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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 18:00

POLIGON Sculpture Shows What’s Possible With Ponoko’s Metal Etching Service

Unfolding into the mailboxes of many backers, the latest runaway success from Kickstarter features these elegant and refined sculptures by Poligon.

At the time of writing, pledges for the faceted brass and stainless steel creatures are about to eclipse 300% beyond the modest Kickstarter funding goal. Produced using a metal cutting and engraving process called PCM (Photochemical Machining), the clean lines and precise folds of these user-assembled sculptures have a striking visual presence and it’s easy to see why everybody wants one!

“We fell in love with the process because it doesn’t require hugely expensive tooling but gives highly accurate results with beautiful metals. It really has freed our creative thinking and these sculptures are just the beginning!” – Poligon

While we talk a lot about laser cutting and 3D printing here at Ponoko, metal cutting and engraving via Photochemical Machining is perhaps the quiet achiever. Taking less of the everyday focus, but (as we can see with the sculptures from Poligon) PCM certainly makes quite an impact from time to time. The Ponoko service is often used for intricate jewellery, and you can learn more about how Photochemical Machining works in our comprehensive overview.

Rodrigo and Matthew from Poligon had their own extensive experience in modelling and production to draw on, and the success of their Kickstarter campaign is well deserved. If you are inspired by this to give PCM a go yourself, then Ponoko has all your needs covered from laser cut card prototypes through to finely etched products in brass, copper and stainless steel.

Other Kickstarter projects that have used Ponoko’s services and exceeded expectations include the wildly successful Game Frame (1,031% over goal), the LittleRP affordable resin 3D printer (475% over goal), and the musical wonder that is Motion Synth (108% over goal).

Support Poligon on Kickstarter
Make your own PCM products with Ponoko

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Digital Fabrication, Functional Art + Ob..."
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 06:13

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #195

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above is a laser cut wood pet portrait from Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, cats, skulls, and kicks…

Above is a laser cut leather mask from Skadi Jewelry.

Above is a laser cut acrylic pendant from Bombshell Kitty Boutique.

Makerspace for teen entrepreneurs needs a laser cutter and you can help by supporting their Kickstarter

Author: "Sam" Tags: "Fashion + Textiles, Jewellery, Laser Cut..."
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Date: Saturday, 04 Oct 2014 00:00

How 3D printing went from pipe dream to your desktop

When Ponoko was founded back in 2006, we envisaged the third Industrial Revolution, where consumers of the future can download and make products at home. The road to distributed digital mass production was paved by the pioneering work of stereolithography inventor Chuck Hull and transformed once again with the rise and rise of MakerBot, to name just a few.

In a fantastically comprehensive article over on Digital Trends, the full history of 3D printing has been laid out in detail.

3D printers are all the rage with enthusiasts, but they didn’t just materialize out of nowhere like the sculptures they produce. Here’s the untold story of how the next big boom in technology came to be over 30 years.

It’s a fascinating story where dreams become reality and the stuff of science fiction enters our daily lives. We have seen this first-hand, with over 400,000 custom products produced online via Ponoko’s global network of digital making services.

Click through to Digital Trends to learn how other key influencers have helped shape the strange past and seemingly impossible future of distributed digital mass production over the past 30 years.

via Digital Trends: Manufacturing the Future

image thanks to Pete Golibersuch/Knurling LLC

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "3D Printing, Digital Fabrication, Guy Bl..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 02:55

Anatomy of a successful Kickstarter

Jeremy Williams is the San Francisco based engineer / hacker / programmer / maker / video game enthusiast behind the Game Frame, a fully-programmable grid of LEDs designed to make it easy to display animated pixel art and old-school video game graphics.

Earlier this year Jeremy raised over $154,000 on Kickstarter for the Game Frame – an amazing sum considering the project’s original $15,000 goal.

7 months later – With the last of the Kickstarter rewards fulfilled, we sat down with Jeremy to get some insight into what led to his amazingly successful campaign.

Here’s a look at what has happened before and after the campaign was funded, along with some important lessons—both good and bad—that crowdfunding hopefuls can learn from Jeremy’s success story.

Setting goals - How did you set your initial Kickstarter goal? Was it a manufacturing quantity price break you were trying to hit?

It was simply the number I needed to hit my vendors’ volume pricing. I firmly believe the lower you can make the goal, the better. People are more inclined to back when they will definitely receive a reward (i.e. funding has been met).

Stretching it - Your project raised a mind-blowing $154,647 of your original $15,000 goal. How did this affect your original plans?

