Mar 15, 2016 | By Alec

It’s almost becoming an annual tradition for Apple geeks. Whenever a press event is announced by Apple and some product hints are dropped, the blogosphere explodes with speculation. The same is happening ahead of Apple’s March 21st event, where a new phone and iPad are expected. Apple, however, are usually very careful about what is and isn’t leaked ahead of time, to let excitement pick up enough steam. This time around, however, 3D printing technology offers an alternative for impatient fans. Keaton Keller from TechSmart bloggers have reverse engineered the upcoming 9.7 inch iPad Pro through 3D printing, based on a leaked case – showing several features that can be expected.

But first of all, this is what is known and expected. Accompanied by the slogan ‘Let us loop you in’, an Apple event is scheduled on March 21st. Widely expected are a new four inch iPhone SE (you could almost call it a budget option) and a new 9.7 inch iPad. Although Apple is reportedly working hard on the branding of the smartphone, Forbes has suggested that the iPad is the real challenge for this new release. As Ewan Spence argued, the tablet market never reached a turnover level that comes close to that of iPhones, with sales dropping last year.

The challenge is thus in getting the mixture of branding and technology just right to entice people to go for an upgrade. And to find out what that is, Keaton Keller of TechSmart turned to 3D printing. Getting his hands on a leaked case, he used it to reverse engineer a 3D printed iPad replica that fits perfectly in the new case – something which reveals a lot about what new features are attached to the tablet’s exterior.

As you can see in the clip below, the 3D printed iPad revealed that the speakers are given a lot more prominence – something learnt from the additional speaker cut outs on the top and bottom of the tablet. This matches the features of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, suggesting that the audio components of that tablet have been moved to this new release. And with four speakers, the audio output is obviously improved.

What’s more, a smart connector can be found on the long edge (as a cut-out reveals), suggesting the use add-ons, such as keyboards, to make a physical connection – instead of a BlueTooth one. A smart keyboard can definitely be expected from Apple, it seems. What’s more, another cutout can be found under the camera – suggesting that an LED flash will be featured too, suggesting that they are definitely not giving up on the awkward tablet photography, but are rather enhancing it. A headphone jack cut-out is also still present.

On the whole, this interesting 3D printed iPad shows that the tablet will look similar to its predecessors but – as was expected – incorporates several features from the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. It’s all just speculation, of course, and Apple geeks will have to wait for 21 March to learn more – though Forbes’ Ewan Spence was soundly convinced. Most importantly, it shows that 3D printing is a perfect option for reverse engineering.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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