If you’re the type of person who gets really excited about people building actual businesses off of 3D printing, I have some good and bad news about smartphone case maker UCreate3D.

The good news: Using 3D printing, UCreate3D solves one of most basic problems about smartphone cases: Getting a decent one for a device that’s not an iPhone or the latest Samsung Galaxy phone.


Above: UCreate3D is fulfilling one of the promises of 3D printing.

In that sense, UCreate3D gets to the heart of what makes 3D printing so special: Because the technology is fast and cheap, small manufacturers can use it to create objects in small batches, satisfying demand while avoiding major investments in new technology. The 3D printing processes is all about the long tail of product demand.

“For 95 percent of phones, there are no decent cases available. Either that or you have those ugly sleeves. There’s really no choice for consumers,” UCreate3D co-founder Vincent van de Poll told me.

It’s a neat idea. By using 3D printing, UCreate3D can create cases for any device — no matter how obscure . If anything shows how powerful 3D printing can be, it’s that idea.

The bad news is mostly just disappointing  While UCreate3D is using the current hype surrounding 3D printing to ride the waves of publicity, the operation doesn’t intend to keep advertising its cases as 3D-printed. “3D printing is cool, but it shouldn’t be our main selling point in sixth months. By then we will focus more on the case and customization aspect,” van de Poll said.

That’s a bit sad to hear. 3D printing may be a buzzword now, but it’s always interesting to see people building actual businesses from it. Frankly I’m surprised that UCreate3D wants to suppress that side of its business.

“The emphasis will be more on the product than the technique. It shouldn’t matter how a product is produced, the end result is what counts,” van de Poll said.