AAPL Stock: 118.03 ( -0.85 )

Printed from

Motorola signs deal with 3D Systems to make modular smartphone parts

updated 01:56 pm EST, Fri November 22, 2013

3D Systems developing 3D printing line for Project Ara module construction

Motorola's modular smartphone has taken one more step into becoming a reality, thanks to a multi-year agreement with a manufacturing partner. 3D Systems has agreed to create a "continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform" for Project Ara, and ultimately creating modules as "Motorola's exclusive fulfillment partner" if it completes the platform's development.

As part of the deal, 3D Systems will have to upgrade and expand its existing multi-material 3D printing capabilities, including printing with conductive materials. It also plans to combine both additive and subtractive manufacturing methods to create all possible modules for a complete smartphone. Regina Dugan, senior vice president and head of Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects group, advises that to create the smartphone, it "requires technical advances in areas such as material strength and printing with conductive inks for antennas," advances that must also be able to work at "production-level speeds and volumes."

The basic idea of Project Ara is for a mobile phone to be created by the user combining modules together on a single structural frame. Each module can be switched out for another component, allowing smartphones to be constructed with the specific user in mind. For example, someone may want to add modules for higher storage capacities and faster processing, while at the same time replacing the camera with an extra battery. If a module is damaged with the rest of the device working fine, just the faulty component could be swapped out for another, something which could in theory save on repair costs.

A full production run of a modular smartphone is not likely to occur for a number of years, though the Google-owned phone producer is attempting to encourage development in the "free, open hardware platform" by sending out an alpha release of the Module Developer's Kit sometime this winter.

by MacNN Staff



Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented