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3D print-your-own Nokia Lumia 820 case

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Nokia has released 3D templates and specifications for people to print their own case for a Lumia 820 smartphone.

The Finnish mobile giant said that it wants to get behind 3D printing technology, as it has the potential to "utterly transform our lives".

Nokia Lumia 820 smartphone

© Nokia



John Kneeland, a Silicon Valley-based Nokia community & developer marketing manager, told the Nokia Conversations blog that the firm has released "everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case".

This includes 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices. Combined, they are known as the 3D-printing Development Kit, or 3DK for short, and can be downloaded from here, here and here.

Nokia has been quick to get behind the emerging 3D printing technology, which involves sending a design file to a special printer that can form a solid version of the object in layers of plastic.

Early 3D printers could only create white objects, but newer models can form multi-coloured and more detailed objects.

Kneeland manages Nokia's 'Lumia 820 3D printing community project', an initiative enabling users to customise their 820 with special 3D printed shells, such as "ruggedized shells" with extra shock and dust protection, and shells that add the wireless charging capability found in the top-end Lumia 920.

"In doing this, Nokia has become the first major phone company to begin embracing the 3D printing community and its incredible potential, and continue to be the leading phone company in this exciting field," he said.

"I view this as the spiritual successor to the great granddaddy of customisable phones, the Nokia 5110 and its rainbow collection of removable faceplates. To think, it's been 15 years since the 5110 launched!"

Nokia Lumia 620 budget WP8 handset

© Nokia

Nokia Lumia 920

© Digital Spy



Kneeland said that Nokia is also using 3D printing internally for "rapid prototyping" of new phones. This is part of chief executive Stephen Elop's goal of ''increasing the clock speed at Nokia'.

The firm once dominated the mobile phone industry, but in recent years has been eclipsed by Apple and Samsung.

But 3D printing is an area that Nokia can really innovate, and Kneeland said that he can envision a future of "more modular and customisable phones".

"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," he suggested.

"You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger? Someone can build it for you - or you can print it yourself!

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Kneeland said that the "hype is justified" with 3D printing, and even suggested that it was "the sequel to the Industrial Revolution".

However, he admitted that it may take some time before the "bleeding-edge" technology becomes more widely available.

"When I first saw 3D printing in action, I felt how I imagine people felt when they saw the very first steam engines," he said.

"The earliest examples of steam engines were incredibly expensive, finicky, and quite limited in what they could actually do - and if products had warranties back then, bolting a steam engine onto something would surely void it!

"But in those unwieldy contraptions, some saw the potential to change everything. Every great invention starts out as but a faint shadow of what it will become.

"Today we can print cases made of only one or two materials, and the machines are limited in what they can make, but that itself is incredibly exciting - and the future even more so."

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