14 May 2014
One of the most astonishing technological advances of recent years has been the advent of three-dimensional printers. These incredible pieces of technology have been used to print every conceivable item, from super lightweight running shoes to guns to multi-storey buildings. They have also made it easier for manufacturers to work with previously inaccessible materials to create flawless designs with no visible joins. It is unsurprising then that three-dimensional printing technology is now making its way into the world of mobile phones, and more specifically, mobile phone covers.
Customised phone cases are already widely available, giving mobile users the opportunity to ensure that their phone is truly unique. It is possible to design the case yourself, using either a pre-defined set of designs or a photograph or piece of artwork that you have created yourself. However, with three-dimensional printing technology, the possibilities are now endless.
Adoption of 3D Printing
Back in early 2013, Nokia announced that it was releasing design files that would allow 3D printer owners to make their own cases for its Nokia Lumia phone. This was a bold step forward not only for mobile phone manufacturers, but also for the electronics industry as a whole, since it made Nokia one of the first electronics manufacturers to give their backing to three-dimensional print technology. The phone manufacturer announced that they already used 3D printers within their business, but felt that the technology offered such potential that they wanted to back it more publicly, with an aim to promote its more widespread use.
How Does It Work?
As you might expect, three-dimensional printers allow people to create 3D designs from a wide array of materials such as plastic, metal, rubber and even carbon fibre. Incredibly, they have also been used to create phone cases with moving parts. A great example is available on YouTube, where a 3D printed iPhone case is displayed with moving gears. Whilst the technology seems incredibly space age, the way it works is relatively easily explained. A three-dimensional object can be created quite easily using a digital design. The procedure is an additive process, so layers of different shapes are progressively added to the item. The difference between this and normal manufacture is that most manufacturing processes utilise subtractive processes, whereby material is removed from an item using a machine. For example, the shape may be cut or drilled to create the shape required. Whilst not yet readily accessible to the mass market, the three-dimensional printing industry is continually growing. As with all technologies, as the market grows the price decreases. This means that it won’t be long before you will be able to use 3D technology to create phone cases in designs that we can currently only dream of.
Danny Butler on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 · Leave a Comment