Launching Fairphone 3D-printed cases with 3D Hubs

Long-Lasting Design

Fairphone’s 3D-printed case challenge Design A Day starts today!

Attention current and future Fairphone owners: Do you want to have a unique case for your Fairphone designed directly from the inspiration of the Fairphone community?

Then start your creative engines running and share your artistic, inspired and perhaps even practical ideas to help us design some special new Fairphone cases. This summer edition of Design a Day has now ended, but in December 2014 we have launched a Design a Day winter edition.

Start designing now!
For this new pilot project we’re partnering with 3D Hubs, a distributed network of printers, to create a selection of protective Fairphone cases that can be 3D printed – around the world, at local printers near you. These cases will be designed with input from our community, and after you’ve ordered one, you can print it at your nearest 3D Hub. Besides the fact that 3D printing is just plain awesome, this project combines creativity and design with local distribution and on-demand production – eliminating the need for long-distance shipping or producing excess stock.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing technology that lets you create solid three-dimensional objects from digital models. 3D prints are created by adding layers of material on top of each other – a process known as “additive manufacturing.”

Creating a 3D-printed object starts with making a digital model using CAD or animation modeling software. When the design is complete, you can send it to a 3D printer using a .STL file. Depending on the printer, your final product can be made from plastic, metal or even chocolate! But for Fairphone cases, we recommend using biodegradable plastics.

If you’ve never seen a 3D printer in action, watch this video of a sample Fairphone case being made.


A look inside the 3D-printing studio of our design partner, Joris van Tubergen. Shot and edited by Beth Russell.

Send us your ideas! How does the Design A Day challenge work?

To kick-off this project, talented designer Joris van Tubergen came up with five case designs that will serve as our starting point to inspire more ideas.

These five cases are now available in our online shop.

Using input from our creative community, Joris will design 5 more cases – one each day this week. From concept to final design, each case will be developed and ready to sell in only 24 hours!

We’re approaching it like a rapid prototyping process with our whole community – except the end result isn’t just a prototype – it’s the final product!

3D printing_web

Biodegradable plastics, called PLA, are in a spool ready for printing in the Ultimaker.

Here’s how the Design-A-Day process works:

  1. Right now, we’re starting the first design loop. We want to hear your ideas for the today’s case design. Send your feedback by 09:00 tomorrow morning using our online Design A Day platform. You can write descriptions, send photos, make sketches or if you’ve got the skills, you can even make a mock-up design. Here are the Fairphone dimensions in a CAD file.If you’re looking for inspiration, you might consider themes like the Fairphone logo and icons, traveling (through the supply chain), quotes or a manifesto and showing what’s inside the phone. But this is just a starting point – don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild.
  2. The next day at 9:00, we’ll end this phase of the design process. From 9:00 to 13:00 Joris and the Fairphone team will review your feedback, make a new design and optimize it for 3D printing. That means we’re moving from the concept to a final 3D-printable product in just 4 hours!
  3. At 13:00 (24 hours after the process started), we’ll present the final design and the new case will be for sale in our online shop. At the same time, we’ll start a new design loop. The first case design will be available for sale starting Tuesday, and a new one will appear in our shop every day through Saturday 12 July.

Pay in advance, print at your local 3D Hub

To make these special Fairphone cases, we’ll need access to a 3D printer. Since most of us don’t have one, that’s where our partner 3D Hubs comes in. If you’d like to order a 3D-printed Fairphone case from our Design-A-Day challenge, here’s what you need to do:

    1. Go to our online shop and add the case of your choice to your shopping cart. Each one costs €18.00 including VAT.Here’s the cost breakdown: For each case ordered, €1.45 goes to Fairphone, €0.92 goes to 3D Hubs, €12.51 goes to the selected local 3D Hub printer and €3.12 is VAT, for a total of €18.00. The majority of the proceeds go directly to the 3D printing location, but in general that only covers the cost of materials and running the printer. All partners involved see this project more as a means for impact investment and raising awareness to the availability of 3D printing – we hope you’ll join us in this pilot program.

3D Printed Cost Breakdown

Cost breakdown of the Fairphone 3D-printed case.

  1. Select your payment type and place your order. Once your payment is received, you’ll get a confirmation email with further instructions and a link to select your preferred 3D Hub printing location. Just fill in your postcode and you’ll see a list of locations. You can sort by distance or rating. 3D Hubs currently has 6,000+ locations worldwide, so there’s bound to be one near you.Once you’ve selected a 3D printing location, you can choose a color for your case (color options differ by location).
  2. Your selected 3D Hub will confirm your order let you know when your case will be ready. We recommend going directly to the printing location to pick it up. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about 3D printing and get to know your local maker community. You can also ask your 3D Hub to ship your finished case to you. (Shipping requests/costs are facilitated by your 3D Hub, not by Fairphone.)If you happen to have your own 3D printer or access to one at work, school or elsewhere, you can also download the .STL file free of charge and print it yourself under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Go to the Fairphone shop and select one of the designs. Under the “Add to Cart” button, you’ll see a link to download the related file.

Ready, set, create!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you must be pretty interested in our Design A Day challenge! So what are you waiting for? Send us your ideas now (or over the course of the next five days). We’re really excited to get started, and with all the brilliant minds in our community, we’re sure to come up with some great stuff.

Now ready, set, let’s get creating! We’ll unveil the first completed Design-A-Day case on Tuesday 8 July at 13:00.

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