[Co-founder Interview] The Product Revolution of RHINOSHIELD and the Birth of Recycled Phone Cases

When it comes to RHINOSHIELD, what's the first image that comes to mind? Is it a phone falling from a height, or a phone case being struck with various tools? After years of nurturing, RHINOSHIELD has become synonymous with impact protective phone cases in Taiwan. However, few people know that what truly keeps RHINOSHIELD standing firm is not just the manufacture of phone cases but rather "material technology."

As a leader in the impact protective accessory market, RHINOSHIELD has been continuously researching material technology for many years, from the initial impact-resistant screen protectors to the market's first modular phone case MOD NX, and further to the pursuit of the ultimate transparent Clear phone case. Behind each product breakthrough hides various exclusive material technologies of RHINOSHIELD and the relentless efforts of the laboratory and R&D personnel day and night.

In addition to pursuing breakthroughs in product utility, RHINOSHIELD has been searching for materials that truly achieve environmental sustainability while also ensuring top-notch protection for products. Since 2017, after overcoming numerous difficulties, RHINOSHIELD has successfully applied the "single material" technology to its entire range of phone cases, breaking through the limitations of the recycling efficiency of phone cases and the quality of new product remanufacturing.

In March 2024, RHINOSHIELD launched the first fully recycled CircularNext phone case made from 100% recycled materials from old phone cases, truly achieving sustainable zero-waste recycling by turning old phone cases back into raw materials and then remanufacturing them into brand new phone cases.

This type of recycling may sound simple, but to truly realize this technology, smashing and remanufacturing various-colored and differently conditioned old phone cases while simultaneously considering aesthetics, durability, and robustness is actually extremely challenging. What kind of culture and corporate spirit does RHINOSHIELD embrace to overcome these challenges and achieve various breakthroughs? This article will interview RHINOSHIELD's co-founder and Vice President of Product Development and Supply Chain Management, Ray Wang, to introduce us to RHINOSHIELD's exclusive "material technology" and unwavering "spirit of evolution."

The product revolution of RHINOSHIELD

When discussing the history and development of RHINOSHIELD's products, Ray's eyes reveal a passion but also a hint of nostalgia. This hint of nostalgia comes from the various "boss levels" encountered in the past, which were not set by others but by RHINOSHIELD itself.

As for why such high standards are set? Ray quotes baseball player Shohei Ohtani, who once said to his teammates in the World Baseball Classic, "Let's stop admiring! Admiring idols alone cannot surpass them." Similarly, as an expert in Taiwan's material technology field, RHINOSHIELD believes: "One day, we will no longer idolize others or admire foreign technologies. We ourselves will be the idols."

However, RHINOSHIELD's high standards for surpassing regulations have also made Ray and the product development team suffer over the past decade, and the hardships of experimentation have also cost them many partners.

Insistence on non-toxic and pollution-free

Accessories such as phone cases are items that modern people come into contact with daily, whether adults, children, or even infants. Therefore, RHINOSHIELD has always insisted on producing products according to the US FDA food-grade container standards, ensuring they are free from chemicals commonly found in bisphenol A/S/F plastics, so that all RHINOSHIELD users can stay away from the harm of plasticizers and environmental hormones.

You might think, "But it's just a protective case, it's not for eating, is it necessary to achieve a food-grade standard?" In fact, plasticizers can enter the human body through the skin and respiratory system. When it comes to food containers, everyone will eagerly shout, "We must pay attention to the problem of plasticizers!" But why is no one concerned about phone cases and other accessories that are in contact for more time daily than food containers? Is it just because there are no regulations? Since there are no regulations, RHINOSHIELD establishes its own standards!

However, meeting RHINOSHIELD's self-established high standards is actually very difficult. The material of the protective case should be hard and durable, but in the world of materials, the harder and more durable the material, the more plasticizers it contains, such as the PC material commonly used in phone cases on the market.

In order to find materials that are both durable and flexible, while also being completely non-toxic, free of plasticizers and pollution, Ray and the product development team have shown the spirit of experimentation, undergoing numerous tests, before finally finding a solution and successfully producing products that meet the FDA food-grade container standards, free of bisphenol A/S/F.

