They haven’t been around long enough for this to be entirely true, but Fairphone is my favorite smartphone manufacturer, if only for the fact that they seem to be genuinely attempting to create smartphones as ethically as possible. And they’ve teamed up with another one of my favorite companies, 3D Hubs, to manufacture their smartphone accessories. In July, the two announced a competition for crowdsourced phone case designs called Design A Day, in which five Fairphone case designs were selected from the Fairphone community to be released daily. For those who did not own a 3D printer on which to fabricate their new cases, users could turn to 3D Hubs’ distributed manufacturing network to have them printed. After the success of their first contest, the company has launched a second Design A Day Challenge, with new phone cases released every day this week.
3D Hubs currently has over 9700 printing locations in 160 countries, so that almost anyone can find a local 3D printer on which to fabricate their designs. This not only introduces consumers to their local manufacturers/Makers, but reduces the need for businesses to keep a stockroom full of supplies and the transportation/shipping required by centralized manufacturing. This model complements Fairphone‘s ethical manufacturing process, which involves sourcing raw materials from ethical mines; using only assembly factories that meet certain health, safety, and wage standards; and allowing customers to recycle their old devices.
Bas van Abel, founder and CEO of Fairphone, said of 3D Hubs’ model, “3D printing has the potential to disrupt the manufacturing industry as we know it, offering an efficient, cost-effective way to produce products only at the moment when consumers require it. It’s another way for Fairphone to examine the supply chain, make improvements and forge stronger connections between buyers and their products.”
According to Fairphone, the first Design A Day challenge was a great success, as the company was able to sell more than 3,200 cases printed via 3D Hubs’ network of 3D printer owners. The company claims that they’ve continued to sell the cases and that customers have been happy with 3D Hubs, rating their experiences on the site an average of 4.73 out of 5.
Brian Garret, co-founder of 3D Hubs, added, “The results of the first Design A Day project completely exceeded our expectations. On paper, we were convinced that distributed manufacturing could work one day, but to see it gain so much traction with our first attempt is amazing. Fairphone’s cases have been our most printed product to date. We’ve been overwhelmed by the passion our Hubs put into perfecting each and every product they make. So it was clear to all of us that this project wasn’t a one-off, but the start of an ongoing collaboration.”
From now until December 5th, you can put your 3D modeling chops to the test and create a case for the Fairphone ethically manufactured smartphone. They’ve already listed the first design, but you’ve got four more days to get your phone case listed on the site. All designs are listed under the Creative Commons ‘Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International‘ license, so that you can download, customize, and print them yourself for free. Or you can purchase them to be printed via 3D Hubs.