If you are a repair technician, you have faced the decision of "Do I start this iPad repair next or just jump on another device first?" and typically if given the choice, a repair technician will always choose to start repairing another device first as the iPad repair is a dreaded one. Similar to many technology products, iPads are not designed to be repaired easily but these are particularly challenging. The debate on whether this is an intentional design decision from the manufacturers is an interesting one but nonetheless, those in the repair community will never turn away a good challenge. Today we want to share some insight from knowledge gained in repairing thousands of iPads in our own repair stores.
A major reason this is a tedious repair is because the screens are not fastened on, they are sealed down with a strong adhesive. To properly remove them it will require heat. We have used heat guns (hair dryer for some DIYers), dehydrators (yes the food ones) and about a year ago started seeing the heating pads come out. These are made overseas in China and there are black ones, orange ones and a new generation blue heating pad that we have found particularly helpful for creating a nice soft, even heat across the front of an iPad to allow for easier removal of the existing screen. If the digitizer screen is already broken it may be more difficult or easier depending on your technique and how you look at it. In order to access any of the internal components, the digitizer screen removal is required so if it is already broken or if this is the repair you are looking to perform you won't need to be as careful. At the same time if it is severely broken this can create many pieces of glass that need to be removed carefully. Each iPad model has different areas such as the wifi flex on the bottom right and the power button flex on the top right on the iPad 2/3/4 that you will need to be aware of to ensure these are not damaged during the removal.
Since this adhesive sealed screen is the root of many of the challenges with the iPad repair, you can probably guess what the biggest challenge of the iPad repair is as well... Getting the screen to stay sealed down after repair. This can be caused from a variety of issues and we will tackle the most common ones below.
Digitizer screen not sealing due to bent corners or frame:
When an iPad is dropped, the relatively soft aluminum frame is often bent. It is very important on an iPad (and any other device with a metal frame including iPhones) to get the frame back to its original position to allow the new screen to sit in the frame as flat and natural as possible. If a corner or edge of the frame is even slightly out of place, the digitizer will not lay perfectly flat and it will come back up quite easily. In our experience corner tools such as the G-tool or Pliers only work for corners and due to the fact that they pinch the metal it is not all that safe or effective. They often cause sharp edges and can even cause a corner to bent out too far or break off completely. Changing out tips and heads also cause a slow down in this process. This was how we invented the prime frame cradle which makes a bent corner or frame a safe, simple and fast part of the repair. So far, we have yet to hear of an actual user who prefers any other tool that has tried the prime frame cradle for this part of the repair.
Digitizer screen not sealing due to inadequate adhesive or clamping process:
If your digitizers are coming with adhesive pre installed, you most likely need to find a different supplier as these adhesives are not adequate in most cases. In our experience using Tesa brand black tape or red tape and laying it down on the iPad frame in all the same places where the original adhesive was is the best route. It is also very important that the frame is cleaned very well with some type of cleaning solvent such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol before laying the new adhesive. Some recommend using a primer such as 3M 94 Primer also to prepare the surface for new adhesive. After your adhesive is laid down and digitizer is carefully put back into place, we recommend lightly heating the adhesive to make it malleable and then clamping for a period of time of at least 30 minutes while the adhesive cools. We previously used spring clamps but these do not cover the full surface and pinpoint too much pressure in one spot which can also cause damage. This is how the prime clamping vise was born to help ensure a safe, even clamping pressure for the proper sealing of any screen.
Here are few other common problems and tips when completing an iPad repair:
- If plastic bezel is damaged or scarred during removal, just replace the bezel - they are very inexpensive and makes the repair job look much more finished and professional
- Always test touch by grabbing an icon and dragging across all areas of screen before sealing up. Bad parts are always frustrating but especially if entire repair needs to be redone on an iPad
- Try to avoid touching the LCD at all costs, cleaning fingerprints or other marks off LCD is very time consuming and every mark or speck of material shows up (Hint: Use a prime air system to blow right before placing digitizer back down for dust)
- Any marks on LCD screen can be cleaned quite well with a useful tool.. your warm breath and a clean cloth... try it (just brush your teeth first)!
- Tape digitizer cable to frame same as it comes originally using any adhesive and a spudger to place it correctly. This is Repair Rule #1 - put it back the same way it came in if at all possible!
Hope some of these tips are helpful, check back for more repair blog articles each month!