Myth buster: printing a Nokia Lumia 820 cover is a piece of cake

It looks like 3D printing is getting even more mainstream with the just launched rear shell for your Nokia Lumia 820. Easy to download, but what about printability?

The Nokia Lumia 820 has a clip-on interchangeable back which can be downloaded on the developer site. It can then be 3D printed on your printer or by a service such as ours. We’re happy that such a major player in the world in mobility embraces 3D printing and customization. They’re the first manufacturer to do so. But the problem is: it looks very simple and cool to 3D print, but knowing that it takes a lot of research and test prints to have a functional phone cover or shell (like we did to make sure the KEES covers fit), we’re taking this one to the test on several printers!

What do we need? A Nokia Lumia 820 of course! We jumped into our snow boots to buy one and get it to our office. First thing we did was trying to get the cover of. Once we got the back removed there were two things that caught our attention.

One: The shell consists of two materials: hard plastic for the shell and a rubber-like material for the buttons. If you print the shell all in one piece, you’re not able to push the buttons any more. And if you print it separatly, the buttons won’t fit in the shell any more.

Two: Wireless charging isn’t possible any longer since the wireless charging component is embedded in the shell. But that doesn’t need to stop you from printing it of course!

We uploaded the file and did some tests on several 3D printers. These are the results:

1. This was printed on the UP!, a personal portable printer. The material that’s been used is ABS; you clearly see the support structure that needs to be removed. And that can give a little problem: you need to be really careful when removing it otherwise your shell will break.
2. ABS: This material is not appropriate to use with this wall thickness. It fitted perfectly on the phone, but it broke (see te marked spot on the picture) when removing the shell.
3. Resin: This is one of the best materials to use since the wall thickness is only 0.9 to 1 mm. But the problem with the buttons remains.
4. Polyamide: The material is a little less flexible than resin, but ok to use. Same problem here unfortunately: you can’t use the buttons.

As you can clearly see; the shells are not yet perfect to fit onto your Nokia Lumia 820. But we wouldn’t be an innovative company if we would leave it here. Stay tuned and watch how our engineering team will offer you perfectly printable files.