3D Systems Motorola
3D Systems 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.
Project Ara aims to develop highly-custom, modular smartphones that afford users the opportunity to make functional and aesthetic choices about their device.
Regina Dugan, Senior Vice-President and Head of Motorola's Advanced Technology & Projects group, commented: "With Project Ara, we asked the question, 'How do we bring the benefits of customisation and an open hardware ecosystem to six 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."
“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 personalisation 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.