On 3DPMN we’ve expressed our doubts on the ONO (formerly OLO) 3D printer before as much as we’ve also highlighted the realistic aspects of this project (and even published a video of it running). However it seems that the hyped-up, Kickstarter-funded, smartphone 3D printer, which collected over $2.3 million during it’s crowd-funding run, is several months late (close to two years, according to some). Although delays may be understandable for any Kickstarter project, many of the backers are beginning to lose their patience.
The ONO team shipped a very small number of early beta products so far and has been releasing monthly updates on small progress being made in terms of app development and – the most recent – UL certification of the film that protects the smartphone during printing. If I put myself in the shoes of the backers – especially the superbackers – that funded the projects, I think would also be quite upset if all I get, after months of waiting, is a monthly update on the app’s development status.
With several $100 3D printer Kickstarter projects going belly up in recent months, I would not at this point be so sure that ONO won’t be the next high profile failure. Because when you collect as much as $2 million for funding you really have to deliver and “unexpected challenges and issues” are simply not a good enough excuse not to.
On 3D Printing Media Network we very rarely do articles criticizing companies in 3D printing. We love this industry and we think that the brave people that are working so hard to build it deserve nothing but respect. That’s because, in most cases, additive manufacturing is exactly the opposite of financial speculation. It is real industry based on real manufacturing: as such every dollar earned is a real dollar, not just the product of inflated expectations.
On Kickstarter, however, this is all too often not the case. Cool ideas on paper can make their inventors rich but if those ideas don’t become products the entire industry is damaged in terms of credibility. So far ONO has collected more than $2.3 million for a cool idea. Unfortunately it seems that the company chose to spend a large part of that on marketing to validate the idea on paper rather than on R&D to actually make it real.
On the actual doability of the project, beyond the obvious doubts relating to different technical specifications of different smartphones (including different screen luminosity levels), we don’t have enough information to comment. We have received opposing reports arguing both that most issues have been overcome and that they have not.
As recently as just a few days ago the founders gave an interview and yet no details emerged as to the scheduled delivery date for thousands of ONO systems that have already been paid for. The interview closes with the phrase “ONO is not just a 3D printer but also a story.” Let’s hope it is a story that ends well.