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Is the ONO Smartphone 3D Printer for Real or Just a Good Story?

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.

How long can it take to develop a 3D printing app?

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.

Many awesome looking 3D printed models on display but no 3D printers running.

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.

About Davide Sher

Over the last decade Davide has built up extensive experience as both a technology journalist and communications consultant. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook. He is a senior analyst for US-based firm SmarTech Publishing focusing on the additive manufacturing industry. He founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. which specialises in media and communications services for the 3DP and AM industry, through which he runs 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, as well as two editorial websites, 3D Printing Media Network and Il Replicatore.

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7 comments

  1. It was certainly a very good scam. Almost a year after the in-hand date, no one has one yet. Updates are a collection of lies mixed in with technical terms so people are as in the dark about whats happening as before reading the update. Contacting the company results in “we got more problems, will ship in a few weeks” copy paste reply.
    First time I got scammed, and I will certainly not be pledging to any more kickstarters in the future.

  2. I don’t think it’s a scam, but when people overy low priced 3D printing they are trying to do something that’s not been done before, which is by definition risky, and with fairly little margin for error (unless they get outside investors). So speaking as a “super-backer” I long ago learned to view money put into these sorts of projects as speculative. If I really needed a printer by a date, I’d buy a real product from a real company. I funded ONO because I wanted them to try, and I’d like the result, but I know that they’d likey hit delays and might fail completely.

    It’s like investing – don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose, and don’t assume success. In return for accepting those rules, you can help make something happen that you support, and/or get a great ‘early bird’ deal.

    • Hi Laird,
      Your pointed out deserves my full admiration: ” I wanted them to try “, thats the kind of support we need.

      Filippo Moroni,
      co-founder, CTO
      ONO Inc., USA

    • Hi Laird,
      Your pointed out deserves my full admiration: ” I wanted them to try “, thats the kind of support we need.

      Filippo Moroni,
      co-founder, CTO
      ONO Inc., USA

      • Filippo, you replyed to Laird now please reply to the rest of us backers and actually tell us the truth with what is happening with the project.
        Your communication with the people who are paying you, we the backers, has been lacklustre, non existent or just flat out lies, a lot of us are not happy.

  3. matt gajkowski

    ONO… the 2017 edition of the Tiko!

  4. It seems to me that it is not only fault of company that promised something “attainable or very cheap” if not also of the people, I explain … this technology was not developed by ONO, it had been existing for a long time but … folly And that obsession to get everything at a price of risa is as risky as wanting to sell this same printer at exaggeratedly high prices as the first liquid resin printer … I understand that the BIG IDEAS have to have a lot of money … ONO problem is not the technology … it seems to me that it goes more for the low cost that they promised and in the end they are seeing is not enough to pay for matters like investigation and development … in order, nowadays there are Chinese printers in ALIEXPRESS Which work very well … they are not as cheap as this ONO but … if you are a fan of 3D design or a digital artist, or entrepreneur emprendedo … or simply a lover of the gadgeds you will understand that to pay 700 dollars For a printer No is not a price at all exaggerated … mistrust more than a $ 99 resin printer … because it is too low to be a proven product.