One of the great things about Maker Faire is seeing new technology long before anyone else. At the 2015 World Maker Faire New York, a small concept device called the Olo Printer caught the attention of many with a promise of turning your smartphone screen into the light source that will generate resin-based 3D prints. The next year, the company behind it launched a Kickstarter, raising $2.3 million through the pledges of over 16,000 backers of the $99 machine, and changed its name from Olo to Ono.
Kickstarter campaigns, especially those involving 3D printing, are notorious for absent details and late arrivals; Ono has similarly had setbacks and changed delivery dates, along with renewed rounds of fundraising, and growing questions from the community about the viability of the technology promised.
With those thoughts and questions in mind, we set out to get details from the group at this year’s Maker Faire New York, where they were once again exhibiting. With a promise of finally showing the product in action, we spent the pre-Faire setup Friday evening with Ono co-founder Pietro Gabriele and general manager Giacomo Fornasini at their booth. The duo happily walked us through the interface of the Ono phone app and printer, explained their resins (which use specially QR-coded labels to determine specific properties, age, and quantity used), and let us find an image to use on our own phone to create a one-layer thick print during the pre-Faire kickoff dinner to show the ability of the phone to cure the resin.
Great news: It worked. Using a non-optimal image (white skull with varying shades of blacks in the background) for a non-specific amount of time (about 15 minutes), we produced a one-layer print using their orange, flexible resin.
Pietro and Giacomo continued through the weekend by letting us set up a GoPro to record a timelapse of their printer creating their lattice grid in their booth over Saturday and Sunday. They even set a timer so they could periodically open the plastic barrier and let the camera see the progress of the print.
The print came out great, a detailed lattice generated from their cracked-screen Android phone. Addressing some of the concerns we’d seen in comments on videos the Ono team has posted, we witnessed the app load the model, the team pour in the resin, the printer gears move the plate into the reservoir, and we were able to place and move the camera and printer freely as needed.
The conditions at the Faire were not optimal for outdoor printing of any sort (even the FDM machines on display had hiccups with the bright sun and 90+°F temperatures), and the Ono printer did show signs of resin hardening in the areas of its tub where light could creep in past the plastic barrier they set in front of it (not to mention all those peeks inside for the camera). This didn’t seem to be a surprise or setback.
There are still a few outstanding questions — an electronics setback has again pushed back delivery dates, and we’d love to see how it handles other designs. Meanwhile, Ono is still taking pre-orders, so with any similar crowdfunded project, buyer beware. But we are happy having seen the device working, and assuming all goes smoothly with manufacturing, hope to see this ship soon.