Introduction: Make a Cheap Phone Case More Slip-resistant With Sugru

About: I'm an engineer. I problem solve all day, problem solve all night. I LOVE learning, and I love teaching what I learn. I want to post more, but time constraints stop me.

I bought a cheap cell phone case for  $1.99 when I got my Nexus One in January. I found it completely unacceptable as it made my phone MORE slippery than without it. 

I bought another phone case for 4 bucks that worked better.

But sadly, nothing lasts forever and it died.

So, rather than waste a 2 dollar case and buy another one, I decided to try to use $4 of sugru to make it more grippy. 

Is that a word? It is now. Shaddap.

DISCLAIMER: I swear, anything you do is your damn fault. Not mine. Ya dig? good.

PS. I KNOW IT'S UGLY. This stuff is not easy to work with, and I was kinda lazy yadda yadda. I'll address this at the end.

Step 1: Prep

You will need:
+1 crappy cell phone case
+2 sugru packets
+paper clip
+scotch tape
+scissors (to open the little silver vaults that the sugru is entombed in)

I recommend but didn't use:
+Hobby knives
+clay molding tools
+clay modeling experience
+hands with no finger prints or well-fitting (tight) latex gloves
+a lot of time

Step 2: Using SUGRU

This was my first time using sugru.

So, I will tell you what I SHOULD have done, now that I've actually worked with this sugru stuff. Think of this as, "I jacked it up and will tell you what I did wrong, so that way you learn from my lesson"

If you've never touched sugru, the consistency is like play-doh, or you could say it acts like wet clay, but is drier. 

It is moldable like clay, but it can stick to EVERYTHING, and you can't use a large wad of it to remove it from a stuck surface. You know, like when you blow a bubble with chewing gum and get some stuck to your lip, you just use the larger wad to pick up the smaller bubble fragments from your face.

Yeah, this is nothing like that.

It sticks to the wrapper, it sticks to your fingers, it sticks to everything. The only way to get it off when it does is to do the booger roll-and-flick technique, but don't flick it (it won't go anywhere, anyways), or to wipe it with your finger.

Fingerprints are an issue. It attracts and shows them just like wet clay, but unlike wet clay, you can't smooth it out after it's dry - if you come up with a way to remove fingerprints, please let me know in the comments. 

Sugru is silicone-based. you can't paint it, so far as I know. 

Good luck.

Step 3: Coat Your Case

This case came with a hole in the back. No idea why, I used to work in plastic injection molding and can tell this is intentionally part of the design.

I needed this gone.

I put tape on the back, and proceeded to coat the phone with one packet of sugru.

Hindsight being 20/20, I will use my clear vision to guide you so you don't make the same mistakes.
  • LESS IS MORE with sugru - I used too much and coated the whole phone. This made the process of smoothing unruly. I don't think you can work in layers, I'm fairly certain it will look funky if you start with a base layer, and added more sugru. Personally, this isn't worth it to me, it's a 2 dollar cell phone case and this sugru is expensive.

I would recommend using it in bands across the back - NOT coat the whole damn thing. The point is to make it grippy, not change the color. visually, I should have played with the black and orange color, rather than try to smother it.

It's really hard to get the thickness consistent too. i was naive thinking that I could get everything to look like it'd just come from a factory.

  • wear rubber gloves? -The fingerprint situation was driving me nuts. With clay you can just smooth it out when it hardens, or wet it and it'll release the fingerprints. I couldn't get it to do that, so I was frustrated most of the time. It made me wonder if latex gloves would have worked. I had nitrile gloves on, and the wrinkles in the material (they're not as form fitting as latex) caused wrinkles in the sugru
  • appreciate the fact it's not perfect - It's hard to get it perfect like it's from a machine. just accept it.
  • Be more creative - I was in a rush, so it looks like I was in a rush. Don't let that happen to you.

Step 4: Conclusion

All excuses aside, YOU can make yours look BETTER THAN mine. 

If I'd spent a bit more time planning, rather than rushing to get this done in 20 mins, yours could look a lot better than mine. 

Also, my phone is now encased in the case. If I want to remove the phone from the plastic case, I will need to remove the sugru exterior.

I DO NOT recommend sticking the sugru to your phone directly - it feels difficult to remove, and I have the strong feeling it won't come off cleanly.  I will see how long this lasts. (c: My gf says it's ugly, and I agree, but it's mine (c: and maybe no one will want to steal it...?

Good luck!

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