The market for iPad and iPhone accessories is worth billions–and it usually takes a sizable, glossy company powered with lots of marketing and PR to horn in on it. (Think of Incase or Belkin.) But not anymore–and not in the age of rapid prototyping. Solitary designers can readily produce products as good as any you’d find in the Apple store–as the iPad Canvas Wrap, by designer Jeff Bare, proves. Just $50, Bare, a one-man outfit, designed it himself and distributes it through Shapeways, a Dutch company that does 3-D printing for regular Joes:
The Canvas Wrap’s design protects the iPad, without adding a huge, ugly case that obscures the beauty of the original design. It simply covers the corners and the rounded back–so that it sits flat on a surface without slipping, all while protecting the corners, sides, and screen from a hard hit if it does fall. And we think the filigree on the back is quite nice–just a tad shy of frilly, and appropriate for the iPad without slavishly aping the original design, as many lesser products attempt to do.
We’ve seen plenty of fabulous applications of 3-D printing–from impossible objects that cast crazy shadows to gorgeous rings made cheap but with stunning craft. But Canvas Wrap is proof of an even greater use for the technology: Products built by an army of one. What’s more, Bare doesn’t need to take an outsize risk with the product, ordering a bunch of them and hoping they sell. Since it’s 3-D printed they can be made on demand.