3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) and Motorola Mobility are teaming up to use 3D printing and manufacturing capabilities to smartphones.
The Rock Hill, S.C.-based company, which also has a major presence in Morrisville, plans to use its 3D printing technology to help the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) firm produce individualized phones as part of its Project Ara.
The goal is to enable manufacturing of “highly-custom, modular smartphones” in which buyers can make “functional and aesthetic choices” in the building of their device.
In a deal announced early Friday, the companies said the aim is to bring customization to “6 billion people.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
3D Systems is a global leader in 3D printing and prototype design. Its holdings including Morrisville-based Geomagic, which was acquired earlier this year.The Triangle-based group will be involved in the project, but the company didn’t specify in which ways.
“For projects like this 3DS brings to bear all of our major talents and global R&D facilities for a collaborative success,” Alyssa Reichental, manager of Global Media Relations, told WRALTechWire.
Motorola Mobility and 3D Systems have already collaborated on a series of “MaketheMoto” events, which refers to Motolora’s “Moto” lineup of smartphones.
“With Project Ara, we asked the question, ‘How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?’ That is our driving application,” said Regina Dugan, the head of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects group. ”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,” said Regina Dugan, Senior Vice President and head of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects group.
3D Systems said it will “substantially expand its multi-material printing capabilities including conductive and functional materials” as part of the deal. If it successfully develops the capabilities required, 3D Systems said it “is expected to manufacture 3D-printed Ara smartphone enclosures and modules as Motorola’s exclusive fulfillment partner.”
“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, CEO of 3D Systems. “3D printing promotes a level of sustainability, functionality, and mass personalization 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.”