The 3D printer for the average consumer is here and it goes by the name of OLO. Shattering its Kickstarter goal in a matter of hours, OLO is a device designed to work in tandem with a smartphone to create a fully functional 3D printer. The reason for its surprising success? Backers can now have a 3D printer in their home for just $99.
The phone-sized prism is touted as 3D democracy and its design is based around the concept that half of a 3D printer’s hardware is already in the pocket of 92% of American adults. The printer consists of a reservoir, a photopolymer resin that is poured inside, and a mechanized lid containing the build plate and control electronics. The base of the device holds a piece of polarized glass which the phone is placed underneath, facing upward. Once the lid is placed on top and the printer starts going, the OLO phone app displays specific patterns on the screen. The polarized glass takes this light and focuses it to beam directly upward and cause the layers of resin to harden onto the build plate into any conceivable pattern as the plate moves up.
The missing piece of the 3D printing equation is a standard projector needed for all Digital Light Processing devices and the substitution of the phone is magnificent in because not only does it relieve the necessity of DLP printers’ most expensive part, but it gives life to a printer still capable of producing excellent quality creations.
The product however, has some drawbacks. Time taken for printing can be crippling due to the dependence on smartphones throughout the day. Print times are estimated between 1 and 4 hours for a completed product. Additionally, OLO is not expected to be troublesome for more serious 3D printers due to its size but the shift of consumer base in 3D printing is incredibly similar to the progression of anything from microwaves to personal computers. While these lighter printers may not develop into a staple household appliance, it’s safe to say the excitement and innovation of 3D printing is just getting started.