When the news broke just before the weekend that Nokia was embracing 3D printing in an outward facing way, that’s to say for its consumers (of the Lumia820) rather than in-house for its own product development processes, it went viral pretty quick. The excitement was almost palpable.
It was a notable development particularly because it is a large OEM, albeit one that has lost a great deal of market share to Apple and Samsung in recent years, that has taken the first step towards customization enabled by 3D printing. It’s really just a baby step, but it is headline grabbing (something the company needs) and Nokia will go down in history as one of the first big companies to do it. While 3D printed phone covers have proved to be one of the consumer success stories for the tech to date, it has been largely in the hands of 3rd party service providers.
Talking of which, I found it particularly interesting that two such 3rd parties — i.materialise and Sculpteo — picked up on the news pretty quick, downloaded the files and produced some test prints. They were quick to share.
I found myself wondering about the motivation, with a couple of conclusions. As specialists in this field, who better to test the process and the 3DP files offered by Nokia — and more specifically, the results. They have the expertise and knowledge of 3D printing that is still a prerequisite for successful results and imparted that to the community and world at large. On the other hand, this ‘sharing’ was also a great way of advertising their services and their ability to produce the Lumia820 covers for all those that want them 3D printed but don’t have their own 3D printer — and let’s face it, that’s probably most of Nokia’s customer base!