Throughout the campaign, I always thought demand would taper off but it never did, thanks mainly to periodic press coverage. In the end, success didn’t have any real affect on my original plans except I have to work a lot longer to assemble the things. In retrospect I should have had a far-fetched contingency plan for 10x funding like I was lucky to get, perhaps with assembly help or even a molded/cast design that only makes sense in volume.

Planning it - What are a few key elements you incorporated into your project early on that ended up paying off later on?

Hm… I can only think of things I did NOT plan. I ended up adding an International tier half-way through the campaign once the volume of orders justified CE certification testing, but I probably should have just had this at launch. I also forgot to calculate CA sales tax into my numbers, and that’s no joke as you know. Finally, I wish I had a list of stretch goals planned instead of making them up as I went along.

Hitting goals - You nailed it in 4.5 hours, right? Do you have advise about setting stretch goals? Like, when do you advise adding these to a campaign, before launch or only after the goal is hit? Other?

I added more graphical content for each $10k over the goal, and then additional clock chips & functionality at $100k, but this was all discussed in “updates.” Ideally this should have been spotlit on the main page as a visual barometer. Actually, now that I think about it, it would probably be best to think about stretch goats before launch but wait a week before announcing/pricing them. This would allow you to get a feel for your funding trajectory and price your stretch goals along your profit vector (or just above it). This also gives you a nice built-in update scheduled, which the backers like.

Timing it - How long before your KS went live were you:
- building the product?
- building a following? (And did you direct this group to your KS page after it went live)?
- building the KS webpage?

I designed & coded the project for about 9 months before launching the Kickstarter, but I dragged my feet for months. (I had launched another project that crashed and burned, so didn’t have much faith in Game Frame.) The following I had was extremely fortuitous. The whole project evolved after I showed a very early prototype on an Internet show called Tested that my friends host. I had built the “pixel box” for myself, but the audience said I should crowdfund it. Over the next several months I redesigned it and mentioned Game Frame on their podcast a couple times. These fans of Tested, along with its hosts, are entirely responsible for the Twitter buzz that hit my goal in 4 hours. I have never witnessed the power of Twitter first hand before this, and it was extremely eye opening. Otherwise, I did not do my best to build buzz before launch. I didn’t even mention it on my own Facebook wall or tell my family I had launched, in fear that it would be embarrassing if it failed miserably.

I DID spend awhile on the KS page though. Probably two weeks, including the video shoot/edit. I put a lot of stock in presentation because the “pitch” itself is an example of a standard of quality. Hopefully if people see I care about the page, they’ll trust me to care about the product.

Pricing it - How did you set your pricing? Was it a realistic retail value? Were the early bird units sold at cost? What would you do next time?

Early birds weren’t sold at cost, but at half profit. I just sat down with my Google Spreadsheet and tinkered for a few days. I tried to get every tier (except early birds) to reflect the same (relatively low — 15-20%) profit margin, so I spent some time calculating all of the costs involved with each one. Then with the higher end rewards I increased the profit margin to balance things out. I limited the availability of the highest tiers out of necessity, but that’s also a good way to make them feel special to backers. I could have probably increased their prices even further, but my prices seemed fair. A lot of Kickstarters have the super high end tiers ($5k Producer level, $10k Founder level, etc.), and I suppose this is a good idea but I just couldn’t think of any rewards that would justify that range.

To do it again, I would have charged more for an assembled Game Frame and sold a kit version for $230. Two months of assembly is for the birds.

Stage of product development - Your product basically had all the wrinkles ironed out before the KS page goes live (right?). Comparing this approach with going live on KS at the other end of the spectrum with digital demos / renders (pre physical prototype) – what’s your recommended path … closer to one of these extremes?

When I launched, Kickstarter required hardware projects to have a physical prototype, and in fact disallowed renderings. This may have changed, as they just made a sweeping revamp of their rules. But regardless I believe that rule existed for a reason — it makes for a better, bankable pitch. I would strongly urge you to develop even the most basic of prototypes; something that demonstrates your personal curiosity and ingenuity regardless of whether you get funded.

Partners - How important to the market appeal/demand was the involvement of partners like eBoy? Do you recommend everyone try and find a brand name grand daddy in their space, or just nice to have?

That’s an interesting question. They were indispensable to me because I lack the ability to draw (in pixels or anything), and I needed awesome 16×16 graphics. They also did the logo, laser etched fonts, and system menus. They were very much my art department, and tied all of those elements together with a single aesthetic. So that’s important, but has nothing to do with their brand name. Where their celebrity was helpful was in getting press. The eBoy brand became the hook for articles to link to the project. That’s not to say every project needs this, but if possible I would suggest including a “celebrity” endorsement of some kind.

