Best 3D Printer & Filament for Phone Cases


If you are looking to 3D print phone cases, you’ll want to know what 3D printer to use and the best filament to make it out of. This article will take you through some of the best 3D printers you can get to create some 3D-printed phone cases efficiently.

In addition, we’ll also recommend some top-notch filaments you can use to bring your fun phone case designs to life, as well as some high level techniques. Let’s go through them.

Best 3D Printer for Phone Cases

The first step in your journey to print phone cases involves getting a 3D printer. There are so many printers on the market, so you have to ensure you get a reliable brand to get the best results.

Here are some great 3D printer choices for printing phone cases.

Ender 3 V2

Ender 3 printers are the kings of the budget 3D printer market and for a good reason. They combine affordable prices with good performance and top-of-the-line modularity.

So, whether you’re looking for a simple machine for printing phone cases or you’re looking to set up a printer farm for your business, the Ender 3 V2 is one of your best options. Let’s take a look at what it offers.

Features of the Ender 3 V2

  • Open Build Space
  • Carborundum Glass Platform
  • High-Quality Meanwell Power Supply
  • 3-Inch LCD Color Screen
  • XY-Axis Tensioners
  • Built-In Storage Compartment
  • New Silent Motherboard
  • Fully Upgraded Hotend & Fan Duct
  • Smart Filament Run Out Detection
  • Effortless Filament Feeding
  • Print Resume Capabilities
  • Quick-Heating Hot Bed

Specifications of the Ender 3 V2

  • Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 180mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 255°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: MicroSD Card, USB.
  • Bed Levelling: Manual
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, TPU, PETG, ABS

The Ender 3 V2 is a 3D printer kit, which means it comes with some basic assembly required. However, this also plays to your advantage as you can modify and replace its components relatively easily.

The Ender 3 V2 has a pretty spacious open build volume with a Carborundum glass bed. To put this in perspective, you can print about three iPhone 13 Pro max cases simultaneously on that bed.

For example, you can check out this large iPhone 13 case a user printed on his Ender 3 bed. With a bit of proper arrangement in the slicer, they can fit about three of these cases on the bed for more efficient printing.

However, you should turn on Z-hop if you intend to print multiple cases on the bed. This will help to avoid nozzle collisions and failed prints.

The bed is also heated, making it suitable for printing materials prone to warping. So, you can print your phone cases out of materials like ABS, PLA, and PETG.

Check out how this YouTuber prints a TPU case with an Ender 3!

For this material, the YouTuber had to upgrade the stock Bowden extruder to a Direct Drive extruder.

You can still use the stock extruder to print phone cases out of TPU.

For example, this Redditor got this TPU phone case print from a stock Bowden extruder. However, it took some effort and failed prints because, according to them, they were using a 0.1mm layer height which jammed up the printer.

TPU iPhone case on a stock Ender 3! from ender3

After some tweaks and adjustments, they were able to get the printer to produce clean TPU prints. Also, they recommend using no Retraction and at least a 95A shore hardness TPU filament with the stock Bowden extruder.

So, as you can see, in this situation, a direct drive extruder just works so much better.

The Creality Ender 3 Direct Drive Upgrade Kit from Amazon is a great choice to get that changed over. It supports your standard 1.75mm filament and one user described it as super easy to install on their Ender 3 V2 and has them printing TPU at 80mm/s with outstanding print quality.

You can also get the MicroSwiss Direct Drive Extruder from Amazon, a more premium upgrade.

It’s not directly compatible with the Ender 3 V2 so you’ll need to 3D print this fan shroud to fit it on. Once that’s done, this all-metal hotend should make 3D printing TPU a better experience.

According to most users, it’s also very easy to install on your Ender 3. One user has been using it for over 1,000 hours and said it has been printing very well, good as new. However, you do have to be careful when installing it, to avoid the right side of your gantry dropping down.

Also, you might have to print slower due to the extra weight on the gantry.

You can also print Nylon on the Ender 3, but it’s advised to change the nozzle. The stock nozzle can handle materials like TPU and PETG just fine, but you want to switch to an All-metal extruder to print phone cases from materials like Nylon.

However, the stock nozzle still produces pretty decent prints like this multicolor phone case that a Redditor printed. They used a pretty ingenious method to create a beautiful phone case.

I printed my own phone case. Printed on an Ender 3 with a single nozzle. from 3Dprinting

They first separated the G-Code for the green and the black parts in Cura using the method in the video below. They then printed the G-Codes one after the other, switching filament colors in between prints.

To see the technique visually, check out the video below.

Some users in the comment also recommend finishing the surface with a thin coat of epoxy for a smoother surface.

Under the Ender 3 V2 hood, we have a Meanwell power supply and a silent 32-bit motherboard running the show. It also offers filament runout detection and print resume capabilities to help you manage unscheduled stops.

Finally, the defining feature of the Ender 3 V2 upgrade is the new display. You get a color LCD with MicroSD and USB ports making it easier to manage your prints.

