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 http://www.shapeways.com/shops/saurus

Cheers! -Danny
ShaikhaT1 month ago

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

Thanks for the great design.

JungHoP2 months ago

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!

brookemart3 months ago

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

JayF45 months ago

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

NickyR28 months ago

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

LuxCase1 year ago

Love this case!

Great idea and execution Danny!

Danny Tas (author)  LuxCase1 year ago

Thanks LuxCase, I'm glad you like it.

Danny Tas (author) 2 years ago
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

I thought you might like to know someone has stolen the product and re-posted it for sale. Found this for sale on Kraftwurx.com by user "Admin"
Originator2 years ago
I thought you might like to know someone has stolen the product and re-posted it for sale. Found this for sale on Kraftwurx.com by user "Admin"
dh4053 years ago
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)  dh4053 years ago
Thanks for the comments dh!
That's a great idea, I'll look into for V2 once I have a chance.
lslonim3 years ago
Can I just buy one from you? Or are they on etsy or something?
Danny Tas (author)  lslonim3 years ago
Hi Islonim, Thanks for your interest, I'm hoping to set something up at  Shapeways soon.
Danny Tas (author) 3 years ago
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 :)
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. Noack3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback Mr Noack!
I'm glad you like it, yeah the phone does support the walls.

Danny Tas (author) 3 years ago
It finally arrived!

yamayka3 years ago
wow! Great design, brilliant idea!
Danny Tas (author)  yamayka3 years ago
Thanks yamayka!
mangomango3 years ago
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)  mangomango3 years ago
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 ?

I think that something like this would be your best bet
Danny Tas (author)  mangomango3 years ago
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.

hwarang53 years ago
do you have an auto desk inventor version?
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
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)  mangomango3 years ago
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.
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)  mangomango3 years ago
Cool! Thanks.
Danny Tas (author)  hwarang53 years ago
No I haven't, sorry.
stumitch3 years ago
VERY cool! now..... where did i put the transmorgifier so i can build a bunch....
rocketguy3 years ago
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)  rocketguy3 years ago
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.

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)  rocketguy3 years ago
Sounds great RG! Thanks for keeping us up to date.

Cheers ang good luck!
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.
lheitkamp3 years ago
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)  lheitkamp3 years ago
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.
I don't think you'll understand what the site says since it's in German but here it is: http://objectplot.de/
There are some other sites but this gave me some information about the printing :)
Danny Tas (author)  lheitkamp3 years ago
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 :)
Lindie3 years ago
Love it!
Danny Tas (author)  Lindie3 years ago
Thanks Lindie!
derte843 years ago
You could add a gear that cover and protect the camera lens when not used
Danny Tas (author)  derte843 years ago
Not a bad idea derte84, I'll put that on the wish list for the next generation :)
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.
Danny Tas (author)  robertallenpayne3 years ago
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.
Danny Tas (author)  robertallenpayne3 years ago
Sounds good Rob.
Funny the gears don't meet Shapeways requirements, I thought being flat and fairly simple geometry it would of been a piece of cake to print....mmm.
This is awesome! I'm no engineer, but I'm going to make this! Thank you so much!!
It looks like I would have to be an engineer, as I have no access to a machine that will make the cover. Right? :( Btw, I can't download the instructions.
Danny Tas (author)  candygirl01663 years ago
Yeah, sorry about that candygirl this is a project that requires access to a 3d printer, I've provided the necessary parts within the zip file ready for printing at such places like Shapeways.com, I-materialise.com and kraftwurx.com just to name a few.
Awww...that's too bad. :( I don't even know where to access a 3D printer, besides at a college/university. I really wanted to impress my friends with this case, and the fact that I put it together myself! candy girl = sad girl

Thanks Danny for your reply and links!
Hi Danny,
What a great fun case to wrap your iPhone in ! Which software do I need to open/read a ".STL" file ? And can your case be laser-cut ? What is the thickness of the cogs ?
I don't have a 3D printer yet, but I LOVE gears. And unfortunately, I don't have access to videos (even Youtube and Vimeo) so I can't see it working, but I guess it should be really fun !
Congratulations, man !
Cheers !
Danny Tas (author)  Openyourmind3 years ago
Hi Jeff,
You can open the files with http://meshlab.sourceforge.net/ it's a free mesh editing/optimising software.

The gears are 1.25mm (0.05") thick and could be laser cut, as for the main body you might have to slice it up to suit laser cutting then glue the pieces together and maybe you can use alternate rivets or screws to suit.

Thanks for the link, it looks like a great software.

