Google’s Project Ara smartphone is one that should give a large amount of choice to the consumer and allow for many people to get the phones that they want with the specs and hardware they desire, along with the look and style that represents who they are. A lot has happened with Project Ara since we first heard about Google’s idea to take the modular smartphone and make it a reality. Once the device launches it will undoubtedly have many unique iterations essentially made by individuals by choosing the parts they want, but to do that Project Ara requires plenty of those little pieces we can see that are placed on the back of all the modules. The core of the Project Ara device is certainly the modules themselves and the capability for the consumer to swap them out when needed. A large portion of the Ara device though is also the ability to customize the style of it with different designs and give it that totally unique look.
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3D Systems is the team behind that task as they are creating all the 3D printed pieces that you can customize the modules with, and they outlined some new details at the Ara Developers conference back in the middle of April about how they’re going to tackle making massive amounts of these parts for the Project Ara phone. With the idea to have so many planned styles for customization, 3D Systems is setting themselves up to take on a large amount of work, hoping to reach millions and even billions of 3D printed module shells by 2015. With the way that their current system handled printing pieces, there was just no way that they would be able to handle mass producing all those shells in the time needed. That’s why they have set out to create a continuous, high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system to account for the volume of pieces they need to make at the speed they need to make them.
Unlike the standard reciprocating platform that many 3D printers use, the continuous high-speed system will allow the module shells to move in a single continuous motion without the acceleration and deceleration that comes with using the standard 3D printers running on the reciprocating platform. 3D systems isn’t just looking at mass producing these shells at high speeds though, as they’re also looking into providing materials with both functional and aesthetic value, meaning more colors, more styles, and by the sounds of it, shells that actually serve a functional purpose. It’s kind of cool to know some of the process behind how the Ara device will be made, we look forward to seeing more of what 3D systems has to show us.