Video - Who did it, you or many people?

I did it. It’s been awhile, but I ran a video studio in Chicago several years ago. I actually didn’t want to do it myself, but it was definitely the right solution. I wanted some friends of mine who run a video house in the Mission to do it, but they needed $10,000+. In the end, I spent about $200 to rent some lights from Borrowlenses, shot it on my DSLR, and used an iPad teleprompter app along with an old lapel microphone. Score. The hardest part was scripting it and finding a vocal tone with the right balance of calm sincerity and enthusiasm. Many takes were shot.

Copy - Who did it, you or others too? (And how much input did the KS team have?)

Me. Another one of the recent changes made by Kickstarter is actually the ability to skip their review process. I would urge you not to skip this, because their feedback was helpful. They basically just asked me to add the section about the genesis of the project, and its journey from napkin sketch to prototype. This ended up making a better story, and I’m glad they asked for it.

Rewards - How did you set the reward tiers? For a relatively expensive complete project ($200+), were you trying to bring the median award cost down? What went well, and what would you do differently next time?

See pricing it above….

Promo - You had some great media coverage, both early on and right up until the end of the campaign – What was your strategy for networking with bloggers/writers/tech reviewers? 

All I learned is you can’t control this stuff. (I can’t, at least.) I sent out a press release to a handful of blogs at launch, and all of them ignored it. Then days and weeks later people started picking it up on their own, including two of the blogs I originally spammed (BoingBoing & The Verge). These sites are looking for content, so I guess it’s just a matter of getting on their radar. I was glad to see the coverage was mostly favorable, probably helped by the fact that they had “found” the story rather than being pitched it. Kickstarters are still cool, and people like to cover them. By sheer luck the press worked out exactly as it should have — interspersed throughout the campaign. You can see up ticks on my funding graph over on kicktraq that correspond to when articles hit the web on TechCrunch, BoingBoing, and The Verge.

Fulfillment - You’re at the sharp end of it now. Tell us your story of the feelings going from 10x success to the early realities of fulfillment, to then hitting June 2nd, your first ship date? And how this post campaign experience can be incorporated positively into the pre-campaign setup?

The short version is assign later ship dates than you think you’ll need. And then make them a little later. (You can’t change these dates after launch.) For some reason I felt like near ship dates would be an incentive to my backers, but honestly I don’t think it would have mattered one bit if they were a few months later. How do I know? Because I’ve already had to delay shipments two months and NOBODY CARES. Still, I feel horrible about the delay and every single day I’m stressing out because I want to stay on schedule as much as possible. It’s unhealthy, not worth it, and could have been avoided. Make those dates way down the line, and if you ship early, great. That’s my biggest lesson.

(I had to delay because the power supplies are delayed in manufacturing.)

Other - Besides the product itself, your partners, the community build prior to your KS page going live, the copywriting and video – what other resources were needed to launch your KS page? And what other resources were needed to promote your KS page?

You nailed it with that list. Coffee helps, too. As for promoting, do use kicktraq,com — I had some backers (and even friends) discover me through their RSS feed. Watch your incoming links in the Kickstarter backend and visit the sites linking to you to join in the comments — especially Reddit. Keep it real. Remember you can only control so much.

General - What are a few key things you learned that you think future maker/sellers using Kickstarter could benefit from knowing?

Your idea is everything. You could totally ignore everything I said above, and if your product is cool you’ll still be successful. If you make a cool product, people will want to back it, and journalists will want to write about it. There’s only so much you can do to affect that. Keep your video under 3 minutes (not always easy). Be passionate but down to earth. Kickstarter will show you the market for your idea. If a market exists, great! You’ll still have to seed your own capital if you want to make more beyond the backer rewards, but at least you’ll know the scope of the market.

And one last pro tip: you can’t change the main page after the funding period, so add a link to your web site at the top before it ends so late arrivals can follow the action.

Author: "Dan Devorkin" Tags: "Electronics + Robotics, Functional Art +..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 00:02

Along with the eggnog and scores of holiday-party invitations comes yet another seasonal tradition: Agencies and brands showing off their technical and creative chops with unique holiday promotions and client gifts.

One sure fire way to ensure this year’s holiday campaign stands out (amongst the scores of digital and traditional holiday cards) is to create something unique with your Personal Factory.

We’ve compiled 10 laser cut ideas that caught our eye and thought we’d “share” in the holiday cheer with some inspiration for your upcoming holiday campaigns.

#10 – Calendars
Keep your message on display year-round with gifts like this wood veneer calendar from Curious Doodles.

#9 – Posters
Add an extra dimension to this year’s message with a laser cut double layered poster like the one below, created for Project Passion by Ellen Schofield.

