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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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 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.