Introduction: How to Make a Carbon Fiber Phone Case

Picture of How to Make a Carbon Fiber Phone Case

Objective:

A carbon fiber phone case is desirable because it has both high strength and is lightweight as well. By the end of this Instructable, you should be able to make your very own phone case out of a carbon fiber and epoxy composite. Even though this may sound difficult, following these steps will make it easy for any average joe to be able to protect their phone with a handmade phone case.

Hazards:

There are several hazards that you must pay attention so goggles should be worn at all times and the appropriate gloves according to the glove chart must be worn when working with epoxy. Epoxy can cause skin irritation if it comes in contact with it. Also you should wear old clothes when working with epoxy because once epoxy gets on your clothes, it won't ever come out. Carbon fiber can also cause skin irritation as well. There are also mechanical hazards using tools to cut the carbon fiber composite.

Step 1: Step 1: Prepare the Materials

Plaster Phone Mold:

  • Phone case
  • Plaster Powder
  • 16 oz plastic cup
  • 3 oz paper cups
  • Saran wrap
  • Gloves
  • Glad ("Press n' Seal")
  • Wooden craft stick

Carbon Fiber Phone Case:

  • Phone case plaster mold
  • Carbon fiber sheet
  • Fiberglass epoxy
  • Foam paint brush
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Vacuum bag with nozzle attached
  • Vacuum pump with hose
  • Roll of adhesive strips
  • Wax paper
  • Roll of masking tape
  • 3 oz paper cup
  • 16 oz plastic cup
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Saran Wrap
  • Dremel Tool

Step 2: Step 2: Prepare Workspace

Picture of Step 2: Prepare Workspace

  1. Cut off an appropriate amount of Saran Wrap to cover your workspace.
  2. Tape Down the edges using masking tape.
  3. This is to ensure a much easier clean up.

Step 3: Step 3: Clean Phone Case

Picture of Step 3: Clean Phone Case
  1. Clean your phone case with soap and water.
  2. Dry the phone case after clean with paper towels.
  3. Make sure it is completely dry before continuing.

Step 4: Step 4: Pour Plaster Into Phone Case

Picture of Step 4: Pour Plaster Into Phone Case

  1. First cut out a strip of Glad Press n' Seal that is a couple inches longer and wider than your phone case.
  2. Press this wrap into the inside of your phone case as flatly as possible and try to prevent any wrinkles or bubbles in the wrap. This probably won't be perfect, but just keep in mind that each wrinkle in the wrap will also be on your phone mold as well. Use a wooden craft stick to flatten creases in which your fingers aren't able to.
  3. Make the plaster according to the instructions on the container. (2 parts plaster powder to 1 part water by volume)
  4. Use the 3 oz paper cups to measure out each part and then combine in the 16 oz plastic cup.
  5. Use a wooden craft stick to mix the plaster together until smooth. The plaster should have the consistency of pancake batter.
  6. Slowly pour the plaster into the phone case.
  7. Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 5: Step 5: Remove Phone Mold

Picture of Step 5: Remove Phone Mold

  1. Carefully remove the phone mold from the phone case.
  2. Use a wooden craft stick to smooth any rough parts of the mold.
  3. The final mold should be smooth on all edges and sides.

Step 6: Step 6:

Picture of Step 6:
  1. Cut out a piece of wax paper that is an inch longer and wider than your phone mold.
  2. Cover the mold with the wax paper on the front side of the phone mold and use tape to secure the wax paper. The tape won't stick to the plaster so you have to tape the wax paper together. This can be seen the photo above.
  3. Next cut out a piece of carbon fiber in the same dimensions as the wax paper. Place masking tape on each of the 4 sides of the carbon fiber. Make sure when cutting none of the fibers unravel because this will weaken the carbon fiber.
  4. Wrap the carbon fiber around the phone model as smoothly as possible (the corner and sides can be cut a little to make this easier). When wrapping the carbon fiber make sure not to leave a hole in the middle of the case. This will make it easier when you need to remove the mold.
  5. Then tape the carbon fiber onto the phone model; however, make sure not to tape the edges or any part of the phone case that won't be cut away in the end. The epoxy will make the tape stick to the carbon fiber and then you'll have tape on your phone case and nobody wants that.

Step 7: Type 7: Apply Epoxy to Phone Case

Picture of Type 7: Apply Epoxy to Phone Case

  1. Mix hardener and resin according to manufacturer's instructions to make epoxy.
  2. Use foam paint brush to apply epoxy to phone case.
  3. Dab the phone case with epoxy until the epoxy is impregnated into the carbon fiber.
  4. You can place the phone case onto a cup as seen in the picture above so that it is easier to get the edges.
  5. Then you can leave it on the cup to let it dry. Different kinds of epoxy dry at different rates.

Step 8: Step 8: Preparing the Vacuum and Vacuum Bag

Picture of Step 8: Preparing the Vacuum and Vacuum Bag

  1. Place vacuum bag on a flat surface.
  2. Cut the sides of the bag.
  3. Seal one side of the bag with adhesive tape.
  4. Cut a small hole in the middle for the nozzle.
  5. Place the phone case in the bag with the tape side facing down.
  6. Seal the open side of the bag with adhesive tape. Let about 1/2 inch of the tape hang of the sides of the bag. Take that overhang of tape to tape the top of the bag. This is to ensure that the bag is sealed properly and that there are no holes to break the vacuum seal.

Step 9: Step 9: Vacuum Seal the Phone Case

Picture of Step 9: Vacuum Seal the Phone Case
  1. Attach the hose to the nozzle.
  2. Make sure to tape the vacuum hose down to make sure that it does not move and detach from the nozzle.
  3. Turn on the vacuum and make sure there are no leaks. Usually you can hear if there is a hole.
  4. Make sure to flatten out any air bubbles that form above the phone case.
  5. Leave the vacuum on for two hours.
  6. Turn off vacuum.

Step 10: Step 10: Remove Plaster Mold From Phone Case

Picture of Step 10: Remove Plaster Mold From Phone Case
  1. Take the phone case out of the vacuum bag.
  2. Carefully remove whatever tape you can from the case.
  3. If the hole in your phone case is not large enough to easily remove the mold, then you can take the Dremel tool to cut some of the carbon fiber off to make the hole larger. Make sure to cut less rather than more so you don't ruin your phone case. Be careful when using the dremel tool because the blade is spinning very fast. Also you might want to wear a mask because when the dremel tool cuts into the plaster dust flies everywhere.
  4. Use a hammer and screwdriver to break the plaster mold.
  5. Scape out all the broken pieces of the mold.
  6. Once the plaster mold is removed, then scrape out the wax paper as well. Wetting the wax paper with water is an effective way to make it easier to remove.

Step 11: Step 11: Trim the Edges

Picture of Step 11: Trim the Edges
  1. Use the Dremel tool with the cutting edge to cut the edges to the appropriate size.
  2. Change the Dremel head to the round rod to make any holes you want in phone like for the camera.

Step 12: Step 12: Buffer and Apply Final Coat

Picture of Step 12: Buffer and Apply Final Coat

  1. Using the buffering head on the Dremel, buffer any dried epoxy on the phone case.
  2. Next apply a final coat of epoxy to get a nice glossy finish on the phone case.
  3. Wait 24 hours for it to dry.
  4. Now you should have a new carbon fiber phone case!

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