Jan 27, 2015 | By Alec

Many of you will have undoubtedly noticed that 3D printers are exceptionally proficient at producing original and cool smartphone cases; for many, it might even be the very first thing you have printed. Fortunately, Thingiverse is filled with pre-made designs for whatever smartphone model you happen to own, which often also provide the basis for many first attempts at 3D design. It’s fun, functional, replaces something you’d otherwise have to buy in the store, and it’s easy to show off.

But this very fun and simple application is now available to everyone in Japan. Japanese mobile phone provider KDDI has just launched a 3D design web service called 3D PRINT LAB, where users can easily and affordably design their very own smartphone cases. These will then be 3D printed and delivered to your doorstep.

While similar concepts already exist, but as KDDI is one of the major providers in Japan, it is expected to reach a very large and diverse public. The company has also managed to keep this announcement shrouded in mystery, as it was only announced yesterday and goes live today (27th of January).

The 3D PRINT LAB is shaping up to be a very accessible and provide plenty of options. In a nutshell, customers can choose from five basic shapes as well as five colors. To add to the 3D concept, a further 80 different 3D dimensional graphics can then be added to design, such as raised hearts, letters, numbers, short messages or other fun add-ons. Alternatively, there’s also the option to mix in custom-made designs. According to the company, the whole web service has been designed to be easily used by people without any knowledge of 3D modeling; ‘you can make a design in as little as three minutes.’

When designing this web service and its content, KDDI closely worked with design studio PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER of famous Japanese designer Keita Suzuki. He and his team are responsible for the pre-made 3D design components, so this would also be a cheap and original way to own one of his creations. But whatever design you settle on, it will be printed for you using an unnamed industrial-grade laser sintering 3D printer, and will be delivered to your doorstep in about two weeks’ time. All that, for a price tag of just 4298 yen (or approximately $36). Not bad, right?

This interesting web service can be used for a large variety of smartphones; including iPhones from 4S up to 6, as well as isai Xperia, VL and HTC android models. Even the just-released Firefox smartphone should be compatible. In short, it can be used for most models offered by KDDI. Japanese users who don’t currently use KDDI services, can reportedly even obtain a special ID for the 3D design service through their operator.

Sadly for us in the rest of the world, the 3D design web service is only available to Japanese customers, but if you’d like you can still visit the 3D PRINT LAB here.

It will nonetheless be very interesting to see if this experiment by KDDI catches on; for with a market consisting of millions of smartphone users, it will doubtlessly do much to raise awareness about the potential of 3D printing technology. To help inspire people, KDDI already proposed one original option: 'why not design a unique smartphone case to give to your loved one on Valentine’s Day?'



Posted in 3D Printing Services


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