Introduction: 3D Printing a Phone Case

We will be designing, customizing, and 3D printing a phone case in a few simple steps.

To do this you will need a few simple things:

  • A CAD modeling software
  • A 3D printer with filament
  • a software compatible with your 3D printer

Step 1: Decide What You Will Be Doing

You will need to know what your phone case will be before you start to design it.

You will want to know:

  • what phone you are designing for
    • iphone 8, Galaxy 9, etc.
  • what modifications you plan on making
    • adding a logo, adding designs, etc.
  • what modeling software you will use
    • Auto CAD, Solidworks, Fusion 360, etc. (Auto desk Apps are free for students, whose schools have a licence)

We designed an iPhone 5/5S/SE case with a McLaren logo in Auto CAD.

Step 2: Make or Find a Case

You can either find a .stl file online or make a 3d model yourself if you are savvy enough and have the time. We recommend finding a model on a website such as thingiverse, or, if you have an iPhone 5/5S/SE, you can use our base model, found above. If you want to customize your case, we recommend using the subtract command in AutoCAD, or equivalent software, to remove a pattern from your design, such as our McLaren Logo, from the model. This way, it won't get caught on your pocket.

Step 3: Getting Your Case Ready to 3D Print

Before you can 3D print your case you need to get the case out of the 3D modeling software and ready to actually print. Since we used AutoCAD we will show you how we did it, but if you are unsure how to do these steps in different circumstances, google is your friend.

Here's how we did it:

First you will need to export the case as a .stl file. To do this in AutoCAD we go in the top left menu, select export, other formats, .stl, and save the file. Afterwards, select the object in AutoCAD and hit enter to save. Now you will need to take the .stl file and import it into a slicing software, such as makerbot3D. MakerBot is the software that is compatible with our 3D printer, but you may need different software for yours. We use MakerBot make the file readable and ready to upload to the 3D printer. In MakerBot we made sure that the case will be centered and on the platform, and to set the infill, type of plastic, and level of detail. We recommend high detail and 35% infill.

Once you have gotten the file ready you will need to save it to a flash drive. Now you are ready to print!

Step 4: Printing the Case

Now that you have the case on a flash drive. You are in the homestretch, but now is the longest step. All you need to do is plug the flash drive into the 3D printer and follow the few simple steps. It can take a wide range of time depending on what settings you used and the speed of your printer. Ours took 4 1/2 hours, which sounds like a lot, but since you just let it go with minimal attention it isn't that bad.

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