Google’s innovative mobile phones initiative Project Ara will not be using 3D technology any time soon. Google’s director of Project Ara Paul Eremenko has said this during an interview with Purdue University. Earlier this year, several media including 3dprinting.com reported that Google would team up with 3D Systems in order to 3D print the next generation of smartphones, working with many separate modules. Google now decided 3D printing is not yet the right technology for the project.
The idea, which still stands, is to create a smartphone based on several components. There will be a module for the battery, one for the screen, one for the camera and many more. As a user, you’re able to stick each module into the phone, turning it into a smartphone that can change its look whenever you want to. The project was described by Google with, inter alia, the revealing sentence: “What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?”
The phone – which is expected to launch in January – won’t be made using 3D printing technology. In the interview with Purdue University, Eremenko said Google had thought about using the technology to create shells for Project Ara for extra customization. However, the technology couldn’t live up to Google’s standards. He said:
We did in fact look at making the shells using 3D printed materials that offer an extra degree of customization. As it turned out; there is a little ways to go in the 3D printing space. So for now, we are using polycarbonate with dye sublimation as the aesthetic elements of the device.
He, however, wasn’t all negative about the technology, as he also mentioned the technology offers “exciting prospects” in the future:
I do think that 3D printing offers some really exciting prospects and I think the costs in the long run will diminish as it gets to maturity in scale. That strikes me as an industrial-based domain that will follow something very close to Moore’s law in terms of advances. So I am not too concerned about the long term costs of 3D printing, and the capabilities are pretty staggering.
The initial idea was that 3D Systems would help Google with a high-speed 3D printing system for Project Ara, as described as a “continuous, high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system to accommodate production-level speeds and volume.” As it seems, this system has not been good enough for Google yet. 3D Systems will continue to work on its platform, and aims it will be 50 times faster than current 3D printing technology.
Credits images: Google.