Introduction: IPhone Cover for Engineers

Picture of IPhone Cover for Engineers

With everything going digital these days I started to think that current and future Engineering/Mechanical students are going to rely a lot on software to solve problems, it's happening now, I do it. When something new or something that we haven't done in a while in Engineering arises we always look for the easy/lazy way out, we either search the internet for an online calculator, software or look through the app store for a solution, but there's one thing missing, you can't touch it, feel it, assemble it, that's why I came up with, I believe, the first analogue Iphone app.
You get this baby printed, you get a sense of achievement because you assembled it, you spin those little 1.25 module gears and admire it in awe.
The gears are all embossed with the number of teeth so you can work out ratios, there are even and odd number of teeth gears just to make it that bit more challenging, it's a great visual to see what direction what gear is going in a gear train. You won't even have to turn on your phone and it still works. 
Come up with your own funky colour combination.........see! the fun never stops.

The STL files are available on request for personal use only.

iPhone 5 version can be found at

Cheers! -Danny


JorddyF1 (author)2016-06-04

This is such an awesome case. As an engineering student, I would love to print this out and sport it around. Do you think it is possible to for you to send me the iPhone 5 stl?

Alexd83 (author)2015-10-18

I love this case! It looks amazing and as an engineering student im really wanting to build this. do you mind sending me the Iphone 5c .stl files thanks and what an awesome job.

ShaikhaT (author)2015-07-19

Adoring the idea!! Do you have an STL for an iPhone 6?

Thanks for the great design.

JungHoP (author)2015-06-10

As an engineering student, this is true heart of engineering in this digitalized(?) world.

I love the motivation of this idea!

Do you mind sending the cad file for me?

Thank you!

brookemart (author)2015-05-26

Could you send me the 5c .STL? This is a great idea!

JayF4 (author)2015-03-11

Could you send me the .stl files? I can't seem to find them on this page and it looks correctly.

NickyR2 (author)2014-12-02

Do you have an iphone 5C .STL version of this case? I prefer this design to the 5C one you have linked above :)

LuxCase (author)2014-01-20

Love this case!

Great idea and execution Danny!

Danny Tas (author)LuxCase2014-01-20

Thanks LuxCase, I'm glad you like it.

Danny Tas (author)2013-04-18

Hi Instructables fans, I've got the iPhone 5 version up at Shapeways to see how it goes. I'll post the V5 model a little later.

Shapeways Shop


Originator (author)Danny Tas2013-07-07

I thought you might like to know someone has stolen the product and re-posted it for sale. Found this for sale on by user "Admin"

Originator (author)2013-07-07

I thought you might like to know someone has stolen the product and re-posted it for sale. Found this for sale on by user "Admin"

dh405 (author)2012-07-31

I like this case! If I might, I'd like to throw an idea out there for you.

Would it be possible to redesign this such that a gear would be positioned over the camera lens? The gear you could manufacture for that spot could have multiple lenses which could change by just rotating the gears. Normal, zoomed, macro, and maybe blocked? I think it would be a really neat upgrade.

Danny Tas (author)dh4052012-07-31

Thanks for the comments dh!
That's a great idea, I'll look into for V2 once I have a chance.

lslonim (author)2012-07-16

Can I just buy one from you? Or are they on etsy or something?

Danny Tas (author)lslonim2012-07-16

Hi Islonim, Thanks for your interest, I'm hoping to set something up at  Shapeways soon.

Danny Tas (author)2012-06-05

We've had a few people print this baby for their beloved Iphone's and received some great feedback and pictures......thanks for that! I've uploaded another version of the main body which has the side button holes cut out completely for those people having trouble in this area during printing, there are now two main bodies in the zip file, the original and one with the suffix 'cutout' ......Enjoy!

All votes appreciated :)

Mr. Noack (author)Danny Tas2012-06-29

I just printed this on the UP 3D printer, and everything came out pretty good. The only problem is I don't own an iphone and I broke the thin side walls when I put it in my pocket. Doh! I think as long as it's put on to the iphone immediately, the thin side walls should be supported by the phone itself. I had no problem printing the rivets.
Excellent instructable. 5 stars!!

Danny Tas (author)Mr. Noack2012-06-29

Thanks for the feedback Mr Noack!
I'm glad you like it, yeah the phone does support the walls.


Danny Tas (author)2012-06-14

It finally arrived!

yamayka (author)2012-06-03

wow! Great design, brilliant idea!

Danny Tas (author)yamayka2012-06-03

Thanks yamayka!

mangomango (author)2012-05-31

I printed a couple off in black and red then mixed and matched, 8 cases in all, but as you can see the button hole was a problem every single time. great design on the gears, I just wish the case itself was a little thicker

Danny Tas (author)mangomango2012-05-31

They look great mango! Thanks for posting them.

mmm.....I see what you mean about the cutout, maybe if I can eliminate the bridging around the buttons and just have an open slot, would that be easier to print ?


mangomango (author)Danny Tas2012-06-02

I think that something like this would be your best bet

Danny Tas (author)mangomango2012-06-03

Thanks mango, exactly what I was thinking.
I'll upload a side cutout version soon. It'll be the same zip file but with two versions of the main body.


hwarang5 (author)2012-05-21

do you have an auto desk inventor version?

mangomango (author)hwarang52012-05-25

I'm currently trying to make one. When i printed it out, it was realllly thin and broke so i figured id beef it up a bit. I'll update you when I'm finished

Santorican (author)mangomango2012-05-29

I printed it out and the problem I ran into is that the rivots are too small for the stereolithography printer to print. What can I do?

