Turn your smartphone into a 3D printer for $99

A new 3D printer that uses light from a smartphone display to create objects has already garnered more than $800,000 four days into a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

OLO 3D Inc. created a three-piece cube with a transparent bottom that rests atop any smartphone with a display of up to 5.8-in, including the iPhone 6S and Galaxy A7.

When activated, OLO's smartphone app turns any 3D design into a bright light that hardens resin in the cube into an object.

The OLO app also allows users to send printable images to other OLO app users for them to print.

OLO 3D Inc.
The OLO 3D printer app.

If you choose not to use an existing library of images, you can also use any 3D scan software, including Autodesk 123D Catch, to create images on your smartphone to build a 3D object; that includes photographs.

Multiple objects can be built at the same time. Like any 3D printer, the build time can be substantial (though this printer appears to be slower than most desktop 3D printers). For example, a small 2-in. diameter ball can take up to three hours to build.

Currently, OLO is offering its 3D printer to early buyers for $99. Once it's available for retail sales in October, that price is set to jump to $450 in the U.S.

OLO uses small bottles of a photopolymer resign, just like the resin used in a stereolithography printer. Once an object is printed, you just wash it off under water. Like other stereolighography 3D printers, which uses a pinpointed light source to harden photopolymer resin, the OLO 3D printer has a remarkably fine resolution, printing layers up to .036 millimeters in height (0.12 mm in "quick-mode").

OLO's resin, which comes in eight colors, is currently sold in four-packs for a $79 pledge. There are four resin types that can be used to create hard objects, and rubbery ones or even durable molds for casting objects with molten metals.

OLO 3D Inc.

OLO's photopolymer resins come in eight colors.

"We have been hard at work for two years perfecting the case, reinventing mechanics, reengineering micro-chips, and discovering a completely new line of materials called Daylight Resins," OLO's development team stated in its marketing material.

The OLO 3D printer runs on four AA batteries, is silent, weighs 1.7lbs and is 6.8-in x 4.5-in x 5.8-in. It has a 3-in x 5-in x 2-in area in which you can build objects.

To use the OLO 3D printer, a user simply selects an object on their smartphone (iOS, Android or Windows), either from OLO's library of images or from any other 3D object site. Then, you place the smart phone into a rectangular-shaped base that protects the phone from the larger cube set atop it.

OLO 3D Inc.

The OLO 3D printer cube being set atop a smartphone.

The upper cube unlocks into two pieces. In the bottom half of the cube, you pour in the resin, then set the top half back on. The whole cube is then set atop a smartphone running the OLO 3D printer app. As the virtual object on your smartphone's screen is highlighted in light over and over, it hardens a portion of the resin in the cube, creating an object as an internal small platform lifts it up and out of the resin pool -- just as with any desktop stereolithography 3D printer.

"OLO's building chamber was designed to prevent light penetration in order to maximize the effectiveness of the white light emission from your smartphone's display," the company stated.

OLO 3D Inc.

The OLO 3D printer creating a perforated ball.

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