iPhone Gear Case

by QuentinT, published

iPhone Gear Case by QuentinT Jan 4, 2013

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For my new, easier to print version check out this link: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:65810

This is an iPhone 4/4s case with moving gears on the back. It clips onto my phone perfectly with no wiggle room, and is still pretty easy to take off.

I altered the original rivets to make them easier to print, and scaled the main case a little bit for a better fit. Other than that, only part orientations have been changed.

The source files can be found at the following links.




  1. Print the main case, using support. I believe I used 1.5 mm spaced honeycomb support. I printed 0.175 mm layers with solid fill to give extra strength.

  2. Print the gears. The first number in each gear name is the number of teeth, and the final number is how many you need. Use whichever layer height works best for your printer, but I recommend single walls so that there is room for some fill, making the gears stronger. I printed them with three walls the first time and it left many spaces between the perimeters that were too small to fill.

  3. Print the rivets. I recommend using single walls, and low layer heights to give extra strength. I would also print slowly with z lift.

  4. Clean up all of the parts with an sharp knife, and some 220 grit sandpaper. Test fit all of the gears. When you're satisfied with the fit push the rivet in place.

  5. After you are completely happy with the case, make sure the rivets are pushed in securely, then flip the case over so you can see the holes for the rivets. Put a dab of thick CA glue on each rivet to make sure they don't fall out. Thinner glue may leak through and lock the gears in place.

  6. Wait for the glue to dry, then snap your phone in place and enjoy!

You need to shave a little bit of material away around the silencing slider if you have the iPhone 4s

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I love this design. I run a charity at my high school that donates toys and books to kids in need in the greater boston area. To earn some charity revenue I would like to sell 3D printed cases. A member of the charity has a 3D printer, but is at a novice level at best. Is there anyway you could help create a case with our simple logo on it? if so contact me at giveagiftbhs@gmail.com . THANKS and HOPE YOU CAN HELP ME

OK so i tried to print this on a maker bot replicator and a maker bot replicator 2 the plastic would not stay when i tried to do the main case

Can you make one of these for the Note 4?

can you make one for the iphone 6?

I turned mine over, as removing the support from the inside which is about 8mm thick was much easier and the finish is not important. The surface for the gears came out perfect.

Nice solution, I love this case. I plan on printing it in wood fill then staining it. Best Birthday present???

One question: how did you get the support material off the geared side of the case? I've just printed one and sandpaper just doesnt seem to be enough. Short of Dremelling (verb?) the hell out of it, I have no idea what to do next.

I actually used a very sharp chisel to clear out the support, but it still took a long time. To fix this I made a new case that can be printed without support. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:65810http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Improved! iPhone Gear Case with Geneva Mechanism

I don't know what you are asking? This design is 3D printable

Hi Guy's, I'm glad you're enjoying my iPhone cover design.
My iPhone 5 version is up at http://www.shapeways.com/shops/saurushttp://www.shapeways.com/shops... just for a little while before I release the model to the masses.


I have a little problem when im printing the iphones covers.
The 80% of the printing is ok, but when the printer reach the last part that is closing the upper holder lips of the case, since there is no support it falls down.

Any tips?


If you have a fan blowing on it usually it will print 1 or 2 bad layers with strings and then start to solidify. I'm about to finish designing a new version of this case that gets rid of the problem by making those lips beveled. My card holder case uses this and works great.

Oks, god idea about that!, but, if im designing a cover, should i fillet the edge of the lips so that the change o direction dosent affect to much?

Check out my new version of this case for an example. I also posted a basic case for modifying on my page using the beveled lip design.

instead of a fillet I would use a chamfer. Its a very small ledge, so you only really need enough to trick the printer into doing it in two passes instead of printing over thin air

excited for the iphone 5 version of this

This is the second case i printed, that was way too small. granted i didnt clean it out that well, it still doesnt look like it will fit at all. Replicator 2, ABS, why do i have to scale up when i print cases? iPhone 4 AT&T...

any help appreciated.

It can be because of shrinking as the print cools, or because your steps per mm are off in your firmware. My prints usually shrink between 1 and 2 percent after cooling. It would be strange for this case to be off though, because I have already scaled the original to compensate for my shrinking. Loose belts can also make your prints appear to be smaller than they should be.

