30 Holiday Gifts Created by Independent Designers

2013 Holiday Gift Guide

holiday gift guide

Cat silhouette snowflake ornaments? Check! Quotation mark earring studs? Yes! Full moon wall clock? Got it! DNA sequencer? Sho ‘nuf.

These are just a few of the fantastic things on our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide featuring original designs from Ponoko customers.

We’ve selected 30 different products this year to fit all budgets and suit everyone from your sister to your boss.

Check out our Gift Guide on Pinterest, and support independent designers this holiday season!

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Think You’re Too Busy to Start Your Own Product Line? ROBOMUSTACHE Proves it’s Possible!

Ponoko-made products from Charles Wade

Charles Wade is a busy guy. He works at a newspaper in North Carolina doing graphic design, web development, social media, and IT; and teaches graphic design and multi media at a nearby college.

But despite his packed schedule, Charles was able to start a product line in time to sell at a local festival.

His side business, ROBOMUSTACHE, sells blocky wooden animals and robots, printed paper craft creatures, and more.

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Laser cut kit lets you build your own honeymoon

Ponoko-made project by Michiel Post van der Molen

“I had known about Ponoko for a long time,” says Michiel, “but never had a great reason to use the service.”

That reason finally came while he and his soon-to-be wife Jo-Ann planned their Berkeley, California wedding. “Many of our guests were traveling from different countries, and we wanted to give them something special to say thanks for making the journey,” Michiel explains.

His idea was to use our laser cutting service to create a DIY kit that let people build their own honeymoon scenes.

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Awesome laser cut Castle Under Attack features working catapult & trebuchet

Ponoko-made project by Andrea Garuti

Andrea Garuti’s engineering skills earned him the grand prize in the GrabCAD/SolidSmack laser cut toy design competition.

His castle-under-attack toy model — complete with draw bridges, trebuchet, catapult, battleram, and a basilica — blew away all the judges.

Andrea’s inspiration came from the medieval history surrounding his home near Modena, Italy. “It’s not a strict reproduction of a real castle. I wanted to include as many medieval elements as I could,” he says.

As part of the prize, Ponoko sponsored free laser cutting for the winner. Andrea’s epic design required thirty-two P3 (about 31″x15″) size sheets. Rather than ship an entire castle battle over from the US, we worked with our friends Vectorealism, a laser cutting service based in Milan, to have Andrea’s design made closer to home.

The picture below of Andrea’s son standing behind the castle walls demonstrates just how big this toy is!

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Free-Form 3D Printed Marble Elevator

Marblevator: a fully configurable marble run you can print yourself

This Thingiverse project from dedicated enthusiast gzumwalt has what it takes to give a 21st Century twist to an age-old favourite toy.

The Marblevator (marble elevator) is at the heart of it all, endlessly stepping little balls up until they meet with the whims of gravity. Additional track segments easily snap together and clever height-adjustable tressels combine to allow you to build with complete freedom, creating one of those mesmerising toys that you could happily lose yourself in for hours on end.

Click through to see more detail on the tressel mechanism, as well as a collection of video clips of those balls going round and round and round.

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3D prints from the winners of the ZW3D + GrabCAD design challenge

Ponoko-made projects from Tan Tek Wee and Antonio Barber

Last winter Ponoko teamed up with 3D software program ZW3D and 3D model library GrabCAD to 3D print the winners of their Holiday Design Challenge.

There were over 85 entries from around the world, and we’ve checked in with the winners to share their experience and final 3D printed designs.

Tan Teck Wee of Singapore won first prize with his flying toy train.

“I’m always looking out for other CAD software,” says Tan, a professional software developer and 3D printing hobbyist.

As a hobbyist, he was excited to see the quality of the commercial print from Ponoko which was made with a combination of our white Superfine Plastic and green Durable Fine Plastic.

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Miniature midcentury furniture for your modern dollhouse

Ponoko-made project by Diana and Shamir Colloff

A few months ago, San Francisco couple Diana and Shamir opened an Etsy shop called Cufflinks Cowboy Boots. And yes, initially it sold cufflinks in the shape of cowboy boots.

But in addition to the growing number of cufflink designs, the shop has also started selling a series of modern dollhouse furnishings.

“There are only a few stores that sell dollhouse items, and almost all of them focus on Victorian-age furniture, like stuff you would see in your grandma’s house,” says Diana.

“I have three dollhouses and wanted to furnish them in a contemporary/modern style, but there weren’t enough choices out there.” That’s where Ponoko’s lasercutting service came in.

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Children’s drawings become 3D printed figurines

Bring that one-of-a-kind masterpiece to life

Going one step further than sticking those kiddie scribbles on the fridge, Crayon Creatures is now providing proud parents with a unique 3D printing service.

All that’s required is a 2D drawing fresh from the child’s imagination, which is scanned and inflated to form a volumetric model with 3D contours. This data is then printed on a ZCorp 3D printer and shipped back to the family home.

Knowing how quickly kids move from one playful fantasy to the next, it is possible that by the time you receive your print the ‘artist’ has forgotten drawing it altogether! Even still, just watch those smiles of delight as their imagination is brought to life.

Pictured above is the mysterious incarnation titled Hamster on a Speedboat. Click through to the source for more examples from Crayon Creatures.

Crayon Creatures via SolidSmack

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Circuit Playground teaches kids about electronics

Web series uses puppets to inspire the next generation of inventors


Adafruit continues in their quest to make DIY electronics easy for all ages with Circuit Playground, a children’s web series that teaches electronics in a quirky and fun way.

“We’ll have each component have a story, a song and something to do”

From Cappy the Capacitor to Hans the 555 Timer Chip, this light-hearted approach will enable enquiring youngsters to immerse themselves in technology as they gain valuable real-world knowledge.

Supporting the show there are additional fun low-tech teaching aids including a colouring book and a set of plush dolls that will bring the characters to life. Combine this with the Circuit Playground iOS app and you’ve got plenty to not only keep the kids entertained and engaged with the learning process, but also maintain the underlying goal of inspiring the next generation of engineers.

“We want to celebrate the fun and good parts of making things, and even tackle complex subjects like what’s ‘good’ to make”

Circuit Playground is scheduled to air in March on Google+ and Ustream.

via Wired

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The King of CNC heading to a printer near you

Indiegogo campaign spreads the word about DIY digital manufacturing

What exactly does it take to be crowned the king of CNC? Amongst those jostling for Regal top honors is the prolific and wildly enthusiastic Jon Cantin, a fellow you may recall as the guy behind WoodMarvels, now known as CNCKing.com.

Jon has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make Volume 4 of his CNC book series available to a wider audience. It draws on many years of experience making children’s toys using the distributed manufacturing models offered by companies such as Ponoko.

This book contains all the knowledge I wish I had access to all those years back… if you want to learn how to design using a CNC table router or laser cutter, you must add this book to your library!

Beyond selling a few books, a broader goal of the campaign is to encourage more kids and educators to embrace the potential that CNC machines have to change peoples’ lives. Jon imagines a day when children ask Santa for a CNC machine so that they can build their own toys.

Learn more about the campaign and pledge your support at Indiegogo.

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