And to produce such products, not only RHINOSHIELD itself but also partners such as suppliers and factories must work together. There have been experiences where batches of products had to be written off directly due to the residual plasticizers during the production of RHINOSHIELD products caused by the use of materials containing plasticizers in the production of other products in the factory. This is RHINOSHIELD's insistence on non-toxic materials, not even a bit!

How picky is RHINOSHIELD about materials? Ray bluntly said, "Continuously retesting is not the most difficult part. The most difficult part is convincing everyone to start over with you."

Pioneering single material technology

After solving the plasticizer problem, another boss level is single material. In order for phone cases to truly enter the recycling system without being treated as garbage due to the inability to separate the materials, RHINOSHIELD has been insisting on using single material to make phone cases since 2017.

"It's not difficult to make a phone case, but it's very difficult to make a phone case with just one material."

In order to satisfy all the characteristics needed for phone cases with a single material, including sturdiness, durability, and flexibility, as well as the ability to produce various colors, Ray and the product development team have held onto the spirit of experimentation, conducting continuous tests before finally finding the material solution. But finding a solution for a single material is one thing; applying it to all RHINOSHIELD phone case product lines is another big boss level.

How difficult is it to make a transparent case?

For example, making RHINOSHIELD's iconic product, the "never yellowing" Clear transparent phone case using a single material, has posed continuous challenges for the product development team. Why is it difficult to make a transparent phone case? Because any oil stains, black spots, patterns, pores during the production process, friction during processing and transportation, and even dust in the air will all be clearly visible on the transparent case. To eliminate all possible "traces" during production, every step of producing transparent products must be handled with extreme care. Moreover, achieving the ultimate high-definition clarity is not enough; RHINOSHIELD's transparent case also needs to be "permanently anti-yellowing" to solve the problem of transparent phone cases on the market turning yellow after a short time, requiring replacement.


To achieve all the above requirements, Ray led the product development team through years of effort, scrapping over 20 sets of molds, trying out over 30 different material formulations, and spending tens of millions of dollars, before finally creating a perfect flawless, extremely transparent, sturdy, drop-resistant, and permanently non-yellowing transparent phone case using a single material. This breakthrough not only solidified RHINOSHIELD's position as an innovator in the accessory market but also set a new standard for transparency and durability in phone case manufacturing.



However, the challenges didn't end there. While single-material technology addressed the issue of recyclability, RHINOSHIELD faced another obstacle: achieving the circular economy model. The circular economy aims to eliminate waste and continuously reuse resources in a closed-loop system. For RHINOSHIELD, this meant not only creating products from recycled materials but also ensuring that these products could be recycled again at the end of their lifecycle.


Birth of CircularNext Recycled Phone Case

After overcoming numerous challenges, in March 2024, RHINOSHIELD officially launched the CircularNext recycled phone case, turning its efforts and experiments in material technology into tangible results. CircularNext utilizes recycled single-material phone cases as raw materials, reutilizing them to create durable, robust, non-toxic, and pollution-free phone cases with unique designs.


Why Create Recyclable Phone Cases?

In line with current trends, many phone cases on the market are made of composite materials. While these materials facilitate complex design processes, their difficulty in effective separation renders them unable to enter recycling systems, often treated as waste rather than recycled, let alone recycled again. Recognizing the substantial annual usage of phone cases worldwide, RHINOSHIELD's co-founders began pondering from the outset, "Could RHINOSHIELD leverage its material technology expertise to lead this industry and cease harming the planet?"


To realize the dream of protecting the Earth through material technology, merely producing phone cases using a single material wasn't enough. The next step was to achieve 100% material recycling, truly realizing zero-waste circulation. Facing this challenge, Ray and the product development team initially hypothesized that the TPE material used for RHINOSHIELD phone cases could not only be recycled but also reused multiple times. However, this theory required experimental validation.


Yet, the journey to prove the feasibility of this theory was a three-year endeavor for Ray and the team.


"Can RHINOSHIELD do what others cannot? CircularNext is the best proof."


Countless experiments: What others cannot do, RHINOSHIELD can!


