Let’s sit down and enjoy a journey to the packaging factory where Spectrum’s monitor box will be assembled!
New to the project?
Welcome! We summarized Project: Spectrum’s critical milestones; hope it helps to quickly onboard you with our crowd-development journey.
Many of you are keen on doing as little harm to our environment as possible have and asked us to move away from the Styrofoam packaging that we initially considered. The main benefit cardboard packaging offers over such plastic material is its much lower environmental impact. While plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose when disposed of in a landfill, cardboard only takes about two months under the right circumstances. Additionally, the cardboard used by our factory contains 80% recyclable material and is made from a sustainable source. We also considered expanded polyethylene (EPE) for its exceptional anti-vibration capability before settling on the more environmental-friendly cardboard. Our current goal is to design and drop test the box to ensure it can safeguard Spectrum against impact while eliminating all but the most needed plastic parts.
Cardboard assembly is the process of making plain cardboard into boxes. It is commonly used for manufacturing cardboard packaging for a wide range of products. The process involves applying paint, die-cutting flat cardboard to the required size and shape, and folding it into a box. A cardboard box packs a product and ensures it can be transported to its customer well-protected. Our Spectrum monitor box has dedicated sections for holding the power brick and manual in addition to containing the monitor itself. The footage in this update was recorded earlier this week when our project manager @Kira visited our packaging factory.
Our packaging factory specializes in the design and assembly of all varieties of cardboard boxes, cardboard structure, EPE boxes, and other kinds of large packaging. The assembly begins with offset printing. Suitably sized flat cardboard is shipped into warehouses and loaded onto the assembly lines. A conveyor takes the cardboard into the printing machine where cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) paint is applied before the painted parts move on to the die-cutting process. The print machine’s size scales with the cardboard’s size, usually having a width of about four to five times that of the cardboard’s length. Each machine has blowers placed at the exit to dry the paint; the larger the machine, the more blowers it has. Offset printing is known for producing high-quality images while having low emissions and cost at high unit quantities.
Offset printing machine, blowers, and printed cardboard
Next, another machine accurately die-cuts the painted cardboard into the desired size and shape, with all the flaps and grips in just the right place. The tooling is made of a wooden board with knives attached blade-up. These blades are covered by plastic foam to prevent accidents or injury; when pressure is applied when cutting, the foam compresses to reveal the blade. Semi-automatic die-cutting is an alternative that uses the same tooling as the machine, except here an operator manually places the painted cardboard on a flat metal plate that has guidelines attached. The plate then closes against a second one that is mounted vertically. After a second the machine opens and rotates back so that the operator can remove the cut cardboard and all the cut waste by hand. This manual procedure is speedier to set up than the die-cutting machine and does not require as much tuning, which makes it very suitable for small-volume packaging runs. Due to the sheer volume required, our Spectrum package will be machine-cut.
Cardboard warehouse, wooden tooling, and finished boxes of various brands
Depending on the box design, the cardboard may or may not require stapling and pre-folding after the previous processes. Semi-auto stapling is done on a relatively small machine that requires an operator to feed the cardboard manually. A nearly fully-automatic assembly line has machines purely to take on every single part that needs to be pre-folded. The fluidity of such a machine makes me gasp at its beauty even after re-watching it multiple times.
Automatic pre-folding machine; Spectrum box will not require this process
Here comes the end of the assembly lines, where cardboard is folded manually into boxes. Any inner structure will be folded separately, and adhesives are applied if required to strengthen the boxes’ rigidity. Full boxes are created and go through the QC process, which checks the print’s clarity and position as well as the boxes’ dimension. Robust boxes are now ready to host their products.
Operators folding Nike, Alienware, and Dell boxes
Factory tour in action
We are glad to announce that our latest printed circuit board (PCB) development samples passed electrostatic discharge (ESD) and capacitor life tests. We have adjusted short-lived components from previous tests, with good results. Spectrum was tested with 100W charging, max brightness, and all ports on high load. It was able to sustain these extreme conditions for over 48 hours without any of its components failing. It is mostly Spectrum’s flagship specs and many community-requested features that require us to test and improve multiple times before we can give all components a pass. Spectrum also made a sizable step up in PCB thermals when compared to our preliminary test results. We will continue to analyze the reports to improve Spectrum’s every aspect and schedule further testing as we do so.
left: thermal test and capacitor life test; right: enclosure and all ports tested in ESD
We also played some titles on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch following our Xbox One S and PC compatibility test. Initially, our sample did not post when hooked up to a PlayStation 4. After troubleshooting, we were able to get it running smoothly in both 1080p and 4K at 60Hz. We plan to test Spectrum’s compatibility with a broader range of PCs, consoles, laptops, smartphones, and USB devices shortly.
The OSD implemented in these samples is based on the chip manufacturer’s defaults and is still pretty far away from its final look and functionality. We will release more OSD details later in a dedicated topic.
We will soon have more up-to-date content to share with you. Stay tuned, and talk soon!