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Laptop Covers: Skins, Furs and Foams

Mar 6, 2008
The accessory trend for electronics has really been a niche market for many retailers as well as designers and artists alike. In particular, laptop covers of all sorts of shapes and sizes have entered the market with astoundingly unique colors, shapes and functions. This will be a brief on some of the different materials that are being used as a medium for the industry.

Soft covers for laptops have been especially popular. They provide a more tactile feeling and of course will not crack, break or shatter like PET plastic or bulky like a traditional padded case. There are two main types of soft protection: neoprene and memory foam.

Neoprene Covers

Neoprene is a trade name for a material manufactured by DuPont laboratories. Its central chemical make up was discovered by Professor Julius A. Nieuwland at the University of Notre Dame. DuPont bought the patent rights to his research and their scientists refined it to make the Neoprene material we know today.

Nieuwland experimented with synthetic rubber by taking divinyl acetylene, which becomes gummy-like after being passed over sulfur dicholoride. The outcome was a material that DuPont expounded upon and combined monovinyl acetylene and hydrogen chloride gas to make chloroprene. From Chloroprene came duprene, which is the scientific name for Neoprene.

Traditionally used for equipment such as wetsuits, the computer manufacturing industry also uses the material to make everything from protective cases to the laptop sleeves. The pliable rubber is easily constructed so it can be sewn into many sizes of pockets, cases and sleeves. The medium is easy to silk screen images to, making a stylish sleeve cover with your company logo for example.

Memory Foam Coverage

Memory foam was initially going to be used by NASA to cushion astronauts during heavy-G liftoffs. It was never really adopted for that use, but instead found usefulness in other industries such as in healthcare. For example, it was implemented into hospitals beds which prevented bed sores by cushioning mattresses and allowing proper blood flow in patients' bodies.

Memory foam has the unique property of becoming more pliable and spongy as it warms up, and more resistant when cold, hence the allure the mattress manufacturers had for it. This property makes it comfortable sitting on a lap as well as a great piece of protection for delicate electronic devices.

These properties also make it ideal for blunt trauma to laptops as well. The greater overall density makes it more protective, although it will usually outweigh a neoprene version. A $1,500 MacBook can be saved with a simple $40 custom-fit memory foam MacBook sleeve dropping onto the linoleum.

Other Mediums Less about Resilience and More about Style

Skins are covering more laptops these days with a variety of colors and design styles. Although they do provide a bit of scratch coverage, they are mostly used for looks and design aesthetics. Usually made of vinyl, the material is made in such a way that it can be removed and often reapplied. Art images can be captured and implanted into the transparent vinyl.

There is other material used for actual sleeve covering that is being used for designs like corduroy and jean material -- denims and woven cotton patterns. Synthetic furs are not uncommon too. Cover designs are almost only limited to the artist's imagination.

Gaudy day-glow fur colors, similar to some fuzzy toilet seat covers, are offered for the more daring A-type personalities. The future holds many new takes on how individual you can make your laptop. Function and impression seem to be on a merging course.
About the Author
Art Gib writes for Isis Dei (http://www.isisdei.com/list.php) who sells their own unique designer MacBook sleeves and other synthetic rubber laptop covers. Isis Dei produces new products and designs in laptop protection every month.
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