If you’re in the market for Apple Watch bands, you have no shortage of options. From Apple’s snazzy (but pricey) official offerings to third party straps from dozens of accessory makers, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you. But maybe you’re looking for something less mainstream, or maybe you don’t want to break the bank just to get a little variety in your Apple Watch experience. If that’s the case 3D Systems might have just what you’re looking for.
3D Systems, one of the leaders in the 3D printing field, has partnered with FreshFiber, a European design company with plenty of experience designing items to be 3D printed, to create a series of bands for the Apple Watch. Called Flex Bands, these unique-looking 3D printed straps are made of a nylon-like material and are designed to be super-thin and flexible. The material, called Everlast, is molded into the watchband’s shape via special Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers after you place your order; they are essentially custom-made to your order.
There are four styles of the Flex Band to choose from, each featuring a different 3D pattern and available in several sizes and four colors: black, grey, blue, or pink. The Polygon pattern has triangles of various sizes. The Web design reminds me less of a spider web and more of illustrations of an atom, with spokes coming out of a few central hubs and connecting to form the “web.” The Canyon resembles, well, a canyon, with ridges and valleys and a great texture. Lastly, the Crocodile is patterned after the rough skin of said critter. As for the colors, black and grey are pretty self-explanatory; the pink leans more toward the magenta side, while the blue is a fairly bright, rich shade.
The bands are available exclusively from Cubify, a website that hosts all sorts of 3D printing recipes and various goods you can order to have printed and shipped to you, ranging from phone cases and watch bands to clothing and furniture. Unfortunately, the technology required to “print” the Flex Bands is extremely expensive; the cheapest SLS printers available will run you around $10,000. This is likely the reason why the “recipes” are not available for download. Instead, you can order your choice of the bands and they will be shipped to you. The bands are priced at $39.99 and can be pre-ordered now. The projected shipping date is towards the end of June, but this can of course change.
If the idea of 3D printed watchbands appeals to you, keep an eye out, as the Flex Bands will likely not be the only options in this space. I would imagine this is something that could become fairly popular as both the Apple Watch and 3D printing become more popular and available in the coming years. It’s even possible that at some point in the near future you could come up with your own band design and either print it yourself or have it printed and shipped straight to your door, custom-made just for you.