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How to create your own custom 3D Printed iPhone Case

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Please check out my Shapeways shop where you can buy iPhone cases such as this one and others such as the TriStand - iPhone case with 3 in 1 built in flip out Kickstands for 3d printing by Shapeways (3d printing service).

An iPhone case says a lot about a person, that is why there are so many on sale, one to match every type of personality, but what if there isn't one that matches you, either that or you just want a challenge, or just want to show off your amazingly cool iPhone case that you designed and is 3D printed to your mates, well READ ON...

The versatility of 3d printing is incredible and this instructable is going to show you how you can design your own customised 3D printed iPhone 4/4s case step by step  simply and easily in less than 20 minutes.
This was something I struggled to do when I first decided to design an iPhone case, so I am sharing this knowledge with you to spare you the trouble and without the need of vast knowledge of designing programs.
The iPhone case you design can then be 3d printed by a company such as Shapeways (a 3d printing service) for about £20/$30 including shipping to the USA (excluding taxes) however a little bit more for shipping to other countries.
I also recently discovered 123D's Fabrication service (click on the 'Fabricate' tab), I am unsure if they are cheaper than Shapeways who provide the same service and I have no past experience with them.

This instructable is suitable for all levels of experience with CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs.


So far, using the method in this Instructable, I have successfully designed and manufactured 2 iphone cases:

Here is my newest 3d printed iphone case which has an integrated 3 in 1 flip out stand which I have called the TriStand, this design really stretched the limits of 3d printing as it contained hinges with pins of only 1mm in diameter, however it worked flawlessly. For more information about this design or to get this design 3d printed from Shapeways in a choice of colours, look Here!
 

This is my example for this instructable which I have printed and tested which is available from Shapeways, which i will personalise with your name and choice of colour Available Here or the version with moving cogs Available Here.
Here is a High Resolution Picture of the case.
"Simplicity, is the aim of this case, the back has been ripped off revealing that the iPhone is being powered by nothing more than simple clockwork, a great match for a device which is so simple to use."


Now... to make your own:

You will need some CAD software, some are available for free such as Google Sketchup which I recommend for those of you with little or no experience with CAD.
I used Autodesk Inventor for this tutorial.
 
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danniwu4 months ago

I want this kind of phone cover, where can i buy it?

Hi!
Recently, I worked on an iPhone case and created a fun case for a friend. It came out excellent. My only complaint is about the material. I used a 3D Printing service to print my case. (Shapeways) However, after printing, I was not completely satisfied with the material. It was not as flexible as I had hoped, and turned an ugly gray after sitting in my friends pocket for two days. Can you give me advice as to which material I should use?

Thanks a lot for the free model!
-Brendan
RMK-Jacob1 year ago
Awesome! Great Job! If you could please upload templates for the new iPhone 5 that would make it even greater!
Very good job.
It's amazing the work they can do, with some important tools at hand.
Combining the knowledge of 3D software, ease of ordering models made starting at 3D printing, I believe that this fosters creative and technological development.

Congratulations on your work.

Daniel Domingos
davon2421 year ago
For those who want to download the files, try using (IDM) Internet download manager, opening the drop target and simply drag the file into drop target. Hope it could help.
bpreib2 years ago
I cannot download any of your files correctly. When i download them, it looks like it is just code or something weird:
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* PDElib Version v51a, created Tue 11/30/2010 *

and they download with the file name as unknown. Is there something i have to do to change it?
Depending on the browser you use, it may not automatically download files like this. I use Firefox and if I just click on the files I get pretty much the same problem. T fix this I use an add-on called flash-got allowing me to save the target of a link. In internet explorer you should be able to right click and then select 'Save Target As'. Not sure about Chrome or other browsers.
Maundy (author)  bpreib2 years ago
I do not seem to have this problem, are you opening (or importing) these files from inside the CAD program? If not, this may be the reason as the text you have mentioned may have resulted from opening these files in a text editor or software which mistakenly recognises the file as a text file thus resulting in these weird characters.

The file name will be different to the one stated on the attachment, I can not do anything about this, this is just how this site manages and organises attachments to make sure each has a unique name, the file name however should affect the file's ability to open so long as the file extension is the same as the one on the attachment (.3DS or .stp).

I hope this helps
Maundy
Could you add a case for iPod Touches? Thanks :)
Maundy (author)  WhattheAmrit2 years ago
I will try, although due to the more complex curved geometry of the back of the ipod touch and upcoming exams I may not have time in the coming weeks.
Does the $30 include s+h?
Maundy (author)  WhattheAmrit2 years ago
This is dependant on the shipping location and the amount of material you have added or taken away from the template, the template by itself, including shipping to the USA, costs $28.58 excluding taxes, whereas it costs $37.90 if shipping to the UK although this included 20% VAT.

The 3d printed models are shipped from the Netherlands so there is no chance of incurring import duties if you live in the EU, I think they have set up a 3d printing 'station' in New York for all orders made within the USA as well.
Maundy (author) 2 years ago
I have uploaded template files for those of you who are struggling, read the top of the first step - Good Luck!
Just a thought, in the version with movable cogs you could have a cog protruding slightly from a slot in the edge of the case to make a thumb wheel for turning the cogs.
Maundy (author)  yellowcatt2 years ago
That is a neat idea, I'm going to give it a go!
its so confusing T___T
Maundy (author)  Reed_Sky_Born2 years ago
Sorry, I understand where you are coming from although this instructable is probably easier to follow if the reader has had some experience with CAD as you would be more familiar with some of the termanology used.
Hehe. I cant understand it but want to do it so bad I might have to learrrn :)
Maundy (author)  astroboy9072 years ago
I have updated the instructable and it is now even easier to create your own 3d printed iPhone case :)
I have a video on my instrctable on how to make an iPhone case
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-an-iPhone-4s-Case/