Lessons Learned 3D Printing a Customized Iphone Case

Introduction: Lessons Learned 3D Printing a Customized Iphone Case

About: Based in San Francisco I strive to incorporate custom lettering in the art that I design, print, and make.

This instructable will review the steps necessary to use thingiverse.com customizer app to customize a 3D printable iphone case from your browser. The features in the model and the customizer app guides you in your customization with 3 options.

1) what model of iphone 4 / 4S / 5
2) normal or sturdy
3) geometric pattern design for rear of case

On thingiverse you can choose to publish and share what you customize.
check out the file for the 3D print at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:102910

I made it at Techshop http://techshop.ws
Submitted by SFlettering for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Digital File View

Here you can see the printer control interface where it shows the file print progress. Note that the area that is at the current print level is highlighted in red as the current path while the black areas are previously printed layers. The digital file is available in STL format from thingiverse.com and then must be sliced before importing into the printer control program.

TIP: you can import an STL file directly into Pronterface if you accept only the default slice settings.
Download Type A Machines Software at http://www.typeamachines.com/pages/downloads

Step 2: Print Error. Faded Look

Sometimes when starting the print things do not go as well as expected. In this case you can stop the print or choose restart in pronterface (print control software).

TIP: It is best to reload the file if you encountered printer errors based on experience

Other things to consider when you print is faded

Is the nozzle clogged ?
is the print platform level ?
is your tape clean ?

Step 3: Starting the Print

Here when starting the print you are at the most important spot to get a good quality 3D print

A few items to consider
this print does not use a raft layer and therefore might have some early errors with PLA not staying in place
many of the areas printed in the first layer were "dragged" into other layers in the final print

TIP: even if you encounter some error initially and are not printing a professional item you can allow the print to finish and it will smooth out the print as it prints more layers on top. This does leave hard plastic though that could scratch you or your device and must be removed with wire cutters or by sanding.

Step 4: Print Restarted for Best Results - More Layers

As the print progressed and put more layers into place the overall quality improved. I was surprised by how well the layers after the first 3 were put into place. When at this stage expect to see the part of the design that is unique to your customized settings. 

TIP: When choosing a geometric layer pattern for the back you get to choose how many sides and a few other geometric pattern settings that can make your case a one of a kind design.

Step 5: Making It Sturdy and Printing the Sides

One of the options when printing the case was to choose the sturdy version. Here the print is making the walls stronger as it makes them a bit thicker / wider than other 3D printed iphone cases. The sturdy choice slowed down the overall print time as did the number of sides in the geometric pattern selection. At this stage you can see the results of the infill selections that you made in KiSSlicer.

Printer settings are best learned through printing multiple models and testing out the results by changing the settings. When doing test it is best to print something that completes in 10-20 minutes rather than a file like this case which took 52 minutes to print.

TIP: Many times when slicing your STL initially it is good to use default settings to get an idea of default model quality.

Step 6: A Great Print With a Few Minor Errors - What to Pay Attention to When Printing

One aspect of all 3D printing is that it takes time. Here I used some of the time to practice writing in calligraphy. In future instructables you will be able to view some of my handwritten calligraphy 3D printed as final products and stencils. 

When you are printing it is important to watch the first few levels and to check on your print every so often. On a print like this you will not be able to resume from an error and something small in the beginning can ruin the entire print. The overall print here came out well, but the 1st few layers had some issues and produced the sharp PLA slices on the bottom inside and outside of the case. 

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    did you have any problems printing the walls? I'm using a makerbot replicator 2x and it stops extruding (but keeps moving) after the first few layers of the back are finished