The year has only started and 3D printing already tops the list of the most talked about technologies of 2013. And we are not talking only about technology blogs, small online communities or tech start-ups, but about mainstream media and technology giants.
Nokia is one of the first smartphone manufacturers to back up 3D printing by releasing to the public a set of documents, templates, recommended materials and best practices that will allow anybody with some 3D printing knowledge and a 3D printer to ‘manufacture’ their own cases for the Nokia Lumia 820. Referred to as the 3D printing development kit (3DK), this will allow enthusiasts to create their own personalised shell with ruggedized margins, dust protection or even wireless charging capabilities. In the future Nokia envisions selling some sort of phone template which will then be customised on a local level by companies specialised in 3D printing who also know the needs of their community better.
Although this does not look like a major breakthrough in the 3D printing world, the fact that names such as Nokia and BBC (that quickly reported this announcement on their website) back up this technology gives it credibility and momentum.
Another 3D printing news story, although on a bigger scale, comes from Netherlands where an architect plans to 3D print buildings with a futuristic shape (a continuous loop with only one side) as early as 2014. Large scale 3D printing is not a new subject in the additive manufacturing landscape however no other projects have been given a deadline until now. It remains to be seen if this is realistic or only an optimistic goal.
This mainstream awareness of 3D printing is expected to continue for the whole 2013 and comes to no surprise for many, considering the multitude of benefits and advantages it has versus the traditional mass manufacturing processes.