Apr. 10, 2015 | By Simon

As often as we use our smartphones these days for everything from checking the weather and our emails to instant messaging and catching up on the latest sports scores, it should come with little surprise that battery life can be a serious issue if one hasn’t established a regular charging ritual.  While it may not be the case for everybody, being stuck somewhere with a dead phone can certainly hinder an experience if communication is necessary.  So what’s one to do?

For Instructables user ‘hobbyman’, making sure his (and his girlfriend’s) phones were always charged came in the form of a project that he recently did that was created using a 3D printer and some simple electrical engineering skills.

“As the functions of cell phones have increased astronomically, so has their power requirements,” said hobbyman.  “Nowadays, a phone which is purchased new can hardly stand working for 1-2 days and (its) endurance even decreases as the battery inside wears down as it gets older. So many people are buying and using battery power packs.”

Although hobbyman recognizes that power packs already exist and can be purchased, he decided to have a go at creating his own since he had the parts laying around anyways.

To begin, he started by researching the market of available products for inspiration.


“I looked at the ones already designed and built, being sold on ebay. Saw that lots of them are very similar to each other. When the quick search is complete, I did some sketches and decided on a boxy rectangular shape, with rounded corners.”

With the design inspiration complete, he planned to have have the rectangular shape be made from two main body parts that were capable of snapping together to lock the assembly in place without the need for additional fasteners such as screws or glue.  

As for the internal components - which were already on-hand but can be found easily online - all that was needed was a battery, a battery charging module, a switch, battery contacts and a USB power regulator module (0.9-5v to 5v 600mA).  

Once the parts were sourced, hobbyman began the process of modeling them in SolidWorks to determine how they would fit together within the rectangular housing design that he had previously developed.  In addition to creating the exterior housing, he also modeled an interior support tray to attach the interior elements as well.  

Once all of the housing components and supports had been modeled, it was time to send them to the 3D printer.

To print the parts, hobbyman used an UP 3D printer and the process took around five hours and used 40 grams of ABS filament.  In order to ensure that the LED green/red power indicator light could be seen without holes in the housing, he used a semi-transparent filament.    

Finally, all of the parts were assembled and the unit was tested.  After plugging a phone in, the charger was able to charge one dead phone back to a full charge while also having enough power to charge another one to nearly 50%.  Not bad for some spare parts laying around a half-day of 3D printing!

For full instructions, downloadable STL files and links to purchase your own supplies, head over to the Instructables project page.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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