Founded in Colorado nearly 20 years ago, OtterBox is the number one supplier of smartphone cases in the US. The company makes frequent use of 3D printing technology for its cases, and its uniVERSE Case System, which has a slim but durable OtterBox protective case for an iPhone and and iPad, with a modular rail mount on the back for accessories, such as Bluetooth speakers, battery packs, and credit card readers. Late this summer, the company decided to release the CAD for this case accessory mount under a Creative Commons license, so makers in the open source community could design and 3D print their own smartphone accessory attachments.
Users can select a uniVERSE case, then download one of the many ZIP files with the necessary CAD design and information to design a 3D printable accessory. OtterBox displayed the uniVERSE case system at the World Maker Faire in New York this fall, which gave event attendees the opportunity to design and print their own uniVERSE accessories on-site, using a LulzBot TAZ 6 3D printer from Aleph Objects.
“We chose to partner with LulzBot because of their stellar reputation and experience in Open Source products and 3D printing. Their printers produce quality products quickly and efficiently while being extremely user friendly to beginners,” said Kyle Rajaneimi, uniVERSE Marketing Manager at OtterBox.
“LulzBot 3D Printers helped us demonstrate how easy it is for OtterBox customers to create their very own uniVERSE Case System accessories right at home. We created kickstands, bottle openers, and more. The printers performed amazingly even in 95 degree NYC summer heat! It was impressive.”
The feeling was apparently mutual, as the two companies have continued their partnership. According to a recent case study, LulzBot 3D printers have been used by makers and OtterBox customers to significantly expand the collection of uniVERSE accessories, including such tools as belt holsters and suction cup holders. This is because OtterBox was looking for, as LulzBot puts it, “a guidepost” in the open source community.
“We were excited when Kyle called us for a meeting. The maker community has always shown a ton of interest in 3D printing phone cases, tablet stands, bike mounts, and the like, but they’ve never gotten support from the mobile accessories industry before,” explained Ben Malouf, Aleph Objects Director of Marketing. “We helped OtterBox navigate Free licensing options, but it was their idea to give the maker community access to their uniVERSE CAD files.”
OtterBox’s idea of releasing the uniVERSE Case System’s accessory mount CAD files under the Free CC BY-SA 4.0 International License fits in perfectly with the company’s philosophy of taking risks, working hard, innovating, and listening to what its customers want.
OtterBox CEO Jim Parke said, “One of the core values at OtterBox is innovation, which is why we created the uniVERSE Case System. We’re inviting the community of innovators around the world to customize their mobile experience by designing their own accessories.”
LulzBot is a major proponent of the open source philosophy of sharing design ideas with the community; OtterBox’s demonstrated value on bringing ideas to users fits the two companies together in a nice fit.
Malouf said, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with OtterBox. They are demonstrating exemplary vision by releasing their uniVERSE accessory mount CAD under Free licensing, and we are excited to help bring their community’s ideas into reality with LulzBot 3D Printers.”
The possibilities for more breakthrough innovations and inventions are nearly endless, as more and more companies continue to encourage the user collaboration and contribution that make up the backbone of the open source community’s doctrine.
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