of marring of a laptop's flat surfaces: scratches, scuffs, and spills.
Maintaining the aesthetics of the MacBook Pro was a key consideration. Thule wanted a case to protect yet complement the styling details and iconic surface finish of the computer — not conceal them.
Corresponding with Thule and their vendors was key to seeing our design through to production, and the opportunity to work with Thule's motivated team was really a highlight of the project. We didn't just get the chance to make a great product, but a new relationship with an exciting brand. TEAMS Industrial Designer Ross Brinkman
Reworking the Design
But taking the design into production posed some unique challenges for the project. "Apple products are produced with such fine tolerances that it's difficult to manufacture at the same level that they do," said TEAMS Industrial Designer Ross Brinkman. Originally, the concept called for the Vectros to be produced in two parts: the hard outer shell and the soft inner core. But when production capabilities were jeopardizing the success of this execution, the design was reworked to take advantage of co-molding.
Instead of adhering two separately molded parts, one material was injection-molded directly on to the other. Our internal team, the designers at Thule, and the experts at the production facility all worked closely to pull off the changes needed to bring the ideal to fruition.