#8 – Business Cards
Reynaers, a European provider of architectural aluminum systems, created their christmas card with a unique laser cut star pattern that users pull up from the middle to display a Christmas tree:

#7 – Keychains
Keep your brand’s logo close at hand with a dog-tag or keychain like these Cute Wooden Muffin Keychains from SpaceSheep:

#6 – Beer Tote
A marketing gift that is as functional as it is beautiful is always appreciated, like this Laser Cut Beer Case designed by Eric Torres:

#5 – Coasters
Protect countertops and furniture while simultaneously showcasing your logo with coasters like these laser cut bamboo wine coasters from Dimlin

#4 – Ornaments
Spread holiday cheer with custom cut decorations like these typographic ampersand ornaments from ugmonk:

#3 – Magnets
Stick around in the homes of customers & clients with magnets like this laser cut and etched bass wood fish magnet from Humble Elephant:

#2 – Bookmarks
An old-fashioned bookmark – like this one laser cut from wood paper by hallobulloon – is an effective promotional item that can also be relatively cost-effective.

#1 – Clocks
Promote your agency with a timeless gift your clients will appreciate- like this bamboo buddy owl clock from Decoy Lab:

Whether you’re a creative agency looking to boost your impact, or your brand customer’s impact this holiday season- we hope you’ve found this inspiring. Can’t wait to see what you make!

Author: "Dan Devorkin" Tags: "Design, Functional Art + Objects, Laser ..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 17:55

Miniature alphabet that you can squeeze just about anywhere

When adding small text to a laser etched design, you want to make sure the font you choose will be legible.

This tiny stroke-only alphabet is available to download from the Ponoko Showroom. The free file contains the entire alphabet plus punctuations, brackets and a few other randoms. Characters are only 1mm tall. Any smaller and you will start to loose the inside of characters like ‘A’ and ‘B’ using the heavy vector setting.

On a light wood like the bamboo the light vector setting seems to work well; while the heavy setting on plastics allow you to paint fill to improve readability.

This character set was based on the free pixel font “Wendy” which you can find on dafont. Wendy was used by Stroke-Only Font creator Josh as an initial guide when laying out the line segments. Unlike the pixel font, for this example, as many line segments as possible are joined to allow easy scaling up to larger sizes.

It is worth noting that these are only grouped lines, so you’ll need to manually place letters onto your design one by one.

Using a mini font like this is worth a try if you want to inexpensively add tiny part numbers or a website/email address to your designs.

If laser engraved fonts are your thing, the Evil Mad Scientists have a great Inkscape extension that is enables even more versatility.

This post originally appeared in an article by Josh Reuss on the Ponoko Support Forums.

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Downloadable, Guy Blashki, Laser Cutting..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 01:33

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #194

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above are laser cut acrylic bottle stoppers from B Goods.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, germs, ravens buttons, and other birds…

Above are laser cut acrylic virus tokens (for a Pandemic board game) from Ulski Design.

Above is a laser cut leather ravens necklace from Surly Bunny.

Above are laser cut adler wood oyster buttons from Aunty Bea & Co.

Above is a laser cut wood greeting card from The Birdhouse Collection.

Author: "Sam" Tags: "Fashion + Textiles, Functional Art + Obj..."
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 05:38

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #193

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above is a laser cut birch wood coaster from Green Wood LT.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, buttons, ties, flowers, and sentiments…

Above are laser cut black cherry wood buttons from Timber Green Woods.

Above it a laser cut and etched wood pet id tag from Cropscotch,

Above is a laser cut paper card from East Hill Ornament.

Above is a laser cut and painted birch “We Hate Everything Together” from 6 By 6 Arts.

Author: "Sam" Tags: "Art, Fashion + Textiles, Functional Art ..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 19:09

Full Printed from nueveojos on Vimeo.

We have a part time Customer Success Manager role (developing into a full time role) for a maker / designer / hacker to support our customers to make their custom products online. And to help us change the world.


* You believe what we believe – that consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like ‘digital Ikea’).

* You value what we value.

* You have a deep desire to help others make their own custom products. This will make it easy for you to smile, persevere and shine through the ups and downs our customer’s experience on their personal creative journeys, and the ups and downs we experience on ours.

* You are:

- A designer / maker / hacker. With the empathy and communication skills of a teacher.

- An expert in these design software apps, plus Meshlab and Netfabb.

- Experienced with laser cutters and 3D printers (both desktop and pro), with a practical understanding of the properties of these materials.

- A natural at online communication, familiar with Zendesk, Twitter and Facebook to reactively support customers online.

