Last June, the Xbox Series S Carbon Black was announced at a price of 350 euros, a black model with a 1 TB SSD, compared to only 512 GB for the white model. Today, Chris Kujawski, principal designer at Microsoft, provides some details on the difficulties encountered with this machine.
A new color, but no design change
It was in fact during an interview conducted by MobileSyrup that Chris Kujawski, spoke of the need to offer this entry-level console in a format allowing more games to be stored on the SSD, without needing to modify the design of the Xbox Series S.
Modern games exceed 100 GB, which can quickly fill up your drive. We wanted fans to not worry about anything other than playing […] moving to a terabyte of storage on the Series S was a really natural and logical thing to do
To mark the occasion, it was necessary to give a “new twist” to this model. The team therefore thought of offering a black color, thus reflecting “performance” and a “slightly more serious” side.
Black tends to perform a little better; he gives the impression of being a little more serious.
Imperfections left by plastic injection
This new model had more design issues than the original Xbox Series S, due to the tendency of black plastic to show more imperfections.
We actually had just about every type of cosmetic problem you might encounter with a plastic part.
However, one might naturally think that the team simply used the experience gained from the design of the Xbox Series The designers had in fact taken measures at the time, knowing that the console would be black, which is not the case for the Xbox Series S released in 2020.
MobileSyrup explains how Microsoft manages to hide the plastic defects of the Xbox Series X.
To make the console’s outer shell, Microsoft uses injection molding, which involves heating the plastic to a higher temperature and injecting it into a mold to create the shape. The place where the plastic enters the mold is called the “gate,” and it often leaves behind marks like discolorations or odd spots. The designers made the entry point of the Series for the button.
For the Xbox Series S, the door is at the top of the console, invisible in white, but very visible in black. The team did not want to change the design of the console, but simply the color, so could not modify the tools, otherwise the production cost would have been too high.
Visible weld lines
The issue of plastic injection was not the only problem Chris Kujawski encountered. She also had to deal with weld lines that looked like tiny cracks on some parts that came out shiny instead of dull, due to the shape of the mold and the way the plastic was cooled.
Ultimately, the team achieved a good result by adjusting numerous parameters, including the temperature of the plastic and the tool, and the time a part spends in the tool.
This very easy project, which simply consisted of making things black, therefore went wrong from the start. This required more engineering work and cost more money than usual or than we had originally anticipated. But there was no negative reaction, no complaints about it. There was an understanding that we had to do things right.
On top of that, the designers initially thought it was necessary to blacken only 3 parts, but ultimately, no less than 13 parts were reworked to match the new color. We must not forget the small parts, such as the rubber feet or the product label on the back.
Chris Kujawski concluded with a sentence that summed up the project quite well.
I think this is the simplest and most complicated project I’ve worked on.