Introduction: Apple Charging Dock

Picture of Apple Charging Dock

Need a stylish dock for all your Apple things? This project is for you. It's a 3D printed rapid charging station for your iPhone 7, AirPods, and Apple Watch. The soft inserts for each product are press-fit so they can be changed out to fit a new version of each product if need be.

Step 1: Tools + Materials

3D Printer

  • 3D Printer
    • I use a Creality CR-10. It's the best bang for your buck, in my opinion.
    • Use this coupon code at Gearbest to get it for $339: 1111CR10
    • You'll need to modify the CR-10 to use the polyflex PLA (or any soft material). Here's a youtube video on how to do that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ0h3_vNpno
  • 3D Print Filament
    • I used Matte Fiber HTPLA from Proto-pasta for this project, but pretty much any filament will work. I like this stuff because the finish looks really good.
    • I used Polymaker Polyflex for the rubber feet. This stuff is good for this application because it creates more friction on a desk top to keep the sign from sliding around.

Parts

  • M3 Screws: $13 for 260 pc.: You could use any screws and nuts around this size, but I find these work well for small 3D printed mechanical projects.
  • 100 Point Chipboard: $1.50 / sheet: This is used for the three panels and the sign panel. You can cut it with a straight edge and a hobby knife.
  • USB Multi Tap: $45: This is a 4 port, 3 amp rapid charger made by Hardened Power Systems in Tennessee. I've tested it and it's more than 50% faster than the 5 amp Apple charger at charging my phone. At $45, it's hard to beat the price, and I always buy from small local guys whenever I can.
  • Powerpole Cable: $9: This is how you connect the Multi Tap to the DC terminal. If you have a crimper you can just crimp your own wires with powerpole connectors.
  • 12V 7A AC /DC Adaptor: $14: Any 12V adaptor will do, but you'll want one that's got a high amperage output to take full advantage of the multi-tap. Technically you'd need 12A to get top performance out of the multi tap (3 amps X 4 ports), but it seems really unlikely to me that the watch and the EarPods would pull 3 amps.
  • Lightening Cables (2): $8 ea.: Any generic cable will probably do, this one works with the files I designed.
  • Apple Watch Cable: $28: It's important that you use this model or one that's the same size, bigger ones won't fit.
  • USB Extension Cable: $5: I added this as an extra USB charging output
  • 5.5mm x 2.1mm DC Jack Connector: $7: This connects the powepole cable to the AC adaptor.

Software

Fusion 360 is free and it's awesome. I use it for everything I design and fabricate.

Student / Educator License (renew free every 3 years)

Hobbyist / Startup (renew free yearly)

Step 2: Design and Files

The STL files are 3d-printable files ready for a slicer. I use Simplify 3D because I like the UI but Cura is free and I see a lot of good results with that program.

The PDF file is an 8.5 X 11 printable layout for the chip board panels. You can print these out and use them as templates to cut out the ship board pieces with an exacto knife.

The F3D file is a Fusion design archive that you can upload and edit as you like.

Step 3: Assemble 3D Printed Parts

Picture of Assemble 3D Printed Parts

With all the parts printed the assembly is pretty easy. All you have to do is use some glue in the cavities where the parts meet as shown. I used Gorilla Glue gel but just about any CA glue or E6000 would work for this.

Step 4: Attach the Panels

Picture of Attach the Panels

Once the 3D printed parts were assembled I used more Gorilla Glue Gel to stick the panels to the cavities. I had a hard time getting the support material to properly hold up the semi circular trim on the front of the phone cavity. Instead of printing a new part (lots of time and material) I just designed a little snap-on trim as shown in the pictures. It looks fine and does the job.

Step 5: Cables and Sleeves

Picture of Cables and Sleeves

All the sleeves are made of flexible PLA. This makes it easy for the products to fit snugly. The charging cables fit in the cavities as shown so that the male end sticks up out of the bottom. I tested it and they fit perfectly. The phone sleeve is just right but the AirPods sleeve is a bit snug. I might offset the inner wall by about .5mm total so it's a little easier to take out.

Step 6: Cables and Electronics

Picture of Cables and Electronics

This part is really simple too. I wound the cables so they'd fit in the cavity in the upper part of the dock, using zip ties to keep them wound tight. The USB extension and DC terminal fit perfectly in the holes, and I used hot glue to stick them to the surface of the dock as shown. The power pole connectors are color coded and their ends go into the screw terminals on the DC terminal. Remember, black is negative, red is positive.

