Modder shows how to 3D-print new AirPods case (and add USB-C)


Ken Pillonel put a USB-C port in an AirPods charging case.
Ken Pillonel put a USB-C port in an AirPods charging case.
Photo: Ken Pillonel

The guy who brought us the world’s first USB-C iPhone (and sold it for $86,001 on eBay) is now training his soldering pen on the AirPods charging case.

Engineering and robotics student Ken Pillonel put out a new video addressing AirPods’ repairability problem — they’re made to be replaced, not repaired. He demonstrated how he 3D-printed a new case and swapped the Lightning port for USB-C.

How to 3D-print a new AirPods charging case with USB-C

When Pillonel’s AirPods case stopped charging, he couldn’t get into the device without damaging it. Apple offered no advice on how to make a repair, he said. (The company just recommends replacing the charging case.)

So Pillonel, the guy who first put a USB-C port in an iPhone — well ahead of Europe’s demand along those lines — is giving AirPods cases a similar treatment. And he wants you to know how to do it.

Pillonel first modded an AirPods case in May. Now he has created a 3D-printed replacement case, which is available for download. It lets you damage your existing case on purpose, to gain access to the internals to make repairs and remove the battery.

Pillonel’s mod also successfully swapped the charging case’s Lightning port for a standard USB-C port. Lightning ports for AirPods can’t be purchased individually. You can only get them from other AirPods charging cases.

Watch Pillonel’s video:

Get the files you need for this DIY AirPods case fix

Pillonel made the 3D-printing files and PCB files for AirPods repairability available for free on his website. He might sell kits in the future, depending on demand.

Impending EU legislation will force Apple to switch AirPods to USB-C by late 2024. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple could make the change sometime after releasing the first iPhone models with a USB-C port next year.

Earlier this year, Apple launched its Self Service Repair program to address criticisms about the repairability of its devices.


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