From pocket to polymer - a portable 3D printing toolkit

Dialled in

Is it me or are our day-to-day lives becoming so dependent on new technology that new technology has become, ironically unsurprising? Send a remote control buggy to Mars? Sure. Talk to our house? No problem. Fly a HD video camera over the mouth of a volcano using a drone? Easy.

So what's left, tech-wise, that can surprise us in a world where everything is expected to advance? Size. Everything gets made smaller, and more accessible. And I’ve found the latest device that ticks those boxes, and adds something new to the equation. Let’s dive into the world of 3D printing.

3D printing has been around for a while now, with the first method known as Stereolithography invented in 1984. Armed with a UV laser and barrel of liquid photopolymer, the magic can happen. (The process is fairly well detailed on the Wikipedia page for Stereolitography which is well worth a read if you're interested in the finer points). And hey presto - your very own digital to physical, plastic model is ready to show off to your friends and family.

If you read the page I linked to, you’ll be pleased to hear that 3D printing has moved on somewhat since 1984. You’re not limited to polymer any more; advances have been made from concrete to cheese. If you can remember Willy Wonka passing a chocolate bar through the TV screen, then the capability is nearly there - if take-up is strong, then not to long into the future 3D printing could do to retail what computers have done to information storage. You’ll see something in an advert and within minutes you’ll be unwrapping and enjoying you’re delicious 3D printed, made to order chocolate bar – fresh off the printing press, of course.

Now for the exciting bit, OLO is pitching itself as the first ever smartphone 3D printer.

The miniature 3D printer can be attached to your smartphone; and the smartphone's light is used to cure the resin. In turn, this will create the objects that you design on your PC or native app.

It's relatively affordable - the $99 price tag  means this is going to be one smart toy that you’ll never get bored of. It can print metals and plastics in a range of different colours, and brilliantly you can send a gift design to someone’s OLO for them to print. I think this really is something that could be in every creative’s tool kit in the not-to-distant future.

It's not in the shops just yet - but you can pledge on Kickstarter to be the first to get your hands on this exciting piece of kit: - it has already hit it's target, so it may be in your local computer shop sooner than you'd think.

Don’t take my word for it though, watch this video and let us know in the comments what you think of OLO, and what uses you could make of it.