iPhone5 Dovetail Case

by david49152, published

iPhone5 Dovetail Case by david49152 Mar 8, 2013
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For an iPhone4 version, go here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:65553
For an iPod Touch Gen4 version, go here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:68536

It's a case for an iPhone5. There are many important differences between this case and others on Thingiverse. The most sensitive part of an iPhone is the edge of the glass. (The face of the glass is also sensitive, but we can't cover that!) Other cases do not offer much protection for the edge of the glass. Also other cases have a sloppy fit. This case solves both problems.

This case is made from two halves that slide onto the phone and snap together. When it snaps together, there is a strangely satisfying click! The two halves fit together very tightly, and will not accidentally come loose.


Print both halves separately. Because the surface finish is super important for a good looking case, use the highest resolution settings and slow down the speed. Having the filament diameter dialed in is also important.

Do not use rafts or supports. This is designed with "mouse ears" included in the STL.

After printing, some minor filing/sanding might be required on the dovetail joint. Also, break off the built-in "mouse ears" and file/sand down the spot where they broke off. The amount of filing/sanding should be minimal. It takes me about 2 minutes to do this step.

I printed this on a Replicator 2 in PLA with ReplicatorG/Skeinforge. My settings were:
Layer Height: 0.1
Infill: 100%
Shells: 0
Feedrate: 40
Travel Feedrate: 75

Remember to get your temperature and filament diameter set appropriately for your filament.

On my Replicator 2 it took about 3-3.5 hours for each half. About 6.5 to 7 hours total.

Taking the case off of the phone can be tricky the first time you do it. What you do is pry up two of the dovetails on the same side with shim-like things. They don't need to be raised very much, just so they clear the case back. With the shims in place, just pull the halves apart. Make sure that your pry-bar/shim will not scratch the iPhone. I have used things like bamboo skewers, saxophone reeds, and nylon zip-ties for this task.

I have included the Solidworks file for this design, so people can modify it. There are two elements in the design called "Top Cutoff" and "Bottom Cutoff". Use the suppress/unsuppress functions to basically select which half of the case is "active", then save the STL file for that half.

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If i was to give you all of the specs on an iPhone 6s, could you make a similar design but with the curves to fit it. The iPhone 5s has more of a square design but the newer models have a more curvy rounded design. I know it is a lot to ask but I would be very grateful if you could. You might be wondering why I can't do it myself like I did the iPod 5th gen, but this is because the software I use is not advanced enough to make nice curves. Thank you for your time.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to pass on that. It's not as simple as taking someone else's dimensions and designing the case. There is a lot of tweaking required to get the fit just right. But more importantly, I just don't have the time or interest to do such a design. Sorry!

May 7, 2016 - Modified May 7, 2016

WOW! I love it! How to print it without rafts or supports?

Don't print without rafts or supports. But you do need the mouse-ears, which are already included in the STL. Without the mouse ears there is very little plastic in contact with the build platform and it will come loose while printing.

Could you upload the models without the included "Rafts/bottom supports?"

Sorry, no. I'm done with this design and won't be making any changes. But you really don't want to print it upright without the "mouse ears" since that would not adhere to the print bed. And you don't want to print it lying down, since that would have very bad side effects (see comments below).

Apr 24, 2016 - Modified Apr 24, 2016

You seem very savvy with the controls on a 3D printer and I was wondering if you might know how to fix flare ups. Flare ups being, when one is printing at an angle, and the edge of the print after the nozzle goes by, bends up (about .62 mm) to the point that if the nozzle goes over it it ends up going into it, and knocking the print off the bed, sometimes I get lucky and it just melts through though. I have a Maker Gear M2 and use simplify 3D as my slicer software. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hmmm, this is a hard one. The problem comes from the plastic itself. It shrinks as it cools, and if it shrinks unevenly then you get warping. In most cases, the warping causes it to detach from the build platform but in some cases it can happen elsewhere. A common place for it to happen in this print is at the curved sides/corners, just a couple of mm up from the build platform.

The best solution is to stop the plastic from cooling! Or at least stop it from cooling as much. My printer is inside of a heated cabinet/chamber. The chamber is kept at 101 degrees F, and I print with PLA. Even then I get some warping although it is very rarely an issue. I would run it hotter, except that the printer electronics are in the heat and it would probably fail. There are also plastic bits to the printer that would do well with more heat. A lame but still useful alternative to this is to just cover up the sides of the printer enough to prevent drafts.

Another solution is to switch to a plastic that doesn't shrink as much when it cools. ABS is the worst, shrinking about 3%. PLA shrinks about 1%. I've been told that PET+/PETG shrinks about 0.5%, although I have never used it so I can't comment how well it works.

A third solution is to add some substantial supports that you take off after the print. These supports would have to be stronger than the normal supports that S3D adds-- although you might be able to change the settings to get what you want.

And a fourth solution is to print with smaller layers. This isn't so much a solution as a hack. What it essentially does is keeps the warping from getting too big, giving the print head an easier time pushing it back down.

Good luck!

Hello, first off i would like to say i absolutely love the product and design! But Recently i lost my phone so i went back to my old iPod 5th generation, so i had to find a good case that was strong and workable. My first thought was Thingiverse but the cases were A, to thin, flimsy, or B, din't even fit. For some reason your case popped up under the search of iPod 5, but none the less i loved it. Sadly, as you know it wasn't for iPod 5. So i downloaded the iPhone case and did some modifications to make it fit an iPod 5 perfectly. Anyways i was wondering if i could publish my modification of your case for the iPod 5th Gen?

