Ina Fried

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Motorola Taps 3D Systems to Help Make “Project Ara” Customizable Phone a Reality

Motorola is looking to a 3-D printing company to help the company’s effort to make mobile phones out of a series of customizable parts.

Motorola Project Ara 2

The Google unit is partnering with 3D Systems to help manufacture the custom gear needed for “Project Ara,” which aims to allow consumers to upgrade various parts of their mobile device without having to by a whole new phone.

“With Project Ara, we asked the question, ‘How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to six billion people?’ That is our driving application,” Senior VP and advanced research head Regina Dugan said in a statement. “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.”

The effort will also likely need the support of component makers, wireless carriers and regulators, not to mention proving that it can be cost effective.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik