Printing an iPhone Case


I am trying to 3D print an iPhone case, however, I want it to print standing up. Is this possible to do?

I have a picture of the case in the link below.iphone case

Rishi Kavikondala

Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 49

It depends on your printer. If you have a multi-material printer with soluble support, you can just print it with the star on the base and let the support raft take care of it. – Dan Hulme – 2018-11-15T10:27:25.823



Yes this is possible. For an FDM/FFF printer, you'll need to print with supports. I might also recommend printing in PLA to minimize the chance of warping during the print (from experience).

It might also help to slow down the feedrate to ensure smooth surface finish and avoiding delamination on such small layers.

You'll probably see a decrease in the surface quality on the inside due to the printing of support scaffolding depending on the slicing engine you use.


You'll want to pay attention to the strength of the case. If you print the case upright then it will be more susceptible to breaking without post-processing.


Ultimately, if you can get away with it, it would be better to subtract the star instead of extruding it in the model. Then you can simply print the case back face down on the plate with much better results.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 6 144

2The "however"-bit is a very important addition. If printed like this on an FDM printer it will break the moment you look at it. – Tom van der Zanden – 2016-07-23T05:33:00.407

2It's important to consider, but it doesn't mean that it can't be done. I've personally printed a few [working] phone cases for myself in the past with this orientation, but I specifically designed the backing to be much thicker than a typical phone case with 3D printing in mind. – tbm0115 – 2016-07-23T18:07:45.753


Not sure if this should be an answer or a comment, but not quite enough rep to comment, so... Here's an off the wall suggestion: As an alternate approach, assuming you're using FDM printing, could you print it with the star down on the bed in more than one step?

  1. Print only the star.
  2. Put suitable material around the star that is similar to the bed or usable as a bed material, possibly filling the voids as well.
  3. Either print the rest of the case, hopefully with it adhering to the star, OR, print the rest of the case and use solvent or glue to adhere the star, (this latter step could be done with the star removed and printing directly onto the bed with the rest of the case only), OR, with the first star removed and the foreign support in place, reprint the entire case including the star - which would go into the empty space where the first star was printed and removed. The first star print then just serves to allow accurate placement of the foreign support if you need that.

I've never tried this, so I can't offer assurances. The two step print, with the first star in place and the rest of the case printed after filling the empty space probably won't work if you need a heated bed, as for ABS.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 241


Support structure & Orientation

Carefully considering this model, It would be wise to print this on the back-plane with support and then post-process the print to prevent the walls separating from the back when dropped. By activating support, the proposed orientation is however quite possible. To reduce the chance to destroy the print, one has to choose the right support material and geometry. In this case, a soluble support (PVA) would be best, but choosing a proper support structure like tree support originating from an area in front of the case reaching in, for example, generated with Meshmixer is also a very good solution. The orientation that is shown by OP actually has a very nice ability to hold onto the phone from the C-shaped cross-section. However, again this does demand some post-processing to strengthen the inter-layer bonding, preventing the case to split into an "upper" and "lower" section when dropped.

Post processing

Post-processing could take the shape of baking the part in the oven for about an hour to strengthen the inter-layer bonding. For PLA 90 to 100 °C in the oven is common, while ABS is a little higher.

ABS would allow a quick acetone vapor smoothing, which melts the outer layer lines together smoothly and as a result increases the shell stability a little - you have to let it outside to let the soaked in vapor fully evaporate afterward though and you might lose smaller details.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 15 633


You have a few options. First. I would change the design. Why not make it negative space instead? Else as the other user mentioned, glue the star on later.

Other options are, come up with a modular design so you do not print it as one piece.

From there you can do some more advanced things such as print it with the star up and use HIPS as a support material -- assuming you have a duel extruder

You could print it with normal support material, with the star up, and just accept that the left overs will scratch the phone, or spend a lot of time with some hand tools and sand paper.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 2 913


Another good tip is to add some model supports directly into the model that you can just break off. Like some wings in an X along the corners of the case. So pressure is exerted more evenly across the case as it's being built. Using a big Raft will help too.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 401


Consider printing in other planes - this model would be very suited to be printed at around a 45° angle.

You will need support beneath it, but all visible surfaces should exhibit good quality as well as being more robust than when printed upright due to layer adhesion as pointed out by other answers.


Posted 2016-07-22T22:14:11.190

Reputation: 1 059