I just printed a calibration block part i made, it was off 0.008" width wise and on the length which was longer it was off 0.020", still doesnt seem like enough that the cover would have shrunk as much as it did. it is cold in the room right now, i have a blanket over the top of the replicator and all the windows boarded up with plexigalss. maybe im taking the part off the build plate too soon when its finished, should i let it sit on there and cool down with the build plate? for some reason i dont usually have this issue, but this is the second time having problems and the first was also another phone case on here.

thanks for the reply QuentinT

I print ABS on a plain heated glass bed, and when a print finishes I let it cool until it pops off on its own, which means I didn't warp it with any prying. You may also want to try printing a calibration block that is much larger, as shrinkage increases with size. I have tricked my firmware into printing all of my parts 1% larger than actual, which accounts for shrinkage automatically. I did this by simply telling my firmware that there are 101 steps per mm instead of 100. Now all of my prints come out with nearly perfect dimensions. Which dimension of the case doesn't fit?

I got the replicator 2x now and it is printing a lot better. also i found that if you take the case off when its warm and stick the phone in, it will cool down and shrink around the phone for a snugger, molded fit. thanks for your help!

Is there one for iphone 5? I am a beginner and I don't really know how. If anyone has an idea for how I can do it just let me know.

It's on its way. I don't want to post it until I get a chance to print it

Cool thanks!

Hello QuentinT. Sorry to contact you this way, but I was wondering if you'd be willing to do a talk or videochat to the Freeside Atlanta hackerspace during our 3D design and Printing workshop (February 9th). You have published a very popular iPhone case and we would love to hear more about your design process. Hit me up off list if you are interested; sorry if I'm being a bother.

I sent you a message on facebook (it said it would be sent to your "other" folder)

I inverted the case and still printed with support and that gave me a smoother surface for the gears to turn on.
I also reduced the gear sizes by 1% to get them to mesh better.
axles were not very strong so I printed small 1mm thick washers with a
1.6mm hole and used small pieces of filament through them superglued in
to make strong pins. It works really well.

Can you post yours as a remix?

It interferes with the switch on the iPohne 4s

Yes, you must cut the hole a little bit bigger with an x-acto knife if you have the 4s or Verizon iPhone 4


I have problems to remove the support of the main case. Could you post the original files, so that i can modify it, and print it in 2 halfs and glue them with acetone?!

Thanks in advance

sorry I just saw this, but I actually didn't make the originals to this case, so the STLs are the best I have. If you take a look at my new case, I made all of the parts myself, and it is now printable without support. Check it out here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:65810http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Improved! iPhone Gear Case with Geneva Mechanism

Pretty cool. I would put the gears inside the case and mergeit with my steampunk case (<iframe frameborder="0" height="453" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://tinkercad.com/embed/3akv9p4v8xe?editbtn=1" width="725"></iframe>).
Maybe I will do that !

I would love to see an iPhone 5 derivative ;)

Really really stupid question... maybe i missed it in the description....

Is this for an iPhone 4 or 5? I would love to print one for my sisters phone.

iPhone 4

Got to get some Android love up in here. My Galaxy Nexus is feeling left out.

This is really cool, I would invert it and put the gears inside the case and add some more skeletal watch style windows.

I like them on the outside better because it is easier to continuously spin the gears, which is good fun. I thought about putting the gears on the inside and having the big gear surrounded by plastic and having no center axle, leaving space for you to rotate it 360 degrees, but I thought that would leave more opportunity for binding in the gears.

Did you make a plate for this? Can you upload a plate you made?

I'm making plates as we speak. I'm making two different plates, one for the rivets, one for the gears. I left the phone case by itself

Awesome! Working, now...

I would LOVE an iPhone5 version. It would be the thing I would ask Santa for, if I didn't have to wait a whole nother year to do it.

This is excellent, I must have one! Is there an iPhone 5 version?

It's on my list of things to make if nobody else gets to it first! It probably won't happen for a while though. Only the main case would need to be remade. The gears could be used as is and just reorganized.

Would the large gear need to be resized? It looks like it is nearly as wide as an iPhone 4 and may not work with the thinner iPhone 5.

It could actually stay the same. The iPhone 5 looks skinnier than the iPhone 4, but they are actually the same width. The iPhone 5 is just taller.

Please please move it up your list. I really want one!!!