Pros of the Ender 3 V2

  • Easy to use for beginners, giving out high performance and much enjoyment
  • Relatively cheap and great value for money
  • Great support community.
  • The design and structure look very aesthetically pleasing
  • High precision printing
  • 5 minutes to heat up
  • An all-metal body gives stability and durability
  • Easy to assemble and maintain
  • The power supply is integrated underneath the build-plate, unlike the Ender 3
  • It is modular and easy to customize

Cons of the Ender 3 V2

  • A bit difficult to assemble
  • Open build space is not ideal for minors
  • Only one motor on the Z-axis
  • Glass beds do tend to be heavier, so it may lead to ringing in prints
  • No touchscreen interface like some other modern printers

Final Thoughts

The Ender 3 V2 is a pretty superb, low-cost workhorse for many 3D printing tasks apart from printing phone cases. It also has the added benefit of being a modular beast that you can upgrade depending on your needs.

However, it can be pretty hard to set it up and obtain great prints from it consistently because of the manual bed leveling. If you can look past these issues, then the Ender 3 V2 is the right printer for you.

Get yourself the Ender 3 V2 from Amazon for your 3D printed phone cases.

Anycubic Kobra

The Anycubic Kobra (Amazon) is a promising newer printer, giving Ender printers some much-needed competition. It brings newer, updated features like automatic bed leveling and more reliable performance to shake up the budget market.

If you’re a beginner looking to get started by 3D printing phone cases, the Kobra is a good printer to start with.

Let’s look at its features.

Features of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Automatic Bed Leveling
  • Flexible, Magnetic PEI Coated Print Bed
  • Direct Drive Extruder
  • 3-Inch Color LCD Touchscreen
  • Silent Trinamic Stepper Drivers
  • Sensorless Bed Homing
  • Volcano Hotend
  • Ultra-Portable Lightweight Frame
  • X, Y-axis Belt Tensioners
  • Print Resume after Power Cuts

Specifications of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Build Volume: 222 x 222 x 252mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 180mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 260°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 110°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: MicroSD Card, USB.
  • Bed Levelling: Automatic Bed Leveling
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG

The Anycubic Kobra is an example of the modern printers we hope will become a current mainstay of the budget price range. Although it shares some similarities with the Ender 3 V2, its newer tech and automatic bed leveling put it a step above.

Although it’s a kit printer, assembling the Anycubic Kobra is very easy. Most parts are proprietary and come pre-assembled, so you just have to connect them.

However, the flip side of this is that you cannot easily modify or upgrade parts like the hotend. To counter this, it comes with a direct drive extruder that easily handles filaments like TPU.

The extruder isn’t full metal though, some parts are made out of plastic. However, you can print phone cases from a wide range of materials relatively easily. It also has a heated bed for printing filaments like ABS, PETG, etc.

Using this, the Anycubic Kobra manages to produce some pretty decent prints. Here are some examples of what the printer is capable of printing with PLA filament.

As a plus, it also has a print resume function that picks up where the printer stopped after power outages.

To cut costs, the Kobra uses plastic mixed with traditional aluminum extrusions in its frame. However, this has no effect on prints as your phone cases will come out decently without any ringing or ghosting.

The Kobra’s heated build plate is slightly wider than the Ender 3 V2’s, making it suitable for printing multiple phone cases. It’s also made of flexible metal, so you can easily pop thin prints like phone cases off without any issues.

The Kobra offers decent printing performance and features, but what really makes it stand out is its automatic bed leveling. Using this, you can save yourself the hassle of constantly having to adjust the bed between prints.

It also has a fun interactive UI on its touchscreen to make controlling the printer easier. As a result, this printer is far more beginner-friendly and feature-filled than most on the market.

Pros of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Offers automatic bed leveling
  • The PEI print bed produces easy-to-remove prints with a nice, textured bottom finish.
  • Easy to assemble
  • Touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Plastic frame can feel a bit cheap
  • Doesn’t have a filament runout sensor
  • There is only one Z-axis motor
  • Most of its parts are proprietary, so you can’t upgrade them

Final Thoughts

With the Anycubic Kobra, you get exactly what you paid for and a little more. It’s a budget printer that provides good value for your money, and it’s quite a good option for beginners.

So, if you’re looking for a machine that you can print phone cases with easily, you should give the Anycubic Kobra a shot.

Best Filament for 3D Printed Phone Cases

Getting the right filament is extremely important when 3D printing phone cases. Each filament material has different physical properties that influence how the phone case will perform and even its aesthetics.

So, you should take quite a bit of time to research and get to know the filaments you’ll be using. Here are a few top filaments you can use to 3D print phone cases.

  • PLA+/PLA Pro
  • PETG
  • TPU
  • Nylon

PLA+ / PLA Pro

PLA+ is a supercharged version of the popular biodegradable PLA. Thanks to chemical additives, PLA+ provides additional properties that cover up for the weaknesses in traditional PLA.