Yes, absolutely! And thank you for asking! Just post your modified design like you'd do any other design and mark it as a "remix". Then you get to post your version for others to enjoy, but I still get attribution for the work that I did. Thanks again!

Thanks so much, could you check it out for me to make sure I didn't forget anything http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1516222.

iPod 5 case Dovetail
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could you make this for the 6 +

No, sorry. I did this design 2.5 years ago and I have since moved on to bigger and better things.

I love the design and the fitting, but there is one major problem with it, the fact that you set it up to print from the the bottom up. Yes it makes for a cleaner print but when you print the case up like that its making layers that are parallel to each other. It breaks really easy because of the way it prints!! Whereas when you print it on its back it crosses the filament over many times making a more flexible durable case! Can you make another one without the platform, so I can set it down?

There are more reasons to print it upright than just having a cleaner print. The geometry of this case requires printing it upright. If you printed it lying down then there would be overhangs that even supports would not help. So, no... I can't make another one without the mouse ears (a.k.a. platform). It wouldn't print correctly if I did.

Increasing your extrusion temperature would increase layer to layer adhesion and improve overall strength. If your filament diameter is set too large in your slicer then you could be getting weak prints (too small and you get a badly fitting case). Using 100% infill and one total shell is also critical in getting the strength right.

ok ill try. i took the original and cut it in half, printed it on its back when it reached the overhang the first 2 or 3 layers missed it but after that it did fine. the strength is better it hasn't had any big problems i think ill stick with it. couldn't you have just left them off in the first place so people have the choice to use a raft or brim? that way if people wanted to place it down they could.

Made this with M3D micro printer using medium quality and hollow thick walls. Printed in about 4 hours for each half. Had to file it a lot to get the two halves to join. Unfortunately some bits broke off when I joined it on the iphone. I would like a version without a locking mechanism just straight ends. Because as another person pointed out it fits dry tightly and does not need the join between the top and bottom forms. My wife is trying this case as her Dr Who case has similar problems and a bit broke off it. She says it is harder to access on/off button with this case

Here's the thing... You're over-extruding, and that is the reason for it requiring a lot of filing and a tight fit. In your slicer, increase your filament diameter to compensate. You will never get a correct fit without doing that. I'm not sure what you mean by "hollow thick walls", but the instructions say to use 100% infill and 1 total outside shell. If you don't do that then the case will be weak and could cause the tabs to break off. You could also be bending the tabs back too far (they only need to bend about 2 mm). Even if you had straight ends, you would still need to print with 100% infill and 1 total shell to get the proper strength to protect your phone.

So once you've done those two things (fixed the over-extruding and infill) then you have no reason to need a straight end version-- which is a good thing because I no longer have an iPhone 5 and I'm not motivated to make a new case for a 3 year old phone. I do provide the Solidworks CAD file for people who want to modify it themselves.

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Sep 21, 2014 - Modified Sep 21, 2014

i am just starting off in 3d printing. can you please make one of these cases for an ipod 5

I suggest you try this case instead, made to fit very nice and protect well while keeping style and comfort http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1516222

iPod 5 case Dovetail

I currently don't have an iPod Touch Gen5, and have no plans on getting one. So the quick answer is, No. Sorry!

My case was super tight, could not fully snap together and got stuck on my phone so i had to break it off. Please help. I am using a replicator 2 with the settings you have suggested. Thanks

Aug 25, 2014 - Modified Aug 25, 2014
david49152 - in reply to Nickolai67

Well, the instructions also said that some filing/sanding may be required on the dovetail joint. Before putting the case on the phone, test-fit it. You might need to hold it up to the light and see where the joint needs filing/sanding. The dovetail should be snug, but obviously not so tight it breaks when you take it apart.

In general, the farther a printer is out of adjustment the worse the fit will be. In your case, you probably have the filament diameter set to something smaller than what it actually is. This will cause the printer to extrude more filament than intended, causing things like the dovetail joints to be too big to fit together. But there is enough variation in filament diameter during a print that you will likely always have to file things down at least a little bit.

Thanks for the help! Re calibrated the makerbot and printing again. Hope this one fits well on my iPhone!

Can you post a file format that I can mod using Sketchup, can't import .sldprt or .stl? BTW I printed one and it looks/works great. I'll post a pic.

I'm glad you like it! As for Sketchup, I can't post a file since the CAD software that I am using doesn't output anything that Sketchup accepts-- or at least that I know of. Sketchup doesn't play nice with many things. I tried Sketchup about 15 months ago and gave up on it since doing objects like this iPhone case was difficult. Not impossible, just difficult and frustrating. Sorry.

how to you change to your resolution when using repetier host

Sorry, but I don't use or know Repetier. Also, this isn't the right place for that discussion anyway,

Should these print vertical or flat on their back?

It is designed to print vertical, with the disk-like things (a.k.a. mouse ears) flat on the build platform. After printing, the mouse ears break off.

This is the best case out there IMO. I don't have an IPhone 5 but I have a IPhone 4. I would greatly appreciate it is someone with Solidworks converted this to an IPhone 4.