Do you own an expensive phone, gadget or camera and can’t find a case? That’s a common problem nowadays with the huge variety of gizmos on the market. Fortunately, you can craft your own protective gear from relatively inexpensive and simple materials.
I found four design styles for creating your own case using Sugru, a Flubber-like substance. The four styles: Adding a full bumper, bumper nubs, zebra stripes and an artistic design. Of the four, I went with using a full bumper – this turned out to be a mistake. And my craft skills suck.
You don’t have to use Sugru. You can construct cases from almost any substance. Rubber, though, makes for a more shock absorbent material than, say, a 3D-printed case. When it comes to protecting your devices, there are three primary standouts:
- Sugru: Sugru is an air-curing rubber substance, which can mold into any shape. It’s also shock-absorbing, making it perfect for treating delicate electronics. On the downside, it lasts only six months inside its packaging (if unrefrigerated) before becoming unusable. It’s also relatively expensive.
- Polycaprolactone: Polycaprolactone is produced by a variety of brand names, including Instamorph. It is a heat sensitive, remoldable plastic. While it takes a great deal more effort to prepare, polycaprolactone’s long shelf-life, cost and reusability make it a close competitor to Sugru.
- Silicon rubber: It’s also possible to mold your own cases and protective gear using silicon rubber – however, this requires the use of molds and a great deal of skill.
The Full Bumper
This is the method that I used – inadequately I might add – to create a bumper for my father’s Blu Dash 4.5. Blu Products produced the Dash in relatively small numbers, meaning no case is forthcoming. Rather than risking a fatal accident, I picked up a package of Sugru and got started.
I created my bumper taking the following steps from the Sugru website:
- First, after opening its package, knead the Sugru substance for a minute and a half. This will strengthen the substance. You will need about 20-30 grams, according to these instructions.
- Second, cover the phone in plastic wrap (saran wrap), adhering it in place using tape.
- Third, measure the distance around the case.
- Fourth, roll the Sugru into a thin cord, the same distance as the length around your case.
- Fifth, wrap the cord around the phone, making sure to press it into the sides of the case. A close fit will help keep the bumper adhered to your phone.
The final product came out looking amateurish and poorly formed.
Another issue is that my phone’s power button, volume rocker, microphone and USB got covered up by the Sugru and there’s not enough room to cut holes. On the plus side, I can easily remove the bumper and access the phone’s battery and ports. Overall, it offers decent protection, but I would prefer a specialized case.
For reference, this is what the tutorial’s bumper looked like:
And this is what mine looks like:
The Artistic Case
Flickr user Pauric‘s iPhone case is easily among the most sophisticated and beautiful, makeshift or commercially produced. He wraps several different colors of Sugru around his smartphone, resulting in a flame-like pattern. Additionally, he adds a reinforced rubber case for drop protection.
While this particular style of case appealed to me because it enhanced the phone’s grip, it requires a great deal of skill to pull off. Also, in terms of the cost, it can cost a bit more than the alternatives. However, this is the sort of eye-catching case that make you the envy of your friends.
The Sugru Nub Bumpers
This is the easiest to make out of all the available options. Just take four pieces of Sugru, make little bumpers out of them. The placement covers all four corners of a smartphone, protecting it from drops onto flat surfaces, such as concrete.
On the downside, it won’t protect from falls onto uneven surfaces. Also, the little nubs have a tendency to come off, under pressure – such as sliding the phone out of your pocket.
Sugru and polycaprolactone will stick to plastic if molded against it and air-cured. Some of the more handy designs are a striping pattern, which help protect the phone by giving it better grip and impact protection. On the other hand, coating your device in Sugru costs money.
For smartphones without cases, it’s easy creating your own. While all of these examples use Sugru, you can substitute the cheaper polycaprolactone for most of these recipes. And if you can access molding, you can even use liquid silicone.
Does anyone else love building their own smartphone cases? Please share in the comments.