January 18, 2013, 8:56 AM — Nokia is embracing the 3D printing community by releasing files that will let smartphone users create their own custom shells.
Owners of its Lumia 820 smartphone will be the first to have the opportunity, the company said in a blog post on Friday.
The move is mostly about marketing, as Nokia looks for ways to make its products stand out, according to Malik Saadi, principal analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.
The Lumia 820 was announced last September. It uses an interchangeable shell that allows users to wirelessly charge their device and choose between a number of colors, which now can be expanded upon with the option to print custom shells.
For people who want to design their own shells Nokia is releasing 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices. Mechanical drawings in either STL or STP file formats can be downloaded from the company's developer website. The printed shells cannot be sold, as the licensing only allows for non-commercial use.
Once confined to prototyping and niche curiosity, 3D printing has started to take off thanks to products from companies such as MakerBot Industries, Stratasys and 3D Systems and services such as Sculpteo, which allows users to upload a file and then prints it for them.
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