- Someone who works harmoniously with your team members to delight customers.

- Cool under extreme pressure, and radiate this with customers and your team members.

- A happy soul, empathetic, with an ‘excited’ online voice.

- Proactive. Detailed. Process driven. All three.

- Someone who likes to lead, and you enjoy working independently.

- Effective at multi ­tasking and prioritizing the daily rush of tasks that come in a startup.

- Someone who understands you get out of life what you put into it. And to change the world this means stepping forward and grabbing at responsibility.


You’ll be our voice to the world. You’ll be our customer’s voice to our team. You’ll support our customers to make their custom products online.

Your typical day includes:

* Achieving 2 key goals – quality and speed of service. Both measured and reported weekly.

* Responding to inbound chat, email and social media questions relating to customer orders, product design file preparation, materials selection, pricing and our service generally.

* Liaising with our production team to ensure on-time delivery of quality custom products.

* Delighting our customers with the unexpected, and putting a smile on their faces, particularly when all seemed lost.

* Attending 2 weekly meetings – one full team discussion about company and individual results, plus one support and production teams discussion about customer experience.

* Identifying problems with and improving our workflows to delight customers.

* As a bonus, creating or editing online help content for customers to help themselves.


* Freedom and independence to run your own ship.
* Feeling that your work day means something and makes a difference.
* Market salary.
* Unlimited paid time off.
* Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.


Dreamed up in 2006, Ponoko believes consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like ‘digital Ikea’).

We foresaw the third industrial revolution (distributed digital mass production) growing out of the first and second industrial revolutions (centralised analog mass production).

Hence in 2007 Ponoko launched at the first TechCrunch conference and became the world’s first to enable designers to both make and sell their products online.

Since then a community of 125,000 makers, designers, hackers, brands and businesses have made over 400,000 custom products online. And they’ve sold them via our website, their websites, ETSY, Kickstarter, design events, and to main street retailers.

With free digital prototyping to get a design just right, no minimum order size to get started, and on-demand production available within 1 day to eliminate investment in stock, we’ve make it 10x faster than ever before for designers to prototype, make and sell their custom product ideas online.

Recognised as a pioneering leader of the online digital making industry, we have been featured in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN Money, Inc. Magazine (cover), Forbes, Wired, Core77, TechCrunch, Makezine, MIT Technology Review, BBC News and The Economist.

Your appointment will enable us to continue to support our existing customers, and to hatch a new 3D printing initiative to transform our industry again.


Send an email to derek-at-ponoko-dot-com to introduce yourself, send your resume, and your answers to these 3 questions:

1) Why do you want this role?
2) What gaps might exist between what we need and what you have?
3) Why are you the best person for this role?

We’re looking forward to meeting you :)

Author: "Dan Devorkin" Tags: "Good Stuff, Job openings, Ponoko"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 18:00

Compensating for different material widths when scaling your laser cut designs

Parametric Design is awesome, and makes for fewer headaches when it comes to changing a few details here and there. Well… most of the time, at least. Sometimes all those numbers can get a little complex but Martin Raynsford has developed a way to ‘cheat’ the parametric design process while scaling down his neat little laser cut catapults.

Because the design consists entirely of laser cut parts, his mini catapult can be scaled using a base version of the file where material width acts as the key piece of information. He explains his thinking and practical techniques in yet another informative blog post, and you can even download the .svg file to give it a go yourself.

If you’ve heard of the term Parametric Design but need a little refresher on just how handy it can be when applied to laser cutting projects, check out this tabbed box maker. It’s a great example of true parametric design in action.

Read more about Martin’s technique at the source article, and while you are there don’t forget to have a peek in the store because his laser cut designs are available to buy in kit form as well.

via Martin Raynsford: Cheats Parametric

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Guy Blashki, Laser Cut Wood, Laser Cutti..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 21:13

Useful tips to get the optimum cut quality from this versatile material

Both NZ and US hubs now offer several cardstock options.  This material is a wonderful choice for greeting cards, business cards, model making and packaging.

Cardstock cuts slightly differently from other materials in the Ponoko catalogues, so there are a few useful things to know to get the optimum cut quality for your project.  Some of these are mentioned in the material pages, such as designing around small light pieces that can shift during cutting.  We always strongly advise that you carefully read material information to get a clearer idea of what results to expect.  Material samples are another handy reference, although we stress that every project is different, and prototyping is the only way to ensure the best outcome.

Something to keep in mind is that many of the mass-produced, intricately cut card products on the market are not laser cut but stamped out with a die – like a cookie cutter.  A laser cuts by burning, so some discoloration can be expected around cut marks.  This is an inherent part of the laser cutting process and can be seen in the catalogue material photos.  

