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back to article Moto's DIY smartphone Ara to be 3D PRINTED in exclusive new deal

Motorola has signed a multi-year deal with materials-printing firm 3D Systems to put together parts for its snap-together modular smartphone known as Project Ara. 3D Systems will build a "continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system" for Motorola and develop new types of material for printing and …

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Modular Phones and Modern Art

I hope all the bits and bobs are going to be available in different colours. I want to build a phone that Piet Mondrian would love.

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So it's an open modular phone system that only one company has exclusive rights to make parts for...

Isn't that like open source where Microsoft is the only company and you don't get to see the source?

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Unhappy

> We will be commercializing the advanced printing platform beyond smartphone manufacturing use and anticipate it being useful as a fab-grade manufacturing to a variety of products and industries, but Motorola will have an exclusive on the use of it for smartphone manufacturing in the beginning. New materials will be developed and used but there is nothing specific to announce on this front right now. As we develop the new materials they will also become commercially available for other markets.

So, erm, no then.

But probably not the first instance of "open-washing" then.

Can I claim first use of the term?

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Unhappy

"But probably not the first instance of "open-washing" then."

Like it.

You can have "open-washing" if I can have "conslutant."

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Headmaster

Um.

Message to 3D Systems:

"We will be commercializing the advanced printing platform beyond smartphone manufacturing use and anticipate it being useful as a fab-grade manufacturing to a variety of products and industries, but Motorola will have an exclusive on the use of it for smartphone manufacturing in the beginning. New materials will be developed and used but there is nothing specific to announce on this front right now. As we develop the new materials they will also become commercially available for other markets."

That's about as clear as mud in so many ways.

Can you try again, this time in Plain English, please?

Oh, and this time, if you would be so kind, please remember to correctly apply punctuation to your reply; I feel sure that many of the readership here would find it much more easy to read and understand, were you to acquiesce to this request...!

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...

And as usual, 3D Systems answers the question with a non-answer that adresses the wrong issue entirely, and not the one the question was about.

We don't want to know who else will be using the printing tech. We want to know if the designs of the phone pieces that 3D Systems will print for Motorola will be available for others to print.

Admittedly, I think the best group to ask that question of is Motorola (with Google maybe second), not 3D Systems. It should be Motorola's (or Google's?) IP bound up in those designs, so they're the ones who should be able to comment.

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As I read it

only 3D Systems have the technology to print the parts and they've made it clear (or at least as clear as possible in managerese) that they won't be making it available to third parties. If you want to know about the availability of designs then, you're right, Motorola is the company to ask. Let's hope a lot of people do.

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See when I saw this in September, I thought that Motorola had bought up the Phonebloks project and turned it into this.

So it turns out the truth is more like "hey, that open source project might actually make some money, let's close it off with something similar but incompatible."

Did wonder why the parts look a little different, and somewhat less customisable. How can you rearrange and put various different bits on when those spiney bits restrict what sizes of block you use, and when the connectors are all in specific places?

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Unhappy

As Microsoft taught us it's all about the *interfaces* or the file formats

So the question is will Motorola release the specs for the various interfaces in the design and do other mfgs (or other 3d printer designs) allow parts to be made to those tolerances?

The implications are a)3D systems have done significant development work on printable parts tech in terms of resolution, ink properties etc. IE no one else can make parts this good, and you can't buy or make a printer to do so currently. b)They will let others use the tech to make parts but not parts to plug into the Motorola design or in fact any mobile phone design (until the agreement expires)

Of course if you come up with a neat idea and then tell the community of makers "Nah, nah, you can't play with our platform" you're likely to p**s them off quite a bit.

Interfaces can be reverse engineered.

Once it is known that it's possible to make parts of certain tolerances and properties it's possible to find other ways to duplicate those properties.

TBH the design might be ok but the planning behind it seems kind of dumb.

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FAIL

Right-o then

Closed is the new open.

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Anonymous Coward

Almost. Nearly but not quite brilliant.

It's a shame that all phonebloks will come to is this half baked, corporate vision of their idea.

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