I think you need to investigate alternative materials. For example, HPL plastic or other laminates. HPL plastic perfectly imitates not only wood texture and color, but also other materials concrete, stone, metal, matte surfaces. In addition, it has excellent strength characteristics, moisture resistance and heat resistance.
Thank you for taking the time to write up those helpful suggestions.
Regarding the front panel: While HPL would indeed be a valid alternative for all those reasons, we would instead prefer an all-aluminum construction if the wood panel is no longer an option. Firstly because we would like to make the case as sustainable as we can, i.e. avoiding plastic wherever possible, but also because we prefer materials that are true.
Maybe you should consider the option of separate panels as exterior shell? I would not want you to abandon the project. I don't see obstacles that could not be overcome. Yes, structurally, the case can change as a result, but I think you can succeed in the aesthetic part without much loss.
We have looked into separate panels, but haven't found a solution that looks as refined and minimalistic as the original concept, especially regarding the fastening solutions we have access to.
This is not to say that it's impossible to solve, just that the options at our disposal have not yielded a result that we believe would capture the same excitement as the original concept, which would make the funding part considerably more likely to fail.
On top of that comes the financial aspect. This is, sadly, still a bit of a niche market and low volume production means that there's a pretty hefty manufacturing cost per case. Now, we were being realistic going into this project, knowing that this market, small batch production, and high cost to produce wouldn't make this an easy endeavor. But after getting some price quotes for our design, it currently does not look like it could sustain itself. Originally, we would have tried to make this work anyway as it was a passion project. However, the worldwide pandemic has put a huge financial strain on us that was completely unforeseen. Without going into too much detail, we are simply no longer in a position to take on an endeavor that's quite as risky as this. We don't know what the future holds, so we don't want to call this off with 100% certainty just yet. But we also don't want to mislead anyone into thinking this case is still on track.
We apologize for this bit of disappointing news, but we want to be upfront with everyone.