Combining different deposition technologies to manufacture items with multiple materials has been possible for quite some time. The problem is mostly with the patent system in the west. It's a patent minefield of obvious claims by patent holders that aren't even using the tech or are not interested in anything other than prototyping at slow print rates with very high profit margins on the materials. I expect an explosion of the tech in China or after a few more of the patents expire in the west.
Too bad Alibaba didn't make an offer to buy their stores. They could stock them with the top 250 or so electronics gadgets that sell. They could also handle all the local returns or warranty issues. Oh well, it was nice while they lasted from the 60's as Allied Radio and as Radio Shack until the late 80's
This is what we are working on now. http://openlunchbox.com/
Standard modules that anyone can make and cases printed on demand.
The main cost in developing a laptop is the high cost of tooling for the injection molding. http://openlunchbox.com/ plans on rapidly printing laptop cases to get around this problem and making all the main components as modules. SLA resolution is in the sub-100 micron range vs well over 100 micron for FDM. It's also an order or two of magnitude faster.
..them to run cooler.
They don't teach thermal management to EE's or ME's. The two groups each work on their own portions of the laptop and then cram a heat pipe and fan assembly into the case that the heat pipe supplier says might work. Thermally conductive thermoplastics have been around for decades yet they never seem to make it into laptop enclosures. Some are more thermally conductive than aluminum and are are not too costly for them to be incorporated into the design.
There is a new open laptop project at Open Lunchbox starting up that intends to provide open reference designs for enclosures that use the enclosure as part of the cooling system.
Yes. Computer hardware has been a commodity since the late 80's to early 90's.
Some people don't use a smartphone,
That's another thing about open hardware. If you don't like the track point you don't have to use it. You can change the keyboard and pointing device. Want a higher res display? No problem swap it out to another panel. The firmware isn't locked to any particular panel.
Another difference with Open Lunchbox is that all the components to build your own laptop are there the same as you can with desktop PC's. You can swap LCD's, drives mainboards and cases. The design files may be used as a standard for building your own laptops.
Even better that you're able to get 6+ more years from an already 6-8 year old laptop with its great keyboard and track point by just swapping out the mainboard. It also doesn't break by just using it or from a small bump.
The main concern with most laptops is having to use closed binary drivers, closed binary firmware/BIOS and not having schematics. This project has all open source drivers, coreboot and schematics, PCB files and a BOM (bill of materials). They can use it the way they want and modify it if they wish.
It's not about competing with closed mass produced hardware. It's about choice and having the ability to use and modify the hardware to suit your needs.
This is not about mass market appeal to the average consumer. They buy whatever they are conditioned to purchase. This is for those people that understand and care about freedom and open source. This gives them the opportunity to modify, control and use their hardware the way they see fit.
Take a look at why, how and where people use Linux as an example of open source.