Introduction: How to Turn a Smartphone Mount Into a Smartphone Dock With 3D Printing

Smartphone mounts are cool and cheap, but I use GPS and stream music while I'm driving, which means a dead battery unless I plug in every time. Plus I didn't really wanna shell out a ton of money for the "official" appleware. So I decided to make one myself, since I already had the mount and just needed to 3D print a little holder for the charging cable to turn it into a dock. In my case, I made it at Techshop!

And fear not! If you don't have a 3D Printer or have a nearby Techshop, Shapeways is a great service to 3D Print whatever you need at a low cost.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools!

Your going to need:
- your phone for reference
- charging cable for reference
- your current mount for reference
- double sided mounting tape; if you plan on taping it down

- 3D printer
- filament
- probably blue masking tape for your printer bed
- measurement tools

Step 2: Take Measurements

Okay, this is where we measure all the aspects about our phone and charging cable so that we create an accurate CAD model to base our sleeve off of and make sure it fits properly.

phone is:
- 62mm wide
- 10mm thick

charging cable is:
- 10mm wide
- 5mm thick
- hard plastic nub ends 12mm away from end of phone

Step 3: CAD Design

Okay, now basically build your dock inside your 3D CAD program. The main thing to make sure your dock works is to create the hole where the charging cable sits. And the simplest design I can think of uses a slit, so that you can bend it open and slide in your charging cable. This slit can be as wide as the charging cable or more, but not as large as that little hard plastic part near the end of the charging cable.

I also put ports for my phone's mic and speakers. However, I didn't create a port for my audio jack, because the usb cable can plug into my stereo. Also this design is meant to have double-sided tape hold the dock on the mount, but you could design clips so that it clips in securely instead. So basically customize this mount to what you need.

Finally take a close look at your design and do your best to make sure everything should work when you actually use it.

*If you don't already know how to use a CAD program, this is a great exercise to take those little baby steps.

Step 4: Print It Up!

Step 5: Assembly and Finished!

Bend open that slit we created earlier, and slide in the charging cable. Now add the mounting tape and attach it to your smartphone mount. Now combine the dock with your mount making sure it sits all the way at the bottom. The tape is only strong enough to hold it in place when resting and unplugging it. Now it's a smartphone dock! Congrats!

And in my case, my dock is still pretty rough, because it still has some printing defects, stringyness, and off-color. However, this is just a quick prototype to make sure everything fits right, before I send it off to get it printed with better 3D printers from Shapeways =) I'd highly recommend the Strong, Flexible Plastic that comes in a variety of colors.