3D-printed phones herald world of instant electronic everything

Start of the 3D printing revolution Bloomberg/Getty Images By Hal Hodson FOR the past few months, a factory in China has been spitting out a new kind of smartphone. Inside each is an antenna that was 3D-printed directly onto the plastic housing. It doesn’t sound like much, but this ability to print electronic components at the scale and speed required by the smartphone industry is new. It has the potential to usher in a world where sensors and electronics are embedded in everything around us. The technique was developed by a company called Optomec in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is working with Lite-On in Guangzhou, China, which makes phone components for companies like Huawei, HTC and Sony. Normally, a phone’s functional parts, such as the antenna, are etched into the…

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