"For the maker community, for the artist community, for niche applications, it's going to be huge," McGregor said.
Modern smartphones are highly integrated, with network equipment, cameras, batteries and other components built in, making it hard for 3D printers to produce them, McGregor said. In addition, the wireless parts used in smartphones need government approval, and that takes time and money.
"Will Project Ara catch on? No," McGregor predicted. But it will lay the groundwork for future 3D printing projects involving conductive material.
3D printing is the "factory of the future," 3D Systems' Reichental said, helping companies prototype, manufacture and deliver products faster. The technology also promises manufacturing that is cheaper and more sustainable, he said.
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