Mar 16, 2016 | By Alec

It’s always a strange moment when you’re reminded that the smartphones in our pockets are actually very potent mini computers that are not at all used to their full ability. No 3D printing initiative has so far better illustrated that than the OLO DLP 3D printer by Italian developers Solido3D. A huge hit at the World Maker Faire NYC 2015, the forthcoming OLO is actually a small smartphone-powered DLP 3D printer that replaces projection technology with a smartphone screen. Its attractiveness has further increased due to a low price tag of just $99, and has been very eagerly anticipated. Though initial Kickstarter plans surfaced way back in October 2015, the machine is now ready for the primetime – with a Kickstarter campaign to be launched on 21 March.

Ever since its unveiling in NYC, the OLO 3D printer has been subjected to a whirlwind of publicity, skepticism and speculation, and of course all attention is positive attention. In case you missed it, the OLO is essentially a battery-powered box (consisting of seven parts plus an engine) that fits on top of your Android, OS or Windows smartphone. Users are simply to install the free OLO app, where they can upload, download, manage and share 3D designs, put the box on their phones and hit ‘print.’ The device has a build volume of 7.6 x 12.7 x 5 cm, and uses photopolymer technology to create high-quality resin 3D prints.

But the real selling point (and cost-saving solution) is its reliance on smartphone technology. Where the SLA or DLP 3D printer rely on UV laser or projection technology, respectively, the OLO simply replaces those expensive options with a phone’s own LED display. When you place your smartphone underneath the glass surface of the resin container, the app will make the screen light up in a pattern specific to the object you are printing. It’s a process that suggests it cures resin with far less intense light, with a series of flashes on specific areas of the screen. As the directed light moves upward and hardens the resin, the object is built layer by layer, resulting in high-resolution (as fine as .042mm) results.

Because of the sharing-function of the app, the OLO is also being touted as the first ‘social’ 3D printer. But more importantly: it’s the cheapest resin 3D printing option around. As Solido3D co-founder Pietro Gabriele revealed to us back in October, that was the main driving force behind their work. “The idea behind the development of OLO was to create a cheap 3D printer that anyone could easily use, regardless of their experience (or lack thereof) with other 3D printers,” said Gabriele when asked about the initial concept for OLO. “We want to break through the barrier that is holding people back from 3D printing: namely, easy access.”

Though arguably not enough to compete with, say, the Form 2 3D printer or other high quality resin options, the OLO is intended for those people that aren’t ready for a big investment or have the technical know-how to operate a professional alternative. Given its compact size, weight, and battery power source (standard AA 1.5V that last for at least 100 printings), it is also ideal for anyone who is traveling and would want access to a 3D printer on the road.

It’s obvious to see why many people were very positive about the OLO, though some criticism is also understandable. It is, for instance, not clear as to how the phone communicates with the 3D printer, or how fast it will be – does it tie up your phone for hours at a time? Can you simply use your old budget smartphone? Some people have also just called it a gimmick that doesn’t compare to actual 3D printers. But for that low price, it is certainly a very attractive option for small scale prototyping. It is understood that the OLO will also come with at least eight different resins, with different colors and possibly even flexible and castable options.

In short, the OLO 3D printer is understandably very eagerly awaited by many users, and the Kickstarter campaign will doubtlessly also reveal more info on how the machine specifically functions. Make a note in your calendars: it kicks off on Monday 21 March.

Update (March 21): The OLO 3D printer Kickstarter officially launched today and within mere hours has exceeded its $80,000 funding goal. Reward packages including OLO merchandise and resins are going between $19 and $73 dollars, but the real rewards start at just $79—the super early bird price to receive your own OLO Smartphone 3D printer. As of this writing, the campaign has already reached $111,000 and counting from over 960 backers. With 29 days left to go, there's no telling how much OLO will manage to raise, but one thing's for sure: the world is more than ready for smartphone 3D printing to arrive.

 

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Ken Cosgrove wrote at 3/17/2016 10:41:08 AM:

I'm going to put this contraption in the same category with eBay's battery-powered "turbochargers" and the little boxes that are supposed to improve fuel economy by 25%.

YoMomma wrote at 3/17/2016 1:19:54 AM:

It's another kickscammer for the same idiots who always fall for this type of crap.

boober wrote at 3/16/2016 7:22:59 PM:

Looks similar to what PhotoCentric is doing with their LCD printers. Interesting that their resin is visible light curable but they appear to store it in translucent bottles. Seems risky...

Da Re Enrico wrote at 3/16/2016 4:15:58 PM:

they cut the last few seconds of the last movie in order not to see the z movement that was clearly a fake. they also have deleted my comment at the same movie in facebook! something to hide?



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