Because cardstock is thin and not particularly durable, it can not be masked with protective tape, unlike other materials.  Protective tape shields the material from heat flare, and no tape means that the underside of the card will have discoloration marks.  These are more obvious on light colored card.  The example below shows the underside marking at its worst, although there is no discernable discoloration on the “design” side – it looks great despite the intricate detail.

And the underside detail:

So with this in mind, here are a few tips to design for laser cutting card stock:

• Choose black cardstock for a double-sided design
• Mirror your design, cut right and left and then laminate the two sides with the undersides together to conceal them
• Line your cut card with a blank sheet of material as a design feature
• Incorporate raster and/or vector engraving into your design to add detail without cutting through the material

The black card is an example of lining with a mirror design, while the white card shows contrasting blank lining.

Cardstock is a popular material in gift packaging, such as wedding favors, etc.  istockpack is a handy resource for free packaging templates.  We will be adding some Ponoko-ready packaging files into the showroom in the future.  When designing anything that requires folding, incorporate score lines into your design.  If you’re using thinner cardstock, medium vector engraving will produce a clean fold.  For thicker card, such as the NZ Box Board, heavy engraving will work better.  Cardstock engraves beautifully – check out the material catalogue photos.

When folded or assembled into a 3D form, card will be much more rigid and stable.  The placeholder below holds its shape perfectly with a clean score line, and it can be cut from any cardstock.  The table that looks like a Madebydan coffee table is, in fact, a miniature version measuring only 66mm square.  The level of detail is impressive, and this will work well with the Box Board.

One of the great features of cardstock is that you don’t need any specialised adhesives for assembly.  The most useful: double-sided tape, glue sticks and PVA glue are probably something that you have in your stationery supplies already.  Pretty much any water-based adhesive, such as wood glue or craft glue will work well.  Remember to practice your gluing first as it can get messy if you’re not careful.

Photo sources: butterfly favor boxfall favour boxesbutterfly.  Rest – Ponoko.

This post originally appeared in the Ponoko Support Forums.

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Guy Blashki, Laser Cutting, Laser Cuttin..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 01:05

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Author: "Ponoko Team" Tags: "Ponoko News"
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 18:00

PrintEat 3D printable pasta competition

Being creative is hungry work, so it is no surprise that designers continue to amuse themselves by 3D printing food in ever new and delicious ways.

Set to revolutionize the concept of pasta, PrintEat is a competition over on Thingarage that probes into the future of the king of carbs. Will we one day sit down at the local trattoria and print out a dish of custom pasta right at the table?

Entrants will be challenged to:

“…subvert the traditional patterns of production (extrusion and mold) by producing morphologies that can be realized only through 3D printing”

If you think this sounds like some tasty fun, then head over to Thingarage where you can sign up to get cooking on your chance to win a share of the €2400 price money. Entries are open to the global design community and there are still (at the time of writing) 30 days left before the judges work up an appetite choosing which concepts will feature on the Specials board.

via Thingarage

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "3D Printing, Contests + Competitions, Gu..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 17:50

How to get the most out of your Ponoko order

When you make something with Ponoko, there are 3 key costs to consider: making, materials, and shipping.

Making cost is all about labor — mostly machine labor and a little bit of human labor. Think of your design file as a work order, a set of instructions for the machine to follow. The simpler and more efficient your instructions are, the less time it takes the machine to follow them. And that means less making costs.

Here are a few tips and tricks direct from the Ponoko team that you can use to optimize your design file and help get you the lowest cost possible for your laser cut project.

The key thing to remember with laser-cutting is that you’re paying for the *time* your design spends on the laser cutter.

“If it’s your first time making something, start small with a P1 size material sheet. The smaller dimension will help constrain the amount of making time, and your material cost will be lower.” ~ Yana

“When it comes to laser-cutting, the more complex and detailed your design is the more expensive it will be to make. So when you can, and especially for beginners, I suggest starting with simple designs that aren’t too intricate.” ~ Christina

“Print out your design on paper first. You could consider this a free and instant first prototype. It’s the ideal way to spot sizing errors, see whether you’ve made holes big enough, and get a feel for what your final result will look like.” ~ Josh J.

“For any new design, I often recommend making a cardboard version first. Cardboard is one of our most affordable materials, and the laser can cut it really quickly; so you can get an inexpensive test run of your design. Then when you’re happy with the cardboard version, you can order your design in the material you want and feel more assured that it will come out the way you want.” ~ Josh R.

