Teardown on Tour

As fixers, we pride ourselves on teaching consumers how to make their tech last as long as possible. But recently, we had the chance to do something a little different. Two of us teardown engineers headed to MD&M West in Anaheim, the “World’s Largest Annual Medtech Event,” to talk about manufacturing with real-life manufacturers.

Teardown presentation at MD&M
That handsome devil on stage is iFixit’s Scott Havard, the best damn teardown engineer there is … except for me. I’m down there at the bottom of the photo, elbow deep in an iPad Pro. Actually working.

While iFixit does a lot of work reverse engineering consumer devices, the folks at MD&M West are at the other end of the spectrum: they’re responsible for device conception. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to talk about what makes those designs repairable—and how to design for sustainability, rather than design for the dump.

For us, there’s no better way to talk about design than to disassemble something. So we broke out a few devices, including the iPad Pro, and spread their innards on a table for all to see.

Teardown at MD&M
Teardown bonanza!

Some devices we tear down are easy to get apart, but tablets tend to have a lot more glue than screws—which can make disassembly a bit … well, sticky. And since tablets rely on depletable batteries, excessive adhesive can seriously limit the lifespan of your device. As we tore down the iPad Pro, we chatted about some of the device’s hardware features, including what design choices make the iPad Pro and other tablets, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (which got a 2/10 on our repairability scale), more difficult to fix.

We could retell the whole teardowns all over again, but instead we’ll leave you with this sweet infographic. Kingman Ink was nice enough to keep pace with us and draw this awesome tl;dr (BTW, we know the repairability scores on the infographic are incorrect—that’s our bad. Correct scores are on our Tablet Repairability Chart):

Kingman Ink infographic of the teardown

By the way, if you’d like to take a gander at a tablet that aced our teardown table, check out my assessment of the HP Elite x2, which earned a 10/10 for repairable design.