Gadgets

Nokia embraces 3D printing with custom Lumia 820 cases

If there is one thing Nokia smartphones have in common with 3D printers, it’s that not too many people own them.

Sorry, that was mean. Let’s start again:

Using 3D printers, Nokia wants to give Lumia 820 the greatest gift of all — unhampered customization.

Nokia has released design files for the Lumia 820’s outer casing, so enterprising Lumia owners can tweak the design and print out their own, customized case.

The move not only harkens back to the ancient history of ultra-customizable Nokia phones but to the company’s recently-announced Lumia 620 as well. Nokia, it seems, is banking on the all-too-real possibility that smartphone owners want more control over the way their devices look.

Of course, the big problem with the move is that 3D printers aren’t exactly a mainstream technology yet — and Nokia knows it. “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,” Nokia community head John Kneeland wrote in a blog post.

For 3D pinter-less Lumia 820 owners interested in the designs, the solution can be found in companies like Shapeways, which will print out your designs and ship them to you.

In all, the move is the latest indication that 3D printing is creeping into the mainstream, even if 3D printers themselves aren’t.