Not long ago, Autodesk announced they were purchasing a company called Tinkercad. Tinkercad is basically an online web-based CAD (Computer Aided Design) tool that lets you create virtual versions of what could, eventually, be a real-world object. Most things that you own were probably created or prototyped as a CAD before being created.
I’ve been looking for a good desktop dock for my Nexus 4 for a while, so I figured I’d check out Tinkercad and design one for myself. I have a few requirements, though – I recently purchased an LG WCP-300 wireless charging pad, and it works great, but unfortunately, it’s flat. I wanted a solution that would allow me to prop my phone up.
I did some rough measurements and calculations on paper, but otherwise, I used Tinkercad over about an hour to design the stand below. It’s a first step – it doesn’t currently have anything to actually make it stand up, but that’s easy enough to add back in later.
The key to the design was a hole that I could pop the WCP-300 into, with a slot for the USB cord. Also, because the charging pad in my Nexus 4 is closer to the bottom of the phone, I needed to a find a design solution that would allow me to use this stand in either portrait or landscape mode. This was kind of tricky, but I figured out I could just put a few pieces on either side that would hold the phone in landscape but not interfere in portrait mode.
From Tinkercad, I was pleased to see that I had the option to send my design to one of four different online-based 3D printers, or I could just upload the file to Thingiverse, to print on a MakerBot (if I had one) or other at-home 3D printer. We have a 3D printer at work that I’m trying to get access to, so I may have an update to this later.
I was really impressed with Tinkercad, though. It’s a bit limited, but for a basic project like mine, it was perfect. I was even able to share the design, and it’s been downloaded 5 times as of this writing from Thingiverse.
If you have a 3D printer and a Nexus 4, I’d definitely encourage you to try to print it and see how it turns out. I’d be interested to know. Here’s the file on Tinkercad, and here’s my Thingiverse link.
From my brain to design in an hour, and printing took 8 hours with a MakerBot Replicator. Not bad. I’ll have a chance to actually fit the WCP-300 into it and test it out, but that’s pretty impressive – 9 hours from idea to product.