A complex and fully complete understanding of all aspects of the fairness of a products manufacture and distribution is beyond human capacity. However like the asymptote in analytical geometry, it is possible to approach that understanding ever and ever closer while still acknowledging that it has not been reached. Fairphone is not the world’s first fair smartphone, but it does hold the approach to that goal as its guiding light.
This social enterprise began in 2010 when several organizations began to collaborate in an awareness raising campaign about the role minerals mining was playing in financing the war in DR Congo. They spent three years researching and recording every aspect of the supply chain that they could. Then, in 2013, they decided to produce a phone that would work toward addressing the inequities present in the current modes of production. As they stated:
“We want to make a phone that puts ethical considerations first, and doesn’t just focus on technological improvements. By creating an alternative in the smartphone market, our ultimate aim is to raise the bar for the entire industry.”
Where this intersects with the world of 3D printing is in the announcement of their partnership with 3D Hubs, a Dutch distributed 3D printing service, to allow people to print smartphone covers at their nearest location. This means there is a significant reduction in the energy consumed in shipping and there is, as with all on demand printing, no need to print excess stock which may eventually go to waste.
There are five designs currently available and they are also running a ‘Design a Day Challenge’ in which designs are crowd sourced to the Fairphone community. The designer of the current cases, Joris van Tubergen, will refine one or a combination of designs submitted in order to create a new design. If you want to submit though, the clock is running down as they are running the challenge for five days only. This is no surprise since the design suggestions that come in by 9:00 am have to be finalized by Joris and uploaded for viewing by 1:00 pm that same day.
By the end of the challenge, you will be able to choose from among 10 phone case designs, each available for 18 Euros ($24.50). After your payment has been processed, an email is sent prompting you to select the nearest 3D Hub location. There are currently over 6,000 locations, so chances are there’s one near you. Color availability varies slightly by location and so it is not until after you have selected your location that you will be able to choose from a list of colors. If for some reason you don’t live close to a 3D Hub location, they will ship the case to you for an extra cost.
You can find a location near you by visiting the 3D Hub site. Let us know if you have submitted a design, or purchased a case via a 3D Hub. Please feel free to also post it in the Fairphone forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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