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The making of Andy Rubin's 'Essential' phone

Essential, led by Android's co-creator, used its very own machine shop to help develop the phone, fast.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 21 Josh Miller/CNET

Here's how the Essential Phone was made

The Essential Phone is a newcomer with lofty ambitions: To help make modular phones robust and coveted. 

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2 of 21 Josh Miller/CNET

Part of a larger project by Andy Rubin, who's widely known as the father of Android, the Essential Phone was fine tuned in a machine shop that's part of the company.

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This is the machine shop where Essential's team made their own prototypes -- it's faster than farming it out and less prone to leaks.

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Shells like these helped the company's engineers tweak everything from color to the way the components fit. 

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The Essential Phone has a titanium chassis, so Essential built test models from titanium slabs using an industrial 3D printer.

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It may not look like much from the outside, but the 3D Systems ProX 350 uses a laser to melt layers of fine titanium powder that's spread over the plate.

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It takes about a day to print the body of an Essential phone.

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Titanium 3D printing can get very detailed.

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Essential's machine shop also has a 3D printer for making plastic mockups... 

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For example: These 360-degree cameras, which (in their finished form) magnetically snap on to the Essential Phone.

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They also use a milling machine to prototype parts like the magnetic connector that attaches the 360-degree camera to the phone.

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Get a load of those metal shavings.

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They can also machine parts out of plastic and glass, which won't create dangerous sparks.

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Unlike the first one, this milling machine has 60 tools it can pull from, and the work table in the center moves on its axis while others remain static.

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Many of the machines in the shop cost half a million dollars each, said Rick Becker, the machinist.

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Essential made these mockups in-house to precisely tweak the fit of the magnetic connectors.

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Essential isn't shy about sharing the missteps that went into the process of making its first phone.

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A rack of body designs.

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Essential isn't the only company to use the machine shop. It shares space -- and prototyping priority -- with other companies that are part of Rubin's product accelerator, Playground Global.

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One last look at the Essential Phone etched into the titanium slab before being printed into a 3D metal model.

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21 of 21 Josh Miller/CNET

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Go hands-on and dive deeper into the Essential Phone with us. 

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