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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Pro yo-yoer creates & demos flatpack lasercut yo-yo

Ponoko-made project by Drew Tetz

Drew Tetz is a professional yo-yoer who travels the country competing as part of the official Duncan Crew. When it’s not yo-yo time, he works as a graphic designer in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Drew has combined his design skills and yo-yo know-how to create a flatpack yo-yo with Ponoko. His design was a runner-up in the recent EvD lasercut toy design competition, and you can see him assemble and demo the yo-yo in the video below.

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Transforming robot made with 3D printed parts

Fully functional Autobot transforms from Robot to Car in seconds

A walking, bipedal robot that can transform into a sleek street car may sound like the stuff of Hollywood fiction, but visitors to the Maker Faire in Tokyo next week will be in for a treat when they encounter the Brave Robotics Transforming Robot 7.2.

The latest incarnation from these masters of automation, this 1:12 scale robot can walk around in the familiar shuffling gait of its humanoid counterparts, while shooting missiles from weaponised forearms. In a matter of seconds the robot transforms into a fully functional vehicle that can be driven around just like a standard RC toy car. Further enhancements include a wifi camera that sends a live stream from the transforming robot to a nearby tablet.

Click through for an impressive video highlighting just what this robot can do.   (more…)

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Low-Tech Factory: Animal Growth

Simple technologies enable objects to take form before your eyes

One of the gorgeous explorations from the students at ECAL, the University of Art and Design Lausanne, Animal Growth challenges the automated production processes that most designers have come to rely on.

In Animal Growth, simple hand tools are utilised to break down the manufacturing process of expanded foam animal toys. Templates that enable an operator to cut, glue, and fill the animal form have the appearance of something much more refined than the prototyping model-shop roots that these techniques would suggest.

The Low-Tech Factory projects were recently exhibited as a part of a local design festival, and showcased six fun, unique production processes. Each project is supported by an engaging video of the process in action, where you can really get a taste for the physicality of the forms as they come to life before your eyes.

“Students look at showcasing the manufacturing process of an object, from the machine to the finished product.”

Click through to see the Animal Growth clip, and we’ve also thrown in the other quirky Low-Tech Factory videos. They’re just too good to skip over.

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2012 Holiday Gift Guide — from $5 to $1500

Ponoko-made presents!

Our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide features a range of jewelry, home decor, gadgets, and holiday goodies all made by our creative customers.

We’ve featured gifts to fit any budget, from $5 moustache earbud wraps to custom computers starting at $259. Whether you’re looking for something for a geek, biker, gamer, crafter, hostess, or girlie girl, we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to see the 32 products featured or jump to our Holiday Gift Guide on Pinterest.

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