The idea of easily upgradeable smartphones isn’t an entirely new topic. We have seen a project from Phonebloks and more recently, Motorola unveiled something called Project Ara. Motorola made that announcement back towards the end of October and at the time they introduced Ara as the answer to how they could bring the “benefits of an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people.”

Well, while the talk had gone quiet for a few weeks, it appears as if Motorola has been making some progress. Coming this morning is word of a new partnership. Specifically, Motorola has announced a manufacturing partner. Said partner is 3D Systems and this is being billed as a multi-year development agreement that aims to “create a continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfilment system in support of Motorola’s Project Ara.”

Again, Project Ara is one that is looking to put customizable and modular smartphones into the hands of consumers.

As part of this agreement, 3D Systems plans to substantially expand its multi-material printing capabilities including conductive and functional materials. The company also 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 is expected to manufacture 3D-printed Ara smartphone enclosures and modules as Motorola’s exclusive fulfillment partner.

Otherwise, for now 3D Systems will be serving as the exclusive manufacturing and fulfillment partner with Motorola for Project Ara. And for those thinking the 3D Systems name sounds familiar, they previously partnered with Motorola for MAKEwithMOTO. That was a series of make-a-thons that toured around the country visiting some engineering and design schools.

The idea behind the MAKEwithMOTO tour was to “power of open, hackable smartphone hardware and 3D printing to begin seeding an open hardware ecosystem.” And with that, it looks like Motorola and 3D Systems will be continuing with that in mind. While there wasn’t any indication as to when these will arrive in the average users hands, it is something we are going to have to keep an eye on.

SOURCE: Globe Newswire


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