“One thing to remember is that the laser cuts the material by burning it. So thinner materials will cut faster than thicker materials. The laser is also faster at cutting straight lines than curves.” ~ Catherine

“Try to make all the pieces of your design fit together like a puzzle instead of scattered around the template. See if there are any pieces that could actually share a cutting line*. And put the rest of the pieces close together, but be sure to leave enough space for the kerf (how much material the laser burns away).” ~ Dan

*If pieces in your design share a cutting line, you must remove any “double lines” created by the overlap. Check our design starter kit for more info.

“Raster Fill Engraving is a very time consuming process, similar to how a dot-matrix printer works. For creating details in your design, I usually recommend using Vector Engraving instead. If you do use Raster Fill Engraving, try to keep the engraved areas as close together on the template as possible.” ~ Josh J.

Now you’ve heard the tips from our in-house experts, here is a summary of how to keep your laser cutting costs down:

• Time = money
• For beginners, start with a small size material (P1) and a simple design.
• Print your design out on paper to spot any immediate problems with the design.
• Make a cardboard prototype. You won’t regret it.
• Keep in mind that different materials burn at different rates.
• Fit the pieces of your design close (but not too, too close) together.
• Consider whether Vector Engraving is a better option than Raster Fill Engraving

Originally posted on the Ponoko Support Forums

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Guy Blashki, Laser Cutting, Personal Fac..."
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 04:02

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #192

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above are laser cut and etched wood coasters from C+M Designs.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, ships in bottles, owls and pussycats, bears, posters, and escapes…

Above is a laser cut acrylic ship in a bottle necklace from Swank.

Above is a laser cut bamboo brooch from Tiger & Hare.

Laser cut cut wood grizzly bear origami from Whimsical Duchess.

Above is a laser cut, double layered poster for Project Passion from Ellen Schofield.

Above is  a laser cut fire escape greeting card from Two Hermanas.

Author: "Sam" Tags: "Art, Functional Art + Objects, Jewellery..."
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 18:00

Zapping tasty treats with some personalised graphics

While delicious pastries may not be one of the options in the Ponoko Materials Catalog, we do find our mouths watering each time someone fires up their laser cutter for a burst of culinary creativity.

Proving once again that adding a personal touch to your midday meal can be an almost religious experience, Christopher Short etched this enigmatic dinosaur onto his quesadillas. Yum.

Watch the following clip to see the laser do its thing in real-time…

You can find more laser etching and cutting to enjoy from Christopher on YouTube.

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Functional Art + Objects, Guy Blashki, L..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 17:50

Slicing up a T-Rex for laser cutting that roars

The software options available to digital makers just keeps getting better, and one of our recent favourites would have to be Autodesk’s 123D Make.

Why do we like 123D Make so much? Simply put, it just works and really is as easy as 1, 2… 3. The freely available software takes a 3D model and slices it up, then exports the data for laser cutting.

As you’ll see in the following tutorial, there are several very handy (and quite powerful) capabilities built in to 123D Make that help ensure your final result comes together just right.  

This tutorial was originally posted on Instructables, and has been put together by Penfold Merton who you may remember from that fantastic laser cut mechanical business card a few years back.

Let’s have a quick look at what is covered in the tutorial. Learn how to:

• Get set up with 123D Make (available for Mac, PC, iOS and web app)
• Download or create an .stl file you’d like to use (T-Rex available here)
• Choose a construction technique: Stacked Slices
• Set material, print dimensions and object size
• Re-orient slices to optimise construction
• Review assembly instructions
• Output an .eps file for laser cutting
• Assemble and enjoy. Raaaargh.

Some of the neat features of 123D Make covered in Penfold’s tutorial include identifying weak points and errors when setting material and defining slices, and also automatically adding labels and alignment markings to all of your slices. This means that not only are you more likely to have a final construction that has structural integrity; it will also be considerably easier to assemble.

See the full tutorial on Instructables where we also spotted this user submitted version. By slicing off the back half of the T-Rex, it now looks like it is rising up out of the table…

via: Instructables – How to slice up a T-Rex using 123D  Make.

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Guy Blashki, Laser Cutting, Laser Cuttin..."
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Date: Monday, 08 Sep 2014 04:25

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #191

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above is a laser cut and etched leather owl bracelet from Dymond Designs.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, tubes, lagoons, and guest books…

Above is laser cut acrylic London Underground sign from Capola Online.

Laser cut acrylic Creature From The Black Lagoon magnet from 3 Quarter Moon Creative.

Above is a laser cut wood guest book from Once Upon a Paper.

