Pliant (now SanDisk)


Revolutionary enterprise server SSD device sold to SanDisk for $327M

The Challenge

Develop an enclosure for a next-generation sold state drive (SSD) that would alleviate thermal issues and distinguish Pliant brand.

The Solution

Develop several design concepts using both actual and virtual thermal modeling to determine the optimal design solution.


Tough Design Challenges

Integration of heat sensitive electronics in an ultra-compact shape that maintains precise flexing characteristics.


Rapid turnaround

Rapid design, build and test of bench model prototypes to determine optimal form factor for heat dissipation.


Manufacturing strategy

Development of a manufacturing strategy that would produce high production yields to match Pliant’s growth opportunity.


Quality and Reliability

High quality of production devices built trust around the Pliant Technology brand leading to the acquisition by SanDisk.




Upon closing on the development of their revolutionary enterprise level SSD technology the Pliant team ran into issues with heat dissipation design.

Pliant was referred to Design 1st to solve the tough technical challenge while maintaining the existing electronics form factor. The first step was developing several enclosure model concepts.

"Space constrained enclosure design"
"Virtual 3D thermal and air flow simulations"


After design direction was chosen a virtual 3D CAD model was created for thermal and air flow simulation. This process involved the simulation of several concepts to determine the optimal solution based on heat dissipation, usability, cost and manufacturing process.

The result was a refined design ready for SLA prototyping.



Using both virtual and SLA rapid prototypes, Design 1st confirmed the function and design of the new enclosure met all technical requirements. The next stage was the creation of a fully functional pre-production unit to jump start the selling process.

This included the creation of packaging, virtual rendering models and manufacturing strategy.

"Built a fully functional pre-production unit"
"Optimize production process for ease of assembly"


Minimum component count and ease of assembly of the cast metal enclosure were critical to high volume assembly strategy. The design was passed by Pliant’s existing cast suppliers who welcomed the ease of assembly.

The manufacturing strategy lead to strong reinforcement of Pliant’s brand

"We highly valued Design 1st as our product development partner. Their design and engineering expertise was exactly what we needed to be successful "
- Mike Chenery, Founder and President, Pliant Technology

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