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Brief Published: 18 Apr 2016

Olo: Smartphone 3D Printer

Olo: Smartphone 3D Printer

San Francisco-based start-up Olo 3D Inc. has developed a miniature 3D printer that works with the help of a smartphone. The portable Olo printer uses white light from a smartphone screen to chemically set successive layers of light-sensitive resin and create intricate shapes.

Olo's range of light-sensitive polymers can make hard and flexible objects in four different materials and five colours. It also offers a castable resin for creating moulds for metals such as silver and gold. Pre-programmed designs are available on the Olo app, or can be uploaded from the user's own 3D software. Olo is compatible with most smartphones that possess a flat touchscreen surface.

Unlike bulky, conventional 3D printers, Olo is eminently portable. It weighs just 780g (about 1.7lbs), and can produce 100 prints from four AA batteries. Despite its size, it has a respectable printing area of 400 cubic centimetres (around 24 cubic inches), and a high level of printing accuracy.

At $99, Olo's price tag is far lower than other 3D printers, which typically range from $500 to over $2,000. The company hopes that this price point and portability will widen access to 3D printing beyond its current niche. Olo 3D Inc. hopes to have its devices on the shelves by September 2016, with plans for a tablet-sized edition to follow.

Our recent coverage of CES 2016 showed that faster, smaller and more reliable 3D printers are increasingly being released, with global brands like Casio and Polaroid beginning to enter the market. For our latest reporting on 3D printing, see Ultramodern Making: Latest Advances in 3D & 4D Printing.