Author: "Sam" Tags: "Laser Cut Acrylic, Laser Cut Leather, La..."
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Date: Friday, 05 Sep 2014 17:55

Coils that run rings around Slinky

Thanks to the addition of a rotary attachment for his laser cutter, Adam Watters has spent several months exploring what happens when you cut helical paths onto cylinders.

The variety of outcomes shows that there is a whole lot further to go with Springs than the trusty old Slinky would have us believe. Working in materials including acrylic, cardboard and 3d printed PLA, he has created a range of forms that have a mathematical beauty both as static objects and when in motion.

Discovering new patterns and the shapes and forms that follow has been a rewarding process for Adam. When questioned as to what the point of it all is, he had this to say:

For a little while, I turned my attention to finding an application for these, but that proved to be way less fun than experimenting with the process and cutting new springs. So for now, they are what they are.

Head over to Instructables where you can read all about laser cutting acrylic and cardboard springs, from a straightforward spiral through to cuboid grids, nested coils and even compression springs that take things in another direction entirely.

via Instructables: Laser Cut Helical Springs

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Functional Art + Objects, Guy Blashki, L..."
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 17:59

Ponoko’s most popular materials for laser cutting with pricing info, pros and cons, and example project ideas

The Ponoko Materials Catalog offers a wide variety of high quality sheet materials for laser cutting. From those awesome new Premium materials down to plain old (but ever-so-useful) cardboard, there is a material option for every making scenario. Each material is thoroughly tested to ensure that it cuts cleanly, engraves nicely and just generally looks good. With all these great materials on offer, how do you know which one to choose?

Here is a snapshot of the top ten materials available for laser cutting in your Ponoko Personal Factory. Each material overview includes a price range for the Ponoko sheet sizes, the number of varieties to choose from, and also important information about pros, cons and suggested usage scenarios.


Pricing: 50 cents to $4.00
Varieties: 4 different types
Pros: Inexpensive, recyclable, easy to paint, easy to join (tape, glue, staples)
Cons: Low durability, not suited to raster engraving
Great for: early prototypes, package design, crafts, kids projects
Make something with cardboard!


Pricing: $2 to $86
Varieties: 30 different types + colors, up to 6 different thicknesses
Pros: High quality look and finish, high level of detail possible, engraves well, affordable
Cons: Can crack under stress, can scratch
Great for: jewelry, hardware/electronic enclosures, signage, ornaments, wall art, mobiles
Make something with acrylic!


Pricing: $3.50 to $33
Varieties: 2 different types, 2 different thicknesses
Pros: High quality look and finish, affordable, renewable resource
Cons: Engraving results are inconsistent, large sheets are prone to warping
Great for: jewelry, coasters, clocks, ornaments, picture frames, boxes, wall art, mobiles
Make something with bamboo!


Pricing: $3.50 to $34
Varieties: 2 different thicknesses
Pros: Affordable, engraves well, easy to stain
Cons: Slightly rough unfinished surface
Great for: crafts, models, home decor, kids projects
Make something with plywood!


Pricing: $7 to $45
Varieties: 15 different colors, up to 2 thicknesses
Pros: 100% wool, high quality look and finish, renewable resource
Cons: Strong burn smell, dark burned edge color
Great for: jewelry, coasters, trivets, crafts, ornaments, lining
Make something with felt!


Pricing: $6 to $58.50
Varieties: 3 different colors
Pros: Reflective, interesting effects possible, high quality look and finish, engraves well
Cons: Can crack under stress, can scratch, prone to warping
Great for: jewelry, signage, home decor, wall art, ornaments
Make something with mirror acrylic!


Pricing: $4.50 to $26
Varieties: 1 type
Pros: Flexible, renewable resource
Cons: Does not raster engrave well
Great for: cushioning/padding, coasters, crafts, kids projects, pin boards
Make something with cork!


Pricing: $3.50 to $26
Varieties: 3 different types
Pros: High quality look and finish, engraves well, solid/substantial feel
Cons: Inconsistent thickness between supply batches
Great for: clocks, magnets, puzzles, coasters, ornaments, jewelry, picture frames
Make something with wood veneer MDF!


Pricing: $13 to $104.50
Varieties: 5 different colors
Pros: High quality look and finish, flexible, soft suede on back side,
Cons: Expensive, low in-house inventory
Great for: bracelets, bags, wallets, book covers, glasses case, iphone/ipad cases, zipper pulls
Make something with leather!


Pricing: $2 to $11
Varieties: 1 type
Pros: High quality look and finish, wipable melamine surface on both sides
Cons: Only 1 thickness available
Great for: countertops, tabletops, placemats, shelving
Make something with melamine MDF!

Author: "Guy Blashki" Tags: "Guy Blashki, Laser Cutting, Materials, M..."
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