It's very likely that 3D printers are going to be a big part of our future, but for the average user, today's desktop models typically command prices that are hard to justify. That's one thing that can't be said about the OLO 3D printer, however, as it costs a mere $100. And no, that's not an error. We're talking about a 3D printer that costs about the same as a couple of AAA games.
OLO was first announced in October at the World Maker Faire in New York, where it earned itself an Editor's Choice award and accolades from media all over the world. Following that immense hype, it launched a Kickstarter campaign just a couple of days ago, and ended up exceeding its $80,000 goal in mere hours. As of the time of this writing, the campaign sits at nearly $500,000. It should be safe to call that a major success.
The developers behind OLO call it a "smartphone 3D printer" as it requires a smartphone to operate. Designs can either be downloaded from the Internet from the device, or copied over from a computer once it's created. When placed on a desk, the OLO looks like an inconspicuous little box, but inside, it can craft items up to 400 cm3 in volume. Because it is so small, its developers call the OLO "portable", and it has the specs to match: it's 1.7lbs (780g) with a physical size of only 6.8" x 4.5" x 5.8" (172mm x 115mm x 148mm).
OLO is a unique printer not only because of its small form factor and low price point, but because of its operation. Once the 3D model is loaded, the bottom section of OLO can be placed on top of your phone, and then the resin of your choice is poured inside that structure. You then place the top half of OLO on top (as you'd expect), and wait a few hours for it to do its thing. How does the resin harden? By using the light emitted from your phone, of course.
"A few hours" might be a caveat for some, as it means the phone cannot be used while it's printing. However, this would be a minor issue if you were to plan an overnight print session or have spare devices laying around. We should also mention that OLO is battery operated, so you'll be able to charge the phone during the printing phase if need be -- it's not powered by the phone.
At $100, OLO might seem like it's designed for beginners, and it is, but its developers are targeting expert users as well. There are simply no other 3D printers like OLO at this time. As for post-purchase costs, resin is the one thing that will need to be replenished. However, it's not going to break the bank; the hollowed sphere shown above costs $0.94 to make, to give some perspective.
If you want to get in on the OLO action, you have the next 27 days to hit Kickstarter and pledge. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about whether OLO will become a reality as nearly 4,000 backers have already greenlit the project. Want to spend more than $100? OLO is also offering a gold-plated version with its creators' signatures for a mere $10,000. Tempting, isn't it?