Google’s Customizable Ara Phone Will Feature 3D Printed Components


Most of us are always on the lookout for the latest phone, never turning down a chance to upgrade our beloved old phone.

For Google, at least one upgrade will come early next year when they plan to release the 3D printed, configurable, customizable smartphone.

With the “Project Ara,” Google is looking to bring a new concept to the table, one which allows customers to configure their smartphone by adding and taking away hardware. The idea is that customers will receive an empty phone frame, and have the capability to insert the desired hardware into it themselves; giving customers the option to switch out hardware pieces such as a camera, with an additional battery. The potential is virtually endless.

3D Systems is working to produce the plastic parts inside. According to 3D Systems’ President and CEO Avi Reichental, the company is also looking to use 3D printing to allow customers the ability to print custom designs. Google is also working with another company to provide customized artwork for their phones.

The problem now is that while 3D printers are able to make small, complex items – only a handful of expensive 3D printers can print the thin layers of metal needed to produce electronics inside the phone. Reichental adds that the whole process seems very “surmountable.”

So if you are in the market for an ubercustomizable, and unique phone, keep your eyes open for the release of “Project Ara” due to make an appearance early next year. While the project won’t be replacing the phones, it will make for an interesting use of 3D printing, and will help to lay the groundwork for future 3D printing projects with conductive material.