We recently announced a full CNC version of the Top Cover alongside the 12th Gen Intel Core upgrades for the Framework Laptop. This week, we also launched a new Hinge Kit variant on the Marketplace with 4.0kg force, higher than the default Hinge Kit with 3.3kg force. Since lid rigidity and hinge behavior is sometimes a source of confusion, we wanted to provide more background on it!
On the original Top Cover in the Framework Laptop, we used an aluminum forming process to shape the lid from a sheet of aluminum, followed by milling steps and adhering in a plastic inner frame and steel mounting plates. With the new 12th Gen Intel Core version of the Framework Laptop, we’ve built a Top Cover that is milled from a single block of 6063 aluminum, eliminating the plastic frame and steel mounts and increasing overall rigidity. Functionally and visually, the original Top Cover and the new Top Cover (CNC) are equivalent. They both look the same from the outside and pass the same rigorous reliability tests. However, the stiffer Top Cover (CNC) subjectively certainly feels more premium. If you have a Framework Laptop with the original Top Cover, you can choose to switch to the Top Cover (CNC) by picking one up from the Marketplace in July (you can sign up to get notified when it is in stock).
We tuned the hinge force in the Framework Laptop to enable one-hand-opening of the lid while also keeping the lid angle stable while the laptop is stationary across the full 180 degree opening range. With that, the hinges have a nominal force of 3.3kg with a tolerance range of +/- 0.5kg. However, we identified that for a period of time last fall, our hinge supplier shipped a subset of hinges with forces below our accepted spec range. We’ve since added additional tests both at the hinge supplier and at our laptop assembly site to prevent out of spec hinges from shipping out. If you have a laptop where the lid angle drops on its own while the laptop is stationary, write into support with a video of it, and we’ll send you a new Hinge Kit.
While 3.3kg keeps the lid stable while stationary, if you are in an especially bouncy environment like a moving vehicle or holding the laptop open while walking, it’s possible you will want higher force to hold the lid angle. To solve for that, we’ve built a higher torque version of the Hinge Kit coming in at 4.0kg with +/- 0.5kg tolerance range. This holds the lid angle well in bouncier environments, but with the tradeoff of making one-hand-open not work as seamlessly. If that sounds good to you, you can pick up a 4.0kg Hinge Kit in the Marketplace today. The power of modularity!
Note that both the new Top Cover (CNC) and 4.0kg Hinge Kit are largely independent of the behavior of lid resonance. Resonance (what some people may call wobble or shake, but we don’t because those are too ambiguous) is that when you tap the lid when it’s open, it’ll bounce for a second before settling, without the lid angle changing. This is a function of the hinge structure acting as a spring (in the sense of linear elasticity). We use a high strength steel alloy for the hinge structure, but the size and weight of the lid are still enough for the steel to elastically deform and bounce back. This is also not really a functional issue since the display isn’t a touchscreen, but it’s not behavior we’re satisfied with. Our engineering team is working with multiple hinge suppliers currently to design for reduced resonance. We’ll make any results from this available in the Marketplace along with rolling it into future laptop production. The beauty of upgradeable products is enabling existing users to pick up improvements as we make them!