Google’s Motorola Mobility unit and 3D Systems have come to an agreement that could change the way mobile phones are manufactured.
According to a press release, the two companies have entered into a multi-year development agreement 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.”
Motorola recently launched the Moto X, which allows consumers to customize various aspects of the device, including color and homescreen, when they order via a website.
Regina Dugan, senior vice president and head of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects group said Project Ara aims to scale customization.
“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,” Dugan said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, 3D Systems plans to expand its multi-material printing capabilities, including conductive and functional materials. The company also said it had 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 says it expects to manufacture 3D-printed Ara smartphone enclosures and modules as Motorola’s exclusive fulfillment partner.