Create a Custom iPhone Case with 3-D Printing

By on Sep 13, 2012

This week’s TechTips is perhaps a little less of a “Tip” and a little more of a view into the future. I have been monitoring the 3-D printing industry for the last couple of years. I have been amazed to watch the quality improve while the price drops dramatically. This is yet another example that Moore’s Law is alive and well.

Companies, and individuals, are using 3-D printing technology to create physical objects from computer drawings of everything from board game pieces to parts for firearms. While there have been relatively inexpensive 3-D printers available like the ones from Makerbot for some time, 3-D printing has been limited to those who have more money and time to learn and use 3-D design software.

That is beginning to change. Companies are beginning to create products and services that streamline the design process. Sculpteo is a French 3-D printing company that has recently released an iPhone app, 3DPCase, that lets you quickly and easily design a customized case for your iPhone.

 Sculpteo iPhone app 3DPCase

The process works like this: Using the app, you choose from 12 available templates — more are being created — and then customize that template design by changing the shape, switching the colors, or adding images and text. The entire process can take just a few minutes of your time to design and upload to Sculpteo.

Sculpteo then takes your design and prints it using a 3-D nylon extrusion process — typical of what you’d find in other 3-D printing processes. Finished cases typically ship within four days for North American orders.

Clement Moreau, CEO and co-founder of Sculpteo, says his company is trying to make 3-D printing more accessible to the average user by reducing the time and energy needed to create a design. “This application really shows that 3-D printing will change the way we build objects in the future,” Moreau says.

I agree with Moreau; 3-D printing is taking the concept of custom manufacturing to a whole new level. The insurance coverage implications for this new type of industry are intriguing. I can already see that an enterprising agent will create an insurance program designed for custom manufacturers using 3-D printing processes.

The 3DPCase app is available in the iTunes App Store for iPhone 3G, 4/4S cases, and Sculpteo will start taking orders for iPhone 5 cases as soon as it is announced. I’m ordering mine today.

Have you made anything using 3-D printing? Leave a comment and let me know what you created.

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