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3D Printed Prototypes Used by Microsoft to Design the Surface Tablet

| 3D Printers, Mobile Communications, Objet | March 14, 2013

Microsoft Surface 3D Printed Prototype

A 3D printed rig to test the Microsoft Surface's hardware. Photo: The Verge

Microsoft’s recently launched Surface takes on the established tablets in the marketplace, the Apple iPad and Samsung’s Android devices. This was Microsoft’s first foray into making its own hardware and to streamline and speed up the development process they used 3D printing for their prototypes.

The Verge has just taken an in-depth look at the top-secret design process behind the Surface. The tablet runs Microsft’s new operating system, Windows 8, which is designed to take advantage of the technologies inside tablet computers, such as touchscreens and mobile connectivity. The Surface was designed from the ground-up to leverage all the power of this O/S and have more functionality than the competition.

“The goal was, you gotta bring Windows 8 to life,” says Microsoft’s Panos Panay, general manager of the Surface team.

Over several months hundreds of 3D printed prototypes were produced so that the design of the tablet’s case and keyboard could be refined to a point were the team were happy.

3D Printed Prototypes

A stack of 3D printed prototypes for the Surface's case

The “Project Georgetown” team (Georgetown was the codename for the Surface RT) utilized several Objet Eden 3D printers and one Objet Connex500 machine to create their prototypes.The 80+ person team liaised with their colleagues in China, where the Surface is manufactured, who also worked with the exact same 3D printers.

Watch this video for more insights into how the Microsoft Surface was developed.

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