MakerBot eyes 3D printed iPhone cases as mainstream fast track

Summary:Stratasys' MakerBot unit starts beefing up its developer program with a bet that a partnership with iPhone custom case maker Fraemes boosts mainstream curiosity.

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MakerBot said Wednesday that it has added Fraemes as its second 3D printing enabled app to its developer program. The bet: Adding Fraemes, which enables custom iPhone cases to be printed, will speed up mainstream adoption.

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Stratasys, parent of MakerBot, to date has been primarily driven by its enterprise printers for manufacturing. However, the growth in terms of units has been driven by MakerBot , its consumer 3D printing unit.

By adding Fraemes, MakerBot is adding a key category---mobile phone cases---to entice consumers and hobbyist to give 3D printing a go.

MakerBot's developer program launched in June with the goal of allowing easy access to 3D printing to its Replicator platform.

Bre Pettis, CEO of Makerbot, noted that phone cases have been popular with early 3D printer adopters. Fraemes provides bumpers for mobile devices and customized inserts.

More: 3D Printing: A primer for business and technology professionals |  Research: 60 percent of enterprises are using or evaluating 3D printing  |  3D printing's great mystery: Where's HP?

Owners of a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer will have to connect their MakerBot accounts with their Fraemes collection. Once a checkout process is complete, 3D printed Fraemes designs can be processed from the MakerBot Desktop Library. For people without a MakerBot Replicator, they can purchase a custom Fraeme for $20 from a MakerBot retail store---only in New York, Boston or Greenwich, Conn. to print the cases. Digital files run $1 and bumpers go for $12.

It's unlikely that the Fraemes partnership will entice the masses, but garner some interest from folks pondering 3D printers.

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Printers, Innovation

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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