Plastic parts of Google Project Ara will be 3D-printed

The first of the high-speed printing projects 3D Systems is working on involves a partnership with Google to 3D print modular smartphones that can be changed or upgraded by unplugging and plugging in new Lego-like electronic parts. Google’s Project Ara, as it’s called, will create a line of highly-customizable, modular smartphones that offers consumers both functional and aesthetic choices on their device.

Lego-like parts that will form the building blocks for Google’s Project Ara will be produced on 3D printers and ship in time for the customizable smartphone’s release early next year. With Project Ara, Google is looking to provide a configurable smartphone in which users can add desired hardware features by attaching modular parts. Buyers will get an empty phone frame and insert the hardware components they choose into the back of it. For example, they could swap a camera for an extra battery for longer run time. 3D Systems will manufacture the plastic parts, including the circuitry inside, President and CEO Avi Reichental said during a keynote Thursday at the Inside 3D Printing conference in New York. 

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