Google’s New Smartphone Will Be 3D Printed by 3D Systems
Google’s Modular Phone Gets 3D Printed
In May 2012, Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, marking a transition for Google from search engine to consumer electronics manufacturer. After a period of turnaround and renewal, the Motorola Mobility unit of Google has launched smartphones like the Moto X and Moto G.
Now Motorola Mobility, a Google company, has unveiled plans for its most ambitious project: a 3D printed modular smartphone.
The company announced Project Ara in late October as a “free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.” In a blog post, Motorola Mobility’s Paul Eremenko wrote, “We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”
And in the most recent update to Project Ara, 3D Systems has been selected as the 3D printing partner for the new phone.
3D Systems Wins the Google Contract
3D Systems announced that it has entered into a multi-year development agreement with Motorola Mobility LLC, A Google Company, to create a continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfilment system in support of Motorola’s Project Ara.
“With Project Ara, we asked the question, ‘How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?’ That is our driving application. It requires technical advances in areas such as material strength and printing with conductive inks for antennas. And those advances must support production-level speeds and volumes, which is a natural partnership with 3D Systems,” said Regina Dugan, Senior Vice President and head of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects group.
“Project Ara was conceived to build a platform that empowers consumers all over the world with customization for a product made by and for the individual,” said Avi Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems. “3D printing promotes a level of sustainability, functionality, and mass personalization that turns these kinds of global ambitions into attainable local realities. Project Ara combines two exponential technologies, and we expect that the resulting high-throughput advanced manufacturing platform will have far reaching implications on the entire digital thread that stitches together the factory of the future.”
As part of this agreement, 3D Systems plans to substantially expand its multi-material printing capabilities including conductive and functional materials. The company also plans to combine additive and subtractive manufacturing methods, and deliver an integrated high-speed production platform. Pending successful completion of the development phase, 3D Systems is expected to manufacture 3D-printed Ara smartphone enclosures and modules as Motorola’s exclusive fulfillment partner.
Motorola and 3D Systems, the inventors of the cell phone and 3D printer, respectively, have previously partnered on the MAKEwithMOTO tour, a series of make-a-thons at the nation’s top engineering and design schools aimed at exploiting the power of open, hackable smartphone hardware and 3D printing to begin seeding an open hardware ecosystem.
Learn more about Project Ara at www.makewithmoto.com.