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This is an instructable on how to create a design for a 3D printed phone case using the Autodesk 3D design interface.

--------------------------Before You Begin---------------------------

Materials Needed:

  • digital or dial calipers (or other acceptable accurate measuring device)
  • computer with Autodesk 123D Design installed
  • Phone to design case for
  • Notepad, paper, or some other medium to write down dimensions for phone
  • Access to a 3D printer
  • Spray Paint (if coloring of finished product is desired)
  • Knife or Putty Knife (for post-processing of 3D print)
  • Pliers (for post-processing of 3D print)
  • File (for post-processing of 3D print)
  • Knowledge of how to use the 123D Design Software

Notes:

  • The photos of the finished product are from an initial design that was slightly different than the design shown in the modeling portion of the instructable
  • You can use the same basic process of this design to create your own design for a phone case.
    • (this design was developed for a rhetorical design project for an introductory English course at Purdue University)
  • BEFORE YOU PRINT YOUR DESIGN: Make sure you highlight your entire design and select "merge" from the top toolbar
    • I did not specify this in the video tutorial, but it is necessary to ensure that your entire model is one piece. If you don't do this, it may print wrong.

Step 1: Get Measurements

ote: While taking these photos, I accidentally pressed the zero button on my calipers, so the measurements in the photos may not be accurate. The photos are mainly as a reference as to how to get the necessary dimensions.

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Measurements Needed:

  • Overall Height
  • Overall Width
  • Narrowest width (if different than overall width)
    • When in the modeling phase, ensure that the overhang of your lip to hold the phone in (width - 3) is wider than half the distance between the overall width and the narrowest width)
  • Distance to top and bottom of each button or button group
    • In photo 4, you can see that I have placed the top of the phone on a flat surface and am using the inner dimension side of the calipers to get an accurate dimension of the location
    • If you have trouble getting this measurement accurately, just exaggerate the size of the hole you make for the button to ensure space is made for the button.
  • Distance from the edge of the phone to the home button(s) and from the edge to the edge of the camera
    • When in the modeling phase, ensure that the overhang of your lip to hold the phone in (width - 3) is less than these dimensions

  • Distance to the charge port and the headphone jack
    • It is best to measure these the same as the side button dimensions, but you can also just exaggerate these dimensions as with the button location dimensions
  • Radius of Corner
    • (yes I know that this is with an iPhone, but I didn't have the phone with me that I originally designed the case for and forgot to take a picture of this measurement)
    • measure this dimension from about where the curve starts to flatten out
    • To get the radius used in modeling, divide this measurement by √(2)
      (see explanation below)
    • In the photo example (iPhone 5) the radius would be 8.9 mm
  • Overall Thickness of Phone (no image)
    • measure the thickness of the phone

Step 2: Modeling

View the Tutorial Video:

Don't have that much time? Try the time-lapse version:

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Note:Times indicated are when the segment starts in the full length tutorial video.

Also note that the photos are not very helpful since I couldn't embed them, so just reference the video times.

  1. Making the basic shape of the case. (0:10)
    1. Draw a rectangle that has the same dimensions as the overall height and width of your phone.
    2. After drawing your base, filet the corners to match the radius of the corners on your phone.
  2. Making the edges and openings (2:20)
    1. Use the offset feature to offset the drawing by 3mm
    2. Raise the edges of your basic rectangle
    3. Next fill in what will be the back of the case
    4. Offset the outer edge of the front by - 6mm and extrude 3mm to make lip to hold phone in case
    5. After forming the basic edge, using the measurements that you took previously, remove the space where you would find the camera and speaker.(5:22)
    6. After that, move to the sides of the case. Use the same process you used when making the openings on the side. (Note: Precision is key in this area).(9:28)
    7. When finished making the spaces, filet all squared edges on the case. This will make it cleaner.
  3. Rendering the back design(15:10)
    1. Begin by drawing a line resembling a circuit vertically from the top of the case to the bottom.
    2. Select the first line and paste it 9 times to create 4 separate circuit links.
    3. When finished create a square in the upper right corner of the case to resemble a chip.
    4. Using the same process as before, create circuit links going into the chip.
    5. When finished with this process, raise the pattern and chip to sit above the base.
    6. When all this is finished, use the text tab to type CTRL into the design.(17:40)
      • (note, there is a typo in the video as it says CTL instead of CTRL)
    7. When finished, raise the text as well.
    8. Next, to create the shackle and chain, draw a rectangle and two flat ovals.(20:45)
    9. Make the rectangle sit lower in the case, making an indent or slot.
    10. Then, to create the raised link, draw a rectangle that connects the two oval links.
    11. Raise the rectangle and filet the edges, making it appear round like a link.
    12. Filet the edges of the two ovals as well.
    13. In order to create the shackle loop, start a new design page(24:50)
    14. Draw a circle
    15. Draw a rectangle and fuse the circle to the rectangle.
    16. Raise the whole piece; this will sit in the rectangular indent you made earlier.

Step 3: Troubleshooting

Problem: Can't extrude a sketch.

Most likely Solutions:

  • Did you draw all of your lines in the same sketch? If not, redraw them all in the same sketch.
  • Do your lines all connect? You only can extrude closed shapes.

Problem: Can't fillet an edge. Says "invalid operation" or similar error message

Most likely Solution:

  • You probably picked a radius that is impossible as some point on your selected edge. Try a smaller radius if possible.
  • If changing the radius didn't work, try un-checking the "Tangent Chain" check-box. This will make only the specific edge you click be filleted

Problem: My print came out warped

Most likely Solution:

  • If your print is not totally messed up, try heating the plastic carefully with a lighter and bending it to the proper shape.
  • This probably happened because:
    • your printer is not calibrated
    • your printing with ABS and you don't have a properly heated table
    • your printing table was not clean so the print did not stick properly
  • If your print turned out really bad, just reprint it. 3D printing does not always go smoothly
Very interesting and cool design. A work of art for sure. industrial :D
cool man I need to do this with my sg alpha
Samsung Galaxy alpha

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