2D Object Prototype for a Phone Stand using Rhino 3D

2D object prototyping is a medium fidelity method to create prototypes for a product. Its mid-fi attribute is due to the accurate design in the modeling software, and it is not costly since the material used is generally cheaper chipboard and the cutting speed of laser cutter is very fast.


The task was to create a smartphone stand that holds the phone for capturing videos, taking pictures, or watching movies. We decided to use Rhinoceros software to create a 2D outline of the parts of the stand since it is a popular modeling software among designers. The design will be transferred to a laser cutter which can process and cut out the desired shapes on different materials. The stand is supposed to be:

  • Stable enough to hold a phone
  • Allowing different orientation of phone placement
  • Fitting a range of phones with different dimensions
  • Having adjustable angle
  • Intuitive in its human interface

Design Process

Initial sketch

The basic design of my design is a simple assembly of board pieces that supports the phone by fixing it using the legs.

Rhino Trail One

After the sketch, I jumped right in to Rhino to create an accurate sketch.

Initial Rhino sketch

I modified the shape of the legs from triangles to a less aggressive design on the fly (remove some sharp points that may hurt users or discourage them to use).

After the sketch, I immediately used mat board to cut out the initial testing model. But for the first time, I positioned the model file to close to the edge of the board and the laser accidentally cut the metal ruler on the side, powerful!

First run, cut the ruler.

I repositioned the canvas, and ran the cutting process again. This time is perfect, seems legit.

Second run, perfect!
Result of the initial design
Top and front view of the assembly

I discovered that this triangular structure is actually not stable at all, the phone will shake if I press the shutter button on the screen, resulting my picture to be blurry.

Example shot with the initial design, blurry!

This is generally due to the softness of the material and the miscalculated allowance of the gap between legs. In order to fix it, I picked up the extra legs from he first failed run and tried if six legs is better than three. Magic happened and it became more stable and holds the phone tighter!

Quick modified 6-leg version, more stable.

Rhino Trial Two

I proceeded to improve my design in Rhino after playing around with the first mockup. I made another design sketch.

Some details on the redesigned model

Some improvements I made were:

  • A double-lock system to stabilize the assembly both vertically and horizontally.
  • A recalculated allowance for the phone to move slightly among the gaps of the legs.
  • Added text on the circular tray.
  • Repositioned shape distribution that saves material.
Final Rhino sketch
Official dimension of an Apple iPhone 6

The recalculated distance of gaps between legs was based on the official iPhone 6 specification. It holds the phone steadily and allows some angle changes.

Double-Lock assembly system

The double-lock assembly mechanism is the presence of slots on both the tray and the legs, so that the legs can be stably attached to the tray and can not be moved horizontally or vertically.


Final Deliverable

I was pretty confident with my design this time. I sent the file to the dropbox and executed my final cutting process.

Final run of the cutting process
Assembled model, final version

User Testing

I love the simple design, I can immediately figure out how to use it.
Clever thought on using the legs to hold the phone.
Nice finish, I cannot even find the joints.
Maybe adjustable height in the future?
The legs are sometimes blocking the viewfinder and the shutter button.
It is still shaking a little bit.
I cannot change the angle drastically.
Support for other phones? (Actually it fits a lot of phones that I have tested, surprisingly.)
Can your phone work the other way? (It can! Not comfortable to use though.)