Step 1: Materials:
- 3D Printer. If you don't have one, you can have the prints made for you with sites like 3D Hubs or Shapeways
- Local resources: maker spaces and local libraries
- E6000 Adhesive to allow 3D printing in 2 separate colors for combining them together
Step 2: Measuring
The phone used for the initial prototype was an aging flip phone. This phone had the benefit of being small, light, and easy to handle. The author first determined what needed to be translated into the new case so that a larger phone could effectively be used in the same way. It was decided that the size of the piece being grasped needed to stay the same. The author took rough measurements to translate it into a 3D object.
Step 3: Design
The author found a .stl file of a phone case that would fit (in this case an iPhone 5). The case was modified to accommodate the phone and allow an appropriate size handle that replicated the old flip phone's size. The author began by creating the rough shape in tinkercad, and rounding the edges.
Step 4: Print
The author printed the case first and tested the fit of the phone. Once the size was determined, the handle was printed separately. The first version tested worked well, but the shape looked pretty clunky and the top corner of the handle obstructed part of the camera. It was determined that the case printed had a hole for the apple logo right where the author wanted the handle to attach. The case was slightly modified to fill the hole in the next version. After the case was printed, the author printed the handle attachment and used E6000 to bond the pieces together.
Step 5: Field Test
The most rewarding part of this process is putting the prototype into someone's hands and watching it being used. It proved to be successful almost immediately. Within minutes it was evident that it was possible to browse the web, show the phone to other people, and even take photos horizontally.
Step 6: Modify
After the testing, the author made some modifications to the dimensions of the handle so it would not block the camera, and added a lanyard hole, making sure to place it in a way where the lanyard would not block the camera. The author also redesigned the original shape to have more rounded corners and a more aesthetic shape. Then the author printed the case in it's requested green and did the handle in glow in the dark
Step 7: Finally
This case ended up being successful. It allowed the user to use a smartphone who otherwise wouldn't be able to use it. The author has included the stl files for the iPhone 5 case and the handle. You don't necessarily need to 3D print the case. E6000 seems to be working well as an adhesive, however just be mindful of where your camera is. The author is also considering adding some Plasti-Dip to the handle to increase the grip even more.