Nokia has opened its arms to 3-D printing with the release of printable design files and instructions for making your own Nokia phone case — and customizing it however you wish.
The mobile phone giant announced the new endeavor today, which gives Creative Commons-licensed access to the printable files for the Lumia 820′s shell. It’s the largest affirmation of 3-D printing by a major corporation thus far, bringing the world of on-demand product generation and customization one step closer to the desktops of consumers worldwide. That is, to the desktops of those who have printers so far.
In Nokia’s Conversations blog, community and development marketing manager John Kneelanddiscusses the launch of the project. “We are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices—everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case,” he explains. “We refer to these files and documents collectively as a 3D-printing Development Kit, or 3DK for short.”
The files, in standard 3-D printer formats, are available on the site in three versions of the rendering: two STL options and one in STP. The company also launched a 3-D printing Wiki with material and software suggestions, and possible projects that consumers could design into these CAD files, such as built-in SIM card holders and bike mounts.
There may be more to come from Nokia in this space as well. “In the future, I envision wildly more modular and customizable phones,” Kneeland says. “Perhaps in addition to our own beautifully designed phones, we could sell some kind of phone template, and entrepreneurs the world over could build a local business on building phones precisely tailored to the needs of his or her local community.”
While the printing community has large libraries of user-generated, printable files hosted on sites likeShapeways and Thingiverse, there has been little corporate involvement in the arena.
Last year, Swedish synthesizer manufacturer Teenage Engineering released the design files for replacement knobs and dials for its popular OP-1 synth keyboard, sharing their designs through Shapeways. And while companies like Apple release the design specifications for its products to third-party case makers, no companies of Nokia’s stature have launched a 3-D printing initiative with the actual CAD files for their products.
Nokia’s project could lead to other manufacturers following suit, from car manufacturers to sporting good makers to anything in between. And while there will undoubtedly be discussion about piracy, some feel that offering the files for simple products like cases and knobs is beneficial to a company by moving a low-revenue product out of their supply chain and into the hands of the consumer.
I’l post something on 3D printing technology anytime soon….