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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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work