Last week was a big one for additive manufacturing juggernaut 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), which issued two notable press releases. One of them announced an agreement to work with Motorola Mobility, a Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL)-owned company, developing a printer capable of multimaterial printing for Project Ara. This project aims at developing a mass-market, fully customizable mobile phone. The second notable announcement was for the company's newest 3-D scanner, the Geomagic Capture.
Enter 3D printing, Phonebloks, and Project Ara
The deal with Google is the news item investors and tech gurus should be paying attention to. Details around Project Ara are scarce, but it appears Google is working with the Phonebloks company to develop a modular and customizable cell phone. While this potential future phone is truly groundbreaking, the method of making it could be no less extraordinary.
This new printer tech being developed for Google by 3D Systems will have to be truly extraordinary for its intended purpose. It will need to print conductive materials, plastics, and metals, while also incorporating subtractive processes such as CNC machining to be able to manufacture this future phone. This is a massive undertaking for 3D Systems, as no company has anything close to this technology in use today. Investors should pay attention to Project Ara to see how it progresses going forward.
Not a future phone, but still memorable
The new Geomagic Capture scanner comes right after 3D systems released its consumer-oriented Sense scanner, and is aimed at professional market. This scanner is intended for high accuracy on smaller object scans and is priced between $14,900 and $24,900, depending on the software package customers select. These new scanners are important to 3-D printing, because they lower the barrier to entry for users who might not be able to create a 3-D file from scratch.
The scanner probably won't have a huge impact but is good news nonetheless. The bigger news is the Sense scanner and the Google deal. If they can pull off this ambitious printer, they'll have a huge head start on the competition and likely some valuable intellectual property to go with it. In the following video, Motley Fool analyst Blake Bos explains the details behind the exciting new deal with Google and the new Capture scanner.