iPhone4 Dovetail Case

by david49152, published

iPhone4 Dovetail Case by david49152 Mar 24, 2013
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For the iPhone5 version, go here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:59126
For an iPod Touch Gen4 version, go here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:68536

It's a case for an iPhone4. 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 printed with 1 shell and 10 % infill. Like I said I am very new to this whole thing. trying to figure out settings and all that now. What is best settings for less grainy and more strength? Thanks for reply

Well, since I don't know what printer you have, what software you are using, or how exactly it is not working there is no way I can answer that. If you are using a Makerbot printer, I recommend going to the Makerbot Operators Google Group (https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/makerbot)https://groups.google.com/foru....

first week with printer. Love this case. the fingers are breaking when trying to push two halves together. A little grainy on finish. Going to try some different settings and try again.

If they are breaking when pushing the two halves together, then you are either flexing the tabs too much, your printer is not printing correctly, or you didn't print it with 0 extra shells and 100% infill. The tabs should flex about 2 mm at the ends to put it on and take it off.

Love this idea. I think I'm going to do this and print one top/bottom in every color I'll have tons of cool color combos. I'll come back here and update on how the print went after it print it in a few days.

very nice. I will try to remix over the holidays and print laying down flat to get a nice glossy finish on the back.... may also be able to print a little faster since not printing vertically....I'll update this after it's done


It won't print nicely when flat. For starters, the lip that wraps around to the front of the phone will not print since it will be a giant overhang. The cutout for the volume buttons and dock connector will be a large bridge-- not impossible but not ideal either. Lastly, the edge where the build plate meets the sides is never perfect, and will result in more rough corners than we'd like and it will make the fit of the dovetail more difficult than it shoot.

Printing vertical makes for a more consistent finish and overall produces better results than flat. If your printer is tuned well (temp, deprime, filament diameter, speed, etc.) and printed with 0.1 mm layers then the finish isn't glossy but rather a nice satiny sheen that is attractive in it's own right.

I really like the dovetail-idea! I was thinking of a case made of two halves like this, but didnt figure out how to do the snapping in a good way, easy to print. I ended up printing my (xcover 2) case in one part out of flexible PLA. It ended up ok, but it took hours to remove the support material.

Well i don't know whats the problem buty everytime i try to load this to Repetier host it crashes...

Sorry, I can't help you. I have never used Repetier. It works great on Replicator-G feeding a Rep2 running Sailfish.