Designing & 3D Printing a Cell Phone Holder for My Car

Earlier this month I purchased a brand new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited. The car is awesome and a major improvement over my 2013 Subaru Legacy. This only minor inconvenience is that there isn’t a good spot for my iPhone when using Apple CarPlay. To address this issue I’ve decided to try to design and 3D print a custom made cell phone holder for my new car.


Part 1 Video

Background Information

When I picked up my car from the dealership, I brought one of the many Apple Lightning Cables floating around my house with me. I noticed that there wasn’t a good place for the phone when driving while was plugged in. I’m not going to lie this is a very very very small issue. But I thought to myself “Everyone says 3D printing is cheap” So I figured lets try to design something.

Challenge Accepted!

I started looking into how to start designing 3D models and in short order I found TinkerCAD. This is Autodesk’s free web based cad solution to get you hooked on 3D Design/Printing. In one short training session during lunch I was able to complete the training for the software and I was off and running on the tool. After 3 nights of working on the model for 1-2 hours i got the first version created and ready to be printed.

First Version

The teal piece is the main unit that will sit in my center console and act as a dock for my phone. I purchased a right angle lightning cable for this build. The lightning end of the cable will be in the orange pieces that will sit inside the main piece and held together by the orange dowels. Since that section will get the most wear and tear I didn’t want to try and design a form inside the main piece (at least on my first attempt 😉 ). That is why it’s separate.

Once the model was complete I started looking for a company to print it. I tried Print a Thing and iMaterialize first and then i saw the printing ranged from $78-$2000. Then I found treatstock. which have vendors willing to do it for $20-$30. My game plan is to print this model as cheap as possible to verify that all the measurements are good. Then i’ll order the print again in a higher quality.

Current the vendor on Treatstock is printing the item. Once it’s in I’ll update this post.

-Terry Sheridan