I used some sticky-back velcro on the multi-tap and the underside of the bottom panel to keep the multi-tap in place. It took a minute to get the cables situated so they wouldn't pinch or twist (we don't want anything shorting out), but everything fit just fine.

The holes in the bottom of the dock are sized slightly smaller than the screw threads so that the M3 screws basically tap into the holes. If you have an M3 tap you might get a cleaner fit than just screwing them in, but this worked fine for me.

Step 7: Flexible Feet

Picture of Flexible Feet

I also made some feet out of flexible PLA to make some friction on the desktop. I didn't factor in tolerance for the interfaces on the feet so there's a little gap I'm not crazy about, but It's not very noticeable.

Step 8: Ready to Charge

Picture of Ready to Charge

All things considered, I'm really happy with this project. It works like a charm, looks good, and tidies up my desk considerably.

If I were to make it again I might make some kind of modular insert for the tray on the back- maybe a cradle for an iPad charger or something like that.

Did you make your own? Show us what you got!

Comments

doctorjerry (author)2017-12-07

Nice looking design. I'm new to Fusion 360 and 3D printing. I like that you include the f3d file so that I can get an idea of how you went about actually creating the project, but I found that the file will not load in Fusion. Could it be corrupted? Also, some hints on how you printed it (orientation, supports) would be helpful.

JON-A-TRON (author)doctorjerry2017-12-07

Thanks! To get it into Fusion you have to "upload" it. Open the Data Panel (grid on the upper left corner), double-click on a project, then click the "upload" button. That will bring the file in. Everything in Fusion is on the cloud which is why you have to upload it instead of just opening it natively.

In terms of orientation, I printed everything basically upright, if you get my meaning. That seems to be the best way to get a good result. Have a look at the screenshots:

doctorjerry (author)JON-A-TRON2017-12-14

Got it uploaded. A very big file and it took a little longer than I expected before it fully loaded and I could look around. I'm relatively new to Fusion 360 and am especially impressed with your organization of what is quite a complex project. I saw you use patch, multiple angled planes and other techniques which give me ideas to further explore. I do believe that a very helpful "Fusion 360 Instructables" course or perhaps a Youtube video could be made just on the design of this Dock. I look forward to more of your work.

JON-A-TRON (author)doctorjerry2017-12-14

Yeah, the file size has to do with the apple product models- they're very complicated.

There are a few classes on Instructables that use fusion. I made three 3D printing classes, a CNC class, and a Laser Cutting class all focusing on it. There's also 3D design class that's a good crash course in Fusion.

I've got a YouTube channel with a bunch of tutorials as well. You can search my name there- I'll be the 3D design guy, not the Bigfoot hunter with the same name.

KellenM2 (author)2017-12-08

This is so awesome!! One question/suggestion, instead of using the back (or front or whatever is used to hold the wallet and keys) could you use a usb splitter and jack in another lighting cable and run it to the base of the back so you could add an iPad charging dock as well? You would have to increase the adapters amperage but like you said I doubt the watch and airpods draw the full 3A. Let me know what you think. Very nifty design tho!

JON-A-TRON (author)KellenM22017-12-10

Yeah, for sure. I was thinking a good edit would be to make the trough at the back a snap-on insert, that way you could change it out for an iPad charger like you said. It would be a fairly easy thing to do in Fusion, are you familiar with the program at all?

KellenM2 (author)JON-A-TRON2017-12-10

I am not at all, but it looks like a fairly easy program to use and navigate. I haven’t gotten around to picking up a 3D printer yet, its on my list, but I really like what you have created here and the edits look fairly easy to pull off. Thanks for getting back to me and let me know if you ever get around to altering this project to include an iPad, I would really be interested to see that design!

dmk1 (author)2017-12-07

Excellent project! The only thing I'll do different is to cover the carton color pieces with carbon fiber sticker/foil.

JON-A-TRON (author)dmk12017-12-07

That could be really cool. You could also paint them- Montana makes some really awesome colors.

dmk1 (author)JON-A-TRON2017-12-08

A quick Photoshop edit, just to see how it can look like :)

JON-A-TRON (author)dmk12017-12-08

Yeah, something like that could be cool. You could always just 3D print the panels in whatever color you like- that way you could add a texture if you wanted to. Nice photoshop work, by the way.

Jacks how2s (author)2017-12-07

wow clearly a lot of effort have gone into this! I love the idea of being able to charge all of your devices at once!

JON-A-TRON (author)Jacks how2s2017-12-07

Thanks man! Yeah, I've had a lot of practice. My desk is so serene now...

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Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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