Nokia has taken an extremely unusual step—it has released a kit which will allow owners of the Lumia 820 smartphone to print their own cases on a 3D printer. 3D printing is still a very young technology, and no other phone manufacturer has encouraged its customers to utilize it in this way.
PCMag’s Chloe Albanesius reported, “Nokia has released a 3D-printing kit that will allow those with a 3D printer to create their own case for the Lumia 820. The Nokia Lumia 820, unveiled in September, includes removable shell cases that let users switch up the color of their phone or enable things like wireless charging. But if you’d prefer to make your own case, Nokia’s 3D-printing kit is the answer.”
ZDNet’s Liam Tung noted, “Interest in 3D printing has grown rapidly with the growing availability and falling prices of 3D printers like the MakerBot, which costs around $2,000.”
CNET quoted Nokia’s John Kneeland, who said, “My own view is that the hype is justified, and that 3D printing is indeed A Very Big Deal. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it the sequel to the Industrial Revolution. However, it’s going to take somewhat longer to arrive than some people anticipate, and that may disappoint people. For now, it’s a bleeding-edge technology for bleeding-edge early adopters–which is exactly where Nokia is aiming its 3D printing community efforts.”
GigaOm’s David Meyer commented, “This is about hardware, and Nokia can rightly claim to be in the vanguard here. Bear in mind that Lumia smartphones run the closed Windows Phone platform — by partnering with Microsoft rather than Google, Nokia sacrificed openness on the software side. By releasing the 3DK (a neat term, by the way), the company is reintroducing that customizability in its hardware and potentially stimulating a whole new ecosystem that may actually feed back to its own internal development efforts. Nokia is effectively outsourcing rapid prototyping to its customers. As Kneeland puts it: ‘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.'”