3D printer uses light from a smartphone screen to harden creations

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OLO is designed to be simple, consisting of three plastic pieces, one chip, and one motor, ...

OLO is designed to be simple, consisting of three plastic pieces, one chip, and one motor, all operated by four AA batteries (Credit: OLO 3D Inc.) View gallery (7 images)

Over the past few years, 3D printers have become more versatile and accessible to the average consumer. Many models are easy to use, some of which can occupy a minimal amount of space with footprints hardly larger than a sheet of paper. But the latest 3D printer takes portability to the next level, given that millions already own half of the required hardware. OLO is designed to let users create 3D prints by using the light from a smartphone screen.

OLO is designed to be simple, consisting of three plastic pieces, one chip, and one motor, all operated by four AA batteries. Measuring 6.8 x 4.5 x 5.8 in (17.2 x 11.5 x 14.8 cm) and weighing 1.7 lb (780 g), this device is compact and light enough to fit in satchels or backpacks.

Once an object has been loaded on the OLO mobile app, users then place the smartphone – even the large iPhone 6S+ will fit – into the base. The resin chamber, which offers 400 cubic cm of printing volume, rests directly above to hold the desired resin of choice. Set the top piece in place for a complete seal, and OLO will be prepped for printing.

The critical part to how OLO's 3D printing process is meant to work is the actual resin itself. We've seen many unique filaments/materials, including molten glass, metal, and the water-soluble kind. The company creating OLO is said to have discovered something completely new, which is currently named "daylight resin." This photopolymer is designed to react to white light emitted by smartphone screens, curing as a result of exposure.

All of the software processing is handled by the OLO app, available for iOS, Android, and Windows. No manual leveling or calibration required. Once an object has been loaded and printing commenced, the app instructs the smartphone to light up specific pixels for a set amount of time. Resin affected by the light transforms from a goo-like substance into hardened material. The OLO smartphone 3D printer continues this process, layer by layer, until the object is finished and resin consumed.

100 g bottles of daylight resin are available in a variety of colors, finishes, and material types. Users have the option to create designs that are hard, flexible, fusable, flexy, or elastic, mimicking familiar substances of PMMA, ABS, hard wax, soft PVC, and silicon. The OLO mobile app calculates the necessary amount of resin required per print in order to minimize/eliminate waste.

The app provides a library of designs to choose from, also allowing people to share via social media or in-app messaging. It's also designed to be compatible with other 3D printing/scanning apps or software. While the OLO 3D printer may be limited by the size – and possibly resolution – of structures it creates, the beauty is the sheer simplicity and accessibility. Anyone, whether novice or pro, with a smartphone can make and print 3D anytime, anywhere.

The OLO smartphone 3D printer is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 507 percent of its US$80,000 goal in under two days, with another 28 days left to go. Pledges start at $99 for one OLO 3D printer with one resin bottle and a sticker set. Optional accessories and extra packs of resin can be added for an additional amount.

Prototyping and development of the photopolymers, app, and supply chain are already in-progress. So if certifications, molds, testing, and production go according to schedule, backers can expect shipments of the OLO 3D printer to start as early as this September.

Check out the timelapse video below to see how OLO works from the inside.

Sources: OLO 3D, Kickstarter

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