When Motorola threw its weight behind Phonebloks' modular smartphone concept, it pretty much signaled to the rest of the industry that the Google company was dead serious about customization. But that radical vision of a completely upgradeable handset needs an equally radical manufacturing partner and Motorola's found that in 3D Systems. Today, the two companies have announced a multi-year deal that'll see 3D Systems building what Motorola calls "the factory of the future," and providing a complete end-to-end fabrication process for 'Project Ara.' As part of the deal, Motorola's exclusively tasking 3D Systems with creating new "multi-material printing capabilities including conductive and functional materials" to build these modules (e.g., chassis, battery, etc.) and help it keep pace with eventual consumer demand for 'Ara' phones. That's all if 3D Systems can prove its undeveloped printing process actually, you know, works. If not, well, 3D Systems can kiss that exclusivity agreement goodbye.

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Motorola inks deal with 3D Systems to build its modular 'Ara' smartphones