Maybe I'll stick the gears on the back of an old iPhone 4 case or I will arrange a special cradle as I did in my instructable a few months ago (http://www.instructables.com/id/iPhone-stand-great-professional-looking/)
Thanks again Danny.
Hi Danny,
What a great fun case to wrap your iPhone in !
Which software do I need to open/read a ".STL" file ? And can your case be laser-cut ? What is the thickness of the cogs ?
I don't have a 3D printer yet, but I LOVE gears.
And unfortunately, I don't have access to videos (even Youtube and Vimeo) so I can't see it working, but I guess it should be really fun !
Congratulations, man !
Cheers !
Hi Danny,

What a great fun case to wrap your iPhone in !
Which software do I need to open/read a ".STL" file ? And can your case be laser-cut ? What is the thickness of the cogs ?
I don't have access to a 3D printer but I LOVE gears.
Unfortunately, I don't have access to videos (even Youtube or Vimeo...) so I can't see it working, but I guess it should be really fun !
Congratulations, man !
Cheers !
myxpykalix3 years ago
Nice design. I have not even opened the files yet but thought this was really cool. I am going to check them out to see if i can cut them on my CNC machine with a 1/16th" bit. If not i may just enlarge everything and make it into a kinetic sculpture. Hey maybe if my bits are too big i could adapt it into an Ipad cover? ha!
Danny Tas (author)  myxpykalix3 years ago
A 30 thou corner rad might be borderline for the gears but it might just work machine up two and see how they mesh otherwise go for the IPad version that sounds Awsome, make sure you keep us updated on that one. Cheers!
rbeforee3 years ago
I think I love you! LOL
This combines two of my favorite things in the world... My iPhone and mechanical, analog gears and gizmos.

This is a beautiful work of art!!
Danny Tas (author)  rbeforee3 years ago
Rbeforee!! We hardly know each other ;)
Cheers! I'mglad you like it.
dacker3 years ago
It appears the design included accommodation for a piece of Lexan to be flush mounted over the entire back. Is this correct?

If so, there does not appear to be a way of turning the gears once the Lexan is in place or do the photos just not show this?
Danny Tas (author)  dacker3 years ago
Hi dacker, not intended to have a lexan top, it's designed for touching and spinning .
Danny Tas (author) 3 years ago
Thanks guy's!

@ newton.95.dan, RE: Screws, they're actually little press fit rivets and if they don't press fit then a little glue will help :)
do you have any for sale?
Danny Tas (author)  pudgytaco3 years ago
Not yet pudgytaco, I'm looking into it.
Hi Danny Tas,
Great funny gear to wrap an iPhone 4 in, man !
I am wondering what software an ".STL" extension file is related to ?
Do you think it is possible to laser-cut this case ? How thick are the gears ? I don't have access yet to a 3D printer and I LOVE gears so much...
I live in a country where we don't have access to videos (even Youtube, Vimeo...) :-( it's really annoying. So I can't see it working and can't see the mounting of it...
Cheers !
what would be the printer of preference here - I'm trying with a RepRap but not having to much luck???????????
Danny Tas (author)  i.m.hephaestus3 years ago
I've just started in the 3D printing world and I'm reaseaching into it, I don't know the resolution and capabilities of the RepRap, I waiting for mine from Shapeways, once recieved I'll post a review.
Sorry I couldn't help further, maybe the RepRap forums?
oilitright3 years ago
Some of these 3d printer projects are so awesome. All of us poor common folk just sit and drool, Crestfallen because 3d printers aren't likely in out future.
You might not have to wait too long, small hobby 3d printers are becoming dramatically cheaper, and within about 5 years they ar looking to dramatically reduce in price, especially seeing as they are developing 3d printers that can repoduce all of their parts, making the cost of production much cheaper.

Not too long now!
That is pretty good news' I'll have to make a news search reminder for 3d printer price drop
Chinasaur3 years ago
How hard to add a little worm gear at the bottom with a motor? Then how hard to plug it into the phone's bottom port for power? Then how hard to make it turn when you get a call? Go go go!
Danny Tas (author)  Chinasaur3 years ago
Wow! some 'out there ' ideas Chinasaur, all possible, maybe for the next generation :)

Here's a tiny motor :). http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/KHN4NX1RC/P14793CT-ND/2686253
Ha ha I love the idea !!


Browse all my FREE designs for 3D printing:
clazman3 years ago
Being a non practicing Mechanical Engineer (retired), except for giving sage advice, I give you a 5 star rating for both the project and your beautifully worded description.

I am continually amazed, and yes, belittled by many of the submissions presented via this site, Instructables.com.

My only hope is to submit acknowledgements of creations well done as well as submit worthwhile suggestions base on my education and experience.

No such suggestions required here save for running a Finite Element Analysis on your creation to reduce unnecessary material in the gear support ;) .

Three cheers!
Danny Tas (author)  clazman3 years ago
Thanks for the kind words clazman and yes, I think a FEA would be an overkill :)
gsus083 years ago
does the zip file extrude into a MoI readable file?
Danny Tas (author)  gsus083 years ago
The zip file contains the parts in .STL format ready for printing.
Idloid3 years ago
Man you're my hero, as said in Die Hard; we are analog watches in digital world
This is a real nice case but I'm just wondering how would you keep the gears from falling off and still be able to spin them?
OH, ha I did not see the little screws there. Great design!
Danny Tas (author) 3 years ago
Thanks guy's, just added an update, it's a photograph of the cover printed, not by me though :(
Awesome iphone case! If I had an iPhone, this is the case I would want, for sure :)
WYE_Lance3 years ago
Wow, that is such a neat idea! Great 1st Instructable (following!)
Xolin3 years ago
That's REALLY cool..! Well done.
Danny Tas (author)  Xolin3 years ago
Thanks Xolin!