Introduction: How to Make a Carbon Fiber IPhone Case
Carbon fiber composite is a very high strength material for how light weight it is. These properties make Carbon fiber a desirable material for an iPhone case application. It will barely add any additional weight to your iPhone and it will reliably protect it from any type of incident. The only complication with a Carbon Fiber composite is its complexity in manufacturing it. My 'Instructable' will make fabricating this composite a breeze with clear detailed steps and real-life photos.
Step 1: Step 1: Materials Needed
Make sure you have easy access to all the below materials before you start the next step.
1. Roll of Saran Wrap
2. Plain iPhone 6 case
3. (5) Flat wooden craft sticks
4. (4) 3 oz. Dixie Paper Cups
5. Nitrile gloves
6. (2) 16 oz. Plastic Solo Cup
7. Glad ("Press n' Seal")
8. Wrap Plaster Powder
10. Fiberglass Epoxy (Resin and Hardener) (photo above)
11. Foam paint brush
12. Vacuum bag with port
13. Vacuum pump with hose attachment
13. Roll of Tacky tape (adhesive strips)
14. Wax paper
15. Roll of Masking tape
16. Carbon fiber sheet
18. Screw Driver
19. Dremel tool (photo above)
Step 2: CAUTION
Epoxy resin and hardener are harmful, flammable, and toxic. Contact with the skin can cause irritation and itchiness. Special care should be taken to prevent any contact of the Epoxy on any parts of the skin. Make sure to always have Nitrile gloves and glasses on during this whole 'Instructable'.
Step 3: Cover Workspace With Saran Wrap
Take the piece of Saran wrap and cover your entire workspace. Tape down each corner with masking tape to secure saran wrap on surface of work space.
Step 4: Clean IPhone Case
Gently rinse empty iPhone case with running water to remove all of the built-up dust and dirt that could be there. Thoroughly dry the phone case using paper towels. If you still see water particles left that are hard to remove: let iPhone case dry on paper towel for approximately 20 minutes.
Step 5: Apply Glad Press N' Peel Wrap on IPhone Case
- Cut out a piece of Glad wrap that is an inch longer and wider than your iPhone case.
- Apply Glad wrap on inside part of iPhone case while keeping the wrap flat (no wrinkles)
- Note: It is important to precisely have Glad wrap tightly fitted against the inside shape of the iPhone case in all areas because this will determine the shape of the phone case mold that you produce and you want the phone case mold to match the iPhone's shape as best as possible to in result have an iPhone case that best fits your iPhone.
- Note: Use a flat wooden craft stick to push Glad wrap against iPhone case in small areas if just your fingers are not working well.
Step 6: Mix Plaster Powder and Water to Make IPhone Mold
- Measure out 2 oz. of plaster and 1 oz. of water in 2 seperate 3 oz. paper Dixie cups
- Combine plaster and water in plastic Solo cup
- Thoroughly stir with wooden craft stick until consistency is like yogurt (thick with flow).
Step 7: Pour Mixed Plaster in IPhone Case
- Pour mixed plaster in iPhone case over Glad wrap
- Gently pick up and drop iPhone case to allow plaster to settle in iPhone case completely
- Let plaster sit in iPhone case for at least 24 hours
Step 8: Remove Dry Plaster Mold From Phone Case
Carefully remove dry plaster mold from cell phone case.
Step 9: Shave Down Your Plaster Mold
In order to achieve a smooth even surface on each side of your iPhone mold, it is essential to use a flat wooden craft stick to eliminate the uneven bumps on the mold. Your finished mold should have even smooth surfaces on each side.
Step 10: Cut Out a Piece of Wax Paper
Use regular scissors to cut out a piece of wax paper that is an inch longer and wider than your plaster mold so that the wax paper can easily wrap around the sides of the mold.
Step 11: Cut Out a Piece of Carbon Fiber
1. Place cut out piece of wax paper on top of laid out carbon fiber from the roll. Insert masking tape along each of the 4 sides of the wax paper. Note: Make sure the middle of the tape is along side the wax paper piece.
