Introduction: Laser Cut Leather IPad Handle

When the first iPad came out, there was a very poor selection of iPad cases, especially nice ones, so I made my own.  It had a flap that cover the screen, and did a great job of protecting the iPad, but it was missing one critical thing, the handle.

Here's a super easy to make case for the iPad that incorporates a grab handle on the back.  I made it using a laser cutter, but you can also use the pattern and cut it out with a very sharp exacto knife and scissors.  

It was designed in Solidworks, from a CAD model of the iPad.  The pictures show it on an iPad 1, but it works just as well on the iPad 2 and iPad 3.

If you like this project, I would greatly appreciate your VOTE for it in the Make it Real Challenge, at the top right of this page.  Thanks!

Step 1: Materials

The Basics
- Piece of leather larger than the ipad by at least 0.75 inches all the way around.  Leather should be about 1/8in thick, and relatively stiff.  If using thin leather, you could always cut out 2 patterns, and glue them together using rubber cement.
- The pattern.
- A laser cutter/engraver.  (or a sharp exacto, knife and or scissors)

Laser cutters are expensive, but I built my first one using the open source design at Buildlog.net 2.x
If you're in Atlanta, Ga, you can come and use my laser cutter, which I make available to the craft and DIY community: http://www.engineerable.com/design/laser-cutter-engraver-rental/
 
Recreating from Scratch and making a Custom Logo
If you want to design it from scratch, or add a custom logo, you will need
- Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, or other Vector design software.
- (Optional) Solidworks, or other CAD

Step 2: Design in CAD

I use Solidworks, but the process would be similar in other CAD software.

- It's easiest to start with a CAD model of the iPad.  I found a good one on www.GrabCad.com.
- Insert a plane on the front surface of the iPad.
- Create a sketch on the plane that you just made.
- Use the Convert Entities tool to grab the outermost edges of the iPad.  You want to end up with an outline sketch of the iPad.  Close the sketch once you have the outline.
- Create a new sketch on the same plane. 
- Use the Convert Entities tool to grab the outline of the iPad screen. Close the sketch once you have the outline. Hide the iPad Body, and you should have the 2 sketches shown in the second picture.
- Sketch a slot in one of the corners as shown in the 3rd picture.  The slot will allow the iPad corner to pass through the leather. Mirror the slot onto the other side, and then mirror both slots onto the bottom.  You should have 4 slots.
- Create an offset entity from the iPad outline that is 0.6in larger.  This will be the outside edge of the leather case.
- Draw the cutouts for the handle.  Just draw one cutout above the centerline, and then mirror it across the centerline.
- Hide everything but the outline of the leather, the cutouts, and the handle sketch.  Create a drawing from these sketches.  Make sure that the drawing is 1:1 scale, and export it as a dxf file.


Step 3: Adding Graphics and Logo

I use Corel Draw for laser artwork, because it's not expensive.  You could use any vector drawing program of choice

Import the dxf into Corel.  Set linewidth to something visible.  Remember to change the linewidth to "hairline" for the laser to know to cut the outline.

Add graphics of your choice to engrave.

Add your logo or name.

Step 4: Laser Cutting

I started by cutting the outline first before engraving.
- Send the outline to the laser.  The procedure depends on the laser you are using.
- Set the laser to approx 35% speed, 100% power, and 400dpi.
- Place the leather in position on the laser table.  Make sure it is flat.  Set some heavy objects on it around the corners to keep it flat.  It's best if you use a vector cutting table, to reduce charring on the back side.
- Focus the laser cutter height.
- Press Go, and watch it cut!

Step 5: Laser Engraving the Artwork or Logo.

Setup the laser to raster mode. Output the graphic to the laser cutter.  Properly align the leather under the laser in the location that you want to engrave the leather.  You may want to test on a scrap piece of leather, or cardboard first.

Laser settings (30W): 100% speed, 50% power, and 500dpi

Press go, and cross your fingers.

Step 6: Clean Up

I cleaned up the edges with a damp cloth, and use some leather cleaner, or conditioner to do final cleanup.

Step 7: Try It on the IPad

You're awesome leather iPad handle case is complete.  Try it on.  It's going to be a tight fit, but leather is stretchy.  P on one corner at at time.  The first 3 corners should be easy.  Carefully and slowly stretch the last corner over the edge.  It will pop right over, and securely hold your iPad.

Step 8: CAD and Vector Files

These are the files that you need to recreate the Leather iPad Handle Case

Comments

author
andy.knote (author)2015-01-08

Nice! Really nice work there.

author
Salmondog (author)2012-05-13

Got a good source for leather? Possibly online too?

author
engineerable (author)Salmondog2012-05-13

I buy all my leather from a local Atlanta store, Tandy Leather. Don't know about any good online sources. Also it's tough to see what you're getting online, and the local store had better prices than what I saw online. Look around you first, because most cities have a leather supply store or craftsman.

author
Riversegel (author)engineerable2014-06-23

could you make another one with measurements for ipad mini . its for my pop

author
crispycat (author)2013-08-30

recently been laser cutting leather and finding it hard to get rid of the burnt hair smell
any tips? or product recommendations?
cheers

author
jessyratfink (author)2012-05-12

That's an awesome design - love it!

About This Instructable

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Bio: Daniel Bauen breathes new life into objects that have met their untimely demise in the junk pile.
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