Creating a Medium Fidelity 3D-Printed Prototype for a In-Car iPhone 6 Mount

3D printing offers prototypers a new way to prototype rapidly. Its basic mechanism is creating a based using PLA material and adding material layer by layer on top of the base. The PLA material this method uses is usually inexpensive while keeping the fedelity of the product relatively high, which encourages prototypers to design and make more modifications. I decided to use Rhinoceros 3D software to create an in-car mount for iPhone 6 (which I lost in my San Jose trip during the break), and print it using the 3D printer.

Requirement

There are some criteria for the creation, the part should include:

  • Extrusion
  • Revolution
  • Boolean difference/union of subparts

Idea

I wanted to make a replicate of the holder I previously used. The one I owned was a KENU Airframe Portable Car Vent Mount for iPhone and it allowed different sizes of iPhones. However that requires me to create two parts and some mechanism involves with rubber bands to allow adjustability. Since I only have an iPhone 6, I decided to make it unadjustable and only support iPhone 6.

The original mount by KENU allows making adjustments on the width.

Instead of using the official dimensions of the iPhone 6, I measured the dimension of my phone with a case because it would be frustrating to take off the case every time I use it. The height was measured to be 9.75mm and the height was 70.00mm.

I then jumped into Rhino and started creating 3D objects. Extrusions are major components of this part. Including its back and the grips. Revolution is in the truncated cone shaped clip that attaches the mount to the car. It was then cut by two mirrored cuboids and made to a cross shaped holding mechanism. The distance of the gaps between the four corners of the cut-cone is 3.00mm, which is the width of the leaves in the vent of my car.

The final design displayed in Rhinoceros 3D

Deliverable

Printing process

The printing time was 42 minutes and the final product weighs approximately 9 grams.

A snapshot during printing

Quality of the product

After the print job, I discovered that the supportive base was strongly attached to my actual model. I used pliers and knife to fully remove it. Another problem was that the 3 mm gaps were so thin that some of the printing material slipped inside them. I used knife to cut them out but did some damage accidentally. Therefore the finished product was not very perfect.

Tools used to remove the supportive base

Dimension problem

Since I measured the dimensions accurately, my phone could fit inside it. However my measurements were too precise that the phone was actually sliding inside the mount. I should have kept in mind that my case was made of silicon and my model could actually press it in order to make the phone snug.

Different views of the final product

User testing

Due to the dimension problem, the mount cannot perfectly hold the phone in the car, especially when there are turbulences during the drive. The damaged gaps also make the attachment between the vent and the mount loose. Some users have also reflected that the edges were to sharp to handle.

Actual mounted-in-car image

Future improvements

  • Adjust the width so the mount holds the phone tightly.
  • Adjust the printing direction so the gaps will not contain debris.
  • Make it two parts so it fits different phones widths, also solves the existing dimension problem.
  • Add more fillets to the edges to make it more comfortable to use.
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