Can you make a phone case with a 3D printer? You bet’ya – in this article, I will cover the basics of designing a phone case for printing in 3D. This is a practical how-to guide featuring step-by-step instructions with illustrative photos.
Bonus: I have also included tips and tricks for designing the perfect case! So you can create your customized item with whichever color(s) you want, in any design that suits you best. Also, the same process goes for printing other items, like designing 3d printed miniatures.
How To Design A 3D Printed Phone Case
Creating (Or Finding An Existing) A 3D Model Of A Case For Your Phone
In order to create a 3d model of a phone case, you first need a digital representation of what you want. There are actually two main ways you can do this: use other people’s designs and photos.
Paid Sites with Borrowed Designs and Photos
There are several websites which offer a database of 3d models designed by other people. Some of them charge a small fee for downloading these models, but some will allow you to download for free (although some at a quality level too low to be useful for printing the case).
Free Sites with Your Own Designs and Photos
You can also go to a free website like Google Sketchup (which is what I use to create the model shown in this article). You can either draw your own design and/or import a photo which you can then convert into a 3d model. Just remember that to make your case really stand out, it’s important to have an original design.
Designing The Case From Scratch
In this section, I will show you how to design your own 3D printed case. Since there is no accepted standard for 3d printed phone cases, there are a lot of different possibilities. However, it’s always better to be unique rather than copy others’ designs.
The first step in designing a phone case is to determine the dimensions of the piece you want to print. In the case of a phone case, there are three dimensions that you need to know.
- The first dimension is the overall size of the piece (e.g., 4-inches by 3-inches by 0.2-inches). This is how big you want the interior space of the case to be, so that it will fit whatever smartphone you plan on using it for (along with any other elements or accessories).
- The second dimension is the thickness of the wall (e.g., 0.2-inches). This is the distance between the interior and exterior surfaces of the case.
- The third dimension is for the size of holes you will add for routing cables (e.g., 0.5-inches by 0.5-inches). This dimension is important for the final look of your case.
To be sure of the measurements, print out a test case and measure it at all three dimensions. Since 3d printers work one layer at a time, you won’t need to worry about cutting the piece into separate pieces. As long as you can achieve all your desired dimensions, you’re good to go with this design!
But if you want to make improvements, which is often necessary with 3D printed objects, there are a couple of things you can do.
For example, if your measurements don’t work out, you will have to make some changes to the design to make it fit. You may want to ask a friend for help by letting them try on the case and see if it fits the phone (since 3D printed objects can be so hard to judge by eye). Or you can try making a second version of the case with slightly different dimensions.
Quick Tips For Designing A 3d Printed Phone Case
- Thicken the walls of the phone case to increase its durability
- Design with an opening for a camera lens or a flash
- If designing your own case, try to avoid designs that are already popular with other people. If you do choose your own design, try to be unique and original.
- Besides the case, you can also create a cover for the phone using a 3d printed snap on accessory. I will cover how to design and print on plastic in another article (to be released soon).
- Also, you can make a belt clip by adding an extra layer (3-inches) of thickness at the bottom of the case.
- Another great use for your 3d printed phone case is functional: you can use it as a holder for your phone! Here are some other ideas:
- Place a small battery inside it. This will charge the battery while your phone is charging in another location.
I hope you enjoyed this article on designing and printing a phone case. What are some of your favorite designs? Please feel free to add a comment about them!