2. Using carbon fiber scissors, carefully cut along the middle of the tape for each side. Note: Make sure when cutting that none of the fibers unravel from in between the tape- this can impair the mechanical performance of the carbon fiber composite material.
Step 12: Attach Carbon Fiber and Wax Paper to IPhone Plaster Mold
1. Lay down carbon fiber having the side with no masking tape facing up.
2. Place the wax paper sheet over the carbon fiber sheet.
3. Place the mold on top of both sheets in the center with the bottom side facing down.
4. Place tape on of top the Carbon fiber and wax paper at a diagonal from the one corner of the mold to the corner of the carbon fiber sheet. Do this for each of the four corners.
5. Using carbon fiber scissors, cut along the middle of each of the 4 taped spots. This is to easily be able to fold over corners and achieve just as tight of a wrap around the corners as the rest of the sides.
6. Wrap the wax paper and carbon fiber around the sides of the plaster mold.
7. Secure the carbon fiber piece on the mold by taping both ends together. Note: Do not allow tape to touch any part of the carbon fiber. The tape can only touch the original tape or the plaster mold.
8. For the corners, fold the bottom and top part of the carbon fiber piece.
Step 13: Apply Layer of Epoxy on Carbon Fiber
1. Mix epoxy resin and hardener according to manufacturer's instructions.
2. Using foam brush, apply a thick even layer of epoxy to the carbon fiber on all sides of case except for the top.
Step 14: Prepare Vacuum and Vacuum Bag
1. Put the vacuum bag flat down on an even surface.
2. Place the carbon fiber iPhone cover configuration in the bag. Note: Make sure the carbon fiber case has the side with the tape facing down and the flat carbon fiber side facing up.
3. Cut the sides of the bag so that it is not too big.
3. Put the port for the vacuum in the middle of the bag and poke a hole through so the port can reach outside the bag.
4. Seal the vacuum bag closed by inserting tacky tape on one layer of the bag near the end. Make sure the tacky tape is tightly adhering to the bag.
5.Leave about 1/2 inch curl of the tacky tape to properly secure the edges of the bag and firmly press down along the edges and the ends of the bag to make sure the entire vacuum bag is sealed
6. Press the top side of the bag down on the tacky tape to ensure a tight seal and that there are no holes to break the vacuum seal.
Step 15: Attach Vacuum Hose to Port
Attach vacuum hose to vacuum port by pushing hose opening onto part of port that is sticking out of the vacuum bag.
Step 16: Secure Vacuum Hose by Taping It Down
Since the vacuum hose is usually stiff and thick in will not stay attached to the vacuum port. In order to keep the vacuum hose from moving and detaching from the port, it is essential to tape the vacuum hose to the above table or wall depending on how your workspace is laid out.
Step 17: Turn on Vacuum
1. Make sure hose is also attached to vacuum.
2. Turn on vacuum.
3. Make sure there are no holes in tacky tape where air can get out (usually you can hear the air escaping and locate where the hole is). Note: If there are leaks/holes, press down harder on tacky tape and plastic bag to seal the hole.
4. Rub and massage the top of your iPhone case on top of the vacuum bag to make sure there is an even seal between iPhone case and vacuum bag.
5. Let vacuum run for 2 hours.
6. Turn off vacuum.
Step 18: Remove Plaster Mold and Wax Paper
1. Remove your iPhone case configuration from inside the vacuum bag.
2. Carefully remove the tape from the carbon fiber.
3. Use a hammer and screwdriver to break up the plaster mold so that it can easily be removed from carbon fiber case.
4. Scrape out every piece of broken up mold.
5. Once all the pieces of mold are removed, attempt to remove all of the wax paper.
Step 19: Dremel Excess Carbon Fiber Off
Once the wax paper is removed, use a Dremel to cut off the excess carbon fiber that is on the top of the phone case. Note: It should end up in the shape of the iPhone case that you used for this 'Instructable.' Also use Dremel to drill holes into the case so that charger port, camera, and other buttons can be accessed through the case.
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