To ensure that RHINOSHIELD phone cases could revert to raw materials for recycling while maintaining the same, if not enhanced, strength and durability, Ray led the product development team on a multi-year journey of infinite recycling experiments.


He stated, "The cost of each experiment yielding an answer is nearly a million, along with the relentless effort and dedication of the R&D team." The perseverance that drives him and the team to continue trying, adjusting variables, investing time, and sacrificing costs, even in the face of failed experiments, embodies RHINOSHIELD's material testing spirit because the team always believes, "Material constraints can certainly be overcome through material technology." This is the unique determination and confidence that sets RHINOSHIELD apart from other companies.


RHINOSHIELD Recycled Phone Case

After years of effort, Ray Wang led the product development team to find a way to recycle single materials, and RHINOSHIELD officially launched the CircularNext recycled phone case in March 2024.


Pursuit of trouble: sturdy, durable, aesthetically pleasing, and sustainable circulation

"Eco-friendly materials? Those things break quickly!" The general public's understanding of eco-friendly materials is that they lack durability and need replacement quickly. In response, Ray believes, "It's entirely understandable for consumers to misunderstand eco-friendly materials because there's very complex material technology behind them, and indeed, the quality of eco-friendly material products on the market varies. But RHINOSHIELD's eco-friendly materials are the result of powerful material technology expertise, absolutely different."


To break the framework of "choosing eco-friendly materials means sacrificing durability," RHINOSHIELD designed all product manufacturing steps to the highest standards, investing heavily only to establish a new industry standard. Furthermore, they hope to shatter the public's stereotypical impression of eco-friendly materials, allowing consumers who want to choose eco-friendly materials and care about the environment not to sacrifice practicality and durability.


Will such high self-requirements be difficult to achieve? Will partners cooperate? Ray chuckled and said, "We're a bit of an anomaly! While all companies in the industry are focused on making money and surviving, we're thinking about how to save the Earth through material technology." When no one has done something, and there are no standards, RHINOSHIELD sets the highest standards for itself; when everyone thinks it's foolish and is unwilling to do it together, RHINOSHIELD builds its own laboratories and recycling plants, only to achieve the dream of 100% recycled phone cases.


Moreover, this recycled phone case not only is sturdy and durable but also can be recycled multiple times. Even the most widely recycled PET bottles can only be recycled twice, but RHINOSHIELD's recycled phone case can be recycled six times and still maintain the same durability, while also offering unique gradient color schemes.


RHINOSHIELD Purple Eco-friendly Material Phone Case


Made from recycled old phone case materials, RHINOSHIELD's recycled phone case is just as sturdy and shock-resistant, breaking the stereotype of eco-friendly materials being less durable.


RHINOSHIELD Gradient Color Eco-friendly Material Phone Case


RHINOSHIELD also utilizes the diverse color characteristics of recycled phone cases to create unique gradient color schemes.


How do you define a good phone case? RHINOSHIELD will define it in the future.

The protective accessories market is thriving, offering consumers a plethora of choices, from military-grade shockproof to fashionable products. However, is cheap and good-looking really enough to meet consumers' needs and safety?


Just as RHINOSHIELD has always adhered to the principle of being non-toxic and free of bisphenol A, even in the absence of regulations, it should be considered for users first. This stems from RHINOSHIELD's material technology expertise and the self-requirements as product manufacturers.


Similarly, perhaps non-toxic, pollution-free, single-material, and sustainable circulation are not the most critical concerns for you now. Still, future you will definitely care, as will every resident, for the Earth to have a future. And in this market of protective accessories, RHINOSHIELD has already provided solutions that meet such high standards.


Not only in Taiwan but also worldwide, few enterprises can achieve 100% recycled phone cases through material technology research. With the introduction of CircularNext, RHINOSHIELD has proven Taiwan's excellence in material technology and has made a name for itself in Europe and the United States. In the future, RHINOSHIELD will continue to strive to become the new industry standard, and one day, Taiwan and RHINOSHIELD will be idols of the world.


"To make the Earth better, RHINOSHIELD will always strive in the field of material technology." --- Ray Wang, Co-founder of RHINOSHIELD