For example, a common complaint about PLA cases is that they are brittle and break easily. PLA+ solves this problem because it is more flexible and has a higher shear and tensile strength than PLA.

As a result, cases made with PLA plus are more impact and heat-resistant than their PLA counterparts. They also have a better surface finish than regular PLA filaments.

For example, look at the phone cases this YouTuber made using PLA pro filaments.

The phone cases he made were strong and had good surfaces. However, he did struggle a bit with dimensional accuracy and a bit of stringing.

You can also check out this outstanding TPU and PLA combo phone case.

When buying PLA+, you should note that the filament’s properties vary across manufacturers. So, you should check the filament’s specifications before making a purchase.

One of my favorite PLA+ brands is the eSUN PLA+ Filament. It produces strong phone cases with a high-quality glossy finish.

Several users have commented on how easy it is to print with. It is also quite warp-resistant, meaning it can withstand more direct sunlight than traditional PLA.

PETG

PETG is another top filament you can use in making phone cases, thanks to its impressive properties. PETG filaments boast high impact strength, high-quality surface finishes and are easy to print.

All these exceptional properties should make for excellent, long-lasting phone cases. The impact strength of the case will protect the phone better in the event of drops, while the smooth surface finish will add to your phone’s beauty.

Additionally, some PETG filaments are also transparent so that you can make nice transparent phone cases out of them. Finally, it is heat and UV-resistant, meaning it won’t warp, deform, or yellow when placed in the sunlight.

One particular trend among hobbyists is to use the TPU and PETG combo. One Redditor made a beautiful phone case out of gray PETG and orange TPU.

Custom designed cell phone case Orange PETG outer shell, grey TPU inner shell from 3Dprinting

They printed both parts of the case separately and assembled them after. The TPU section offers impact protection, while the PETG shell clamps it to the phone.

Another great example of the combo are these Samsung phone cases. Here, the Redditor used PETG as the back shell to give more strength to the relatively soft TPU.

They printed both parts of the case pausing the print and switching the filament to TPU after the PETG shell was done printing.

I found that PETG and TPU makes a perfect blend for phone cases. from prusa3d

You can also see a better example of this technique in this rugged black and gray case. Here, the case’s owner used the multiple STL file method I mentioned earlier.

They separated the G-Code of both parts of the G-Code and printed them on the same bed with different filaments.

Composite phone case (black PETG, grey TPU) from 3Dprinting

You can start printing a PETG phone case with a spool of Hatchbox PETG Filament. It is incredibly strong, comes in many colors, and is highly durable.

In fact, one user has said he uses it when printing parts for use in industrial settings. That’s a big testament to the strength of this material.

TPU

TPU has one major perk going for it when it comes to printing phone cases, flexibility. You can use this filament to print flexible cases that fit your smartphone snugly.

Apart from their flexibility, cases made from TPU are also abrasion and chemical resistant.  They also provide excellent protection against drops due to their soft structure absorbing impact shocks.

Additionally, depending on how dialed in your print settings are, they can even offer a measure of waterproof protection.

When it comes to TPU cases, most people usually recommend buying filament from one company, Ninatek. They produce two great filaments you can use in printing phone cases, Cheetah and NinjaTek.

Check out this video of a YouTuber printing a soft-shell case with Cheetah TPU.

Both are great options that offer significant impact protection to your phone. However, the Cheetah filament is slightly stronger and more flexible than the NinjaFlex filament.

Note: TPU users recommend keeping the filament in a dry environment to avoid the filament soaking up moisture.

Nylon

If you’re looking to create high-grade, extremely durable phone cases, Nylon is one of the best choices. It is a very tough material with high impact resistance, meaning it fares exceptionally well against drops and scratches.

Unlike other tough materials, Nylon is also quite flexible. Apart from phone cases, you can also use it to print high-performance parts that will perform reliably.

However, printing some brands of Nylon filament can be difficult. It requires a high printing temperature with a constant temperature environment via a printing enclosure.

Stock hotends on printers like the Ender 3 and Anycubic Kobra can’t provide this, so you might have to upgrade to an all-metal hotend. However, some brands of low-temp Nylon filaments can print just fine on these printers.

The only downside is that these filaments cost higher than regular filaments.

An affordable brand of Nylon filament you can use in printing phone cases is Overture Nylon. It produces strong, temperature-stable parts, and it’s relatively easy to print phone cases with.

The only downside is that it is available in only black color.

Special Filament

Apart from the standard 3D printing filaments we’re all used to, you can also make phone cases with some special filaments. You can use these filaments to bring your vibrant, creative designs to life.

A notable example of this is this Overture Glow In The Dark filament.

You can also print wooden phone cases with this Hatchbox Wood Filament.

So, those are all the tools you need to start printing phone cases successfully. If you need help finding and designing 3D models for your phone case, you can check out this article on How To Make 3D Printed Phone Cases.

Good Luck and happy printing!

Recent Posts

3D Printerly