Danny Tas (author)mangomango2012-05-25

Hi mangomango,

Thanks for the feedback, which area was thin ? I'm still waiting for mine for assessment.
The last photo above was from someone else that had printed it and said there were no issues and the Iphone fitted perfect, anyhow what ever has to be done I'll soon find out once I have one in hand.

mangomango (author)Danny Tas2012-05-26

The side panel with the button hole was filled with support material so it snapped when trying to get it out, i tried printing your file a little differently so im waiting on that but other than that small piece it works fantastic. I already have 9 people asking for one. Great job!

Danny Tas (author)hwarang52012-05-21

No I haven't, sorry.

Danny Tas (author)mangomango2012-05-25

Cool! Thanks.

stumitch (author)2012-05-23

VERY cool! now..... where did i put the transmorgifier so i can build a bunch....

rocketguy (author)2012-05-21

Well done sir! I suspect that I'll be driving myself insane until I can print this on my Replicator, looks like it may be a fairly challenging build, but totally worth it.

Serious geek cred here.

Do you have any thoughts on layer height etc, necessary for a successful build?

Danny Tas (author)rocketguy2012-05-21

Hi rocketguy,

I've just started getting into the 3d printing world so I wouldn't be much help on your layer height question, maybe the 3d printing forums would be a better place to ask the question.


rocketguy (author)Danny Tas2012-05-21

Now that I've generated the S3G files from your STL's, it' looks fairly straightforward.

Going to try tonight and see how it goes. Will post results on thingiverse if I manage to get it to work. I'm using defaults to start with, just for simplicity and we'll see how that goes.


Danny Tas (author)rocketguy2012-05-21

Sounds great RG! Thanks for keeping us up to date.

Cheers ang good luck!

rocketguy (author)Danny Tas2012-05-22

Very sad, total fail last night. It's something with my machine settings, insufficient fill for the gears and the case itself needs support (which is an easy fix, but I ran out of awake before I could get to it).

Not sure what to do with the gears yet, I may just stab in the dark on the various fill settings in skeinforge to see what happens.

Going to keep trying, if I get it to a good place I'll post a derivative on thingiverse.

lheitkamp (author)2012-05-22

I really love the design! I want to have this printed for my boyfriend since he's obsessed with gears. But, I really don't know anything about 3D printing. I searched through google and came up with a site in my country that offers 3D prints.
They have two options for printing. I don't really know the English names so I used google translate.. :/
The first one is "powder coating print" and the second one is "FDM-plastic print".
Which one would you recommend?
Also, how do I change the colour of the gears?
And is this suitable for iPhone 4S or only the iPhone 4?
I apologize for my many questions and my bad English but I hope you can help me :)
Have a nice day and create more stuff like this, it's really nice! :)

Danny Tas (author)lheitkamp2012-05-22

Hi lheitkamp, Thanks!

FDM (Fused deposition modelling) is the most common method for 3d printers, I'm not sure what 'powder coating print' is maybe it's a misinterpretation by Google, there is a form of 3d printing which uses powdered plastic and forms up the part by binding (glueing) the powder together layer by layer this gives more detail and has a uniform surface finish but I think the part isn't as strong as FDM.
I'm still new to 3d printing myself maybe someone with more experience could chip in here, I'd say go for the FDM.
If you can post the links to the websites you found I could probably investigate further.

lheitkamp (author)Danny Tas2012-05-22

I don't think you'll understand what the site says since it's in German but here it is:
There are some other sites but this gave me some information about the printing :)

Danny Tas (author)lheitkamp2012-05-22

Not to worry Google translate does a pretty good job.
I see, the company offers FDM and powder layer printing, the powder layer method would look nicer not sure about the strength though.
Why don't you just send them the model that's zipped on this post and ask them what they would recommend at the same time ask for a quote.
Good luck and I hope your boyfriend likes it :)

Lindie (author)2012-05-20

Love it!

Danny Tas (author)Lindie2012-05-22

Thanks Lindie!

derte84 (author)2012-05-20

You could add a gear that cover and protect the camera lens when not used

Danny Tas (author)derte842012-05-22

Not a bad idea derte84, I'll put that on the wish list for the next generation :)

robertallenpayne (author)2012-05-21

Amazing case! Thanks for Sharing. I'm going to order it in stainless from Shapeways I think. Will be my first attempt at stainless. We'll see how it goes.

You're welcome Rob.

The gears in stainless would be awsome but I'd leave the main body in plastic because it would be physically impossible to clip your phone in, also might interfere with the arial.
Stainless steel would be a bit weighty too, make sure you have your pockets reinforced ;)

Yeah, but I was willing to give it a go. Unfortunately, it seems like the gears don't meet Shapeways requirements for stainless printing. So I may do the alumide instead. That will be a lot less expensive too, and still have some flexibilty.

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