Even if the only thing you’ve ever created was a finger painting for mom in pre-school, you’ve had the experience of making something new from nothing but the muse dancing in your brain. Part of creativity is flexibility in your outlook and, depending on medium, materials. Additive manufacturing (AM) is all about flexibility.
AM allows designers, engineers and home enthusiasts to create something brand new, in a way never before possible. While the technology does have some limits, it is far more flexible than traditional manufacturing and allows for a greater amount of creative freedom. Nokia is tapping into that flexibility, becoming one of the first major corporations to embrace consumer-driven 3D printing.
The Windows 8 Lumia 820 phone from Nokia comes with a whole range of technical specs that make it interesting. But what makes this smartphone interesting from an AM point of view is the hardware. Unlike most cell phones, the Lumia 820 was designed with a removable shell that allows for the sort of customization usually provided by smartphone covers.
The shell is really nothing more than a piece of plastic, and if there’s one thing AM has plenty of experience with, it’s working with plastic. Nokia has released what it’s calling a, “3D Printing Development Kit” (3DK) that gives owners the power to design their own smartphone case. This is the first step of truly flexible creative design that is part of the future offered by AM.
“In the future, I envision wildly more modular and customizable phones,” said John Kneeland, a Nokia Community & Developer marketing manager. “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. 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!”
Even for folks who are intimidated by 3D design, the 3DK project still has something to offer. I have no doubt that the maker community in particular will embrace 3DK, and soon Nokia owners will be able to download and either print out or order these custom shells. You can find links to the 3DK at the Nokia blog.
Below you’ll find the launch video for the Nokia Lumia 820.