Smartphones Turning into 3D Printers?

Just about everybody has a smartphone, but not everybody has a 3D printer…or do they? A new device called OLO supposedly has the ability to turn any existing smartphone into a 3D printer, which means that your next 3D project might literally be accessible in your pocket. The exact way in which the device will work has not yet been revealed, but there is a real chance that pocket-sized 3D printers are only a few years away.


What is OLO?

OLO might be the first of a new wave of products coming through that can turn a smartphone into a 3D printing device. In this case, the device will be available for about $99 on Kickstarter beginning in October 2015. The specifics have not been announced, but what is known is the fact that OLO will be battery-powered and relatively simple in design as far as 3D printers go. The device will only use seven components. Once a person has purchased this product, they will also need to be able to download the free app that is associated with it. From there, they can upload and adjust 3D models, send them to print, and even share them with their friends through social media.


How Many People Could Use It?

Having the device is one thing, but being able to use it is another thing entirely. However, it’s worth noting that billions of people around the world use smartphones and other mobile devices, and that number is only going to grow. As of 2015, the estimate is that about 80% of all adults on the web use smartphones. OLO is billed as compatible with all the major devices, including Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The simplicity of the design means that the company has the ability to keep the cost low. At a price point of $99, that means that people might potentially get to purchase a simple but effective 3D printer for about the same price that they could purchase a small inkjet printer.


Will the Kickstarter Really Happen?

One of the problems that people often cite with new technologies introduced on Kickstarter is the fail rate of these projects. Kickstarter has seen plenty of abandoned projects, but the designers of OLO have a strong reputation to lean on and provide potential customers with reassurance. The creators of this printer have worked on projects that were created for a client list which includes Coca Cola, Calvin Klein, Viacom, and many more high-profile businesses. The fact that they have such a strong history behind them lends some credence to the idea that this 3D printer for smartphones might actually come to pass.

Whether OLO winds up taking off or not, the proliferation of smartphones and the streamlining of 3D printing technology means that similar products are probably right around the corner. We live in an age where things once relegated to science fiction are coming to pass. Very soon, you can likely add portable 3D printers that are accessed through smartphones to the list of wondrous new technologies.