Piccolo tiny CNC platform

Pocket-sized printing at a suitably tiny price

Even with the various DIY kits and systems available these days, the costs involved can be prohibitive for new enthusiasts trying to get set up with quality CNC equipment. But not for long…

The Piccolo CNC platform is a pocket-sized stand-alone device that will soon be available for under $70. This diminutive laser-cut wonder is capable of more than just plotting graphic designs. It includes Arduino and Processing libraries that enable the device to move autonomously or respond to sensors and data. Multiple Piccolo plotters can be programmed to work together to create large scale outcomes, and the platform is also just right for further experimentation in either 2D or 3D fabrication.

Piccolo is being developed by Diatom (who you may remember from the wildly successful SketchChair project) in a collaboration with Cheng Xu and Huaishu Peng from the CoDe Lab.

We are currently refining the Piccolo prototype into an open-source design that is simple, quick to assemble, and easy to use, and is entirely composed of digitally manufactured components and inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware.

Click through for a perky little demo clip of the Piccolo CNC-bot in action.   (more…)

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Personal Factory Projects for The Kids

Plus make-your-own Kid Stuff with FREE filesGot kids? Know someone who does? There are always some running about, squealing, getting in the way and demanding treats. At least that’s what I hear. So what can you do? You can 1) ignore them, 2) tell them to get back in their cupboard, 3) buy them something plastic from the nearest department store, 4) buy them something that didn’t get assembled by their peers in a third world country somewhere, 5) make them something yourself. The good news is that we can help with the last two.

Ideas, inspiration and free stuff after the jump:

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Rules & guides for making your own CNC routed projects with Ponoko

3 helpful forum posts

In addition to lasercutting and 3D printing, Ponoko lets you make your own stuff with CNC routing.

Working with CNC routing lets you make much bigger stuff than you can make with lasercutting. But it’s a tricky technique to work with, so we’ve put together some rules and guides to help you get the best results from your CNC project.

The first thing you’re going to want to check out is Things You Must Know for CNC Routing. This forum post will walk you through 11 key considerations when using CNC, things like minimum and maximum design size, required width of the tool path, and how to format your design file.

Once you know the rules, you can move on to the guides on how to offset your lines for CNC routing. We’ve even got a video of the process.

If you use Inkscape, follow this guide. If you use Illustrator, follow this guide.

If you’ve got questions, please leave them in the forum. And if you’ve used Ponoko for CNC routing, we welcome any tips & tricks from the community.

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Ten alluring works of digitally produced art from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011: Art

Take a moment to step back and see the world a little differently with this selection of ten memorable works of art that appeared on the Ponoko blog during 2011.

From unique perspectives on everyday objects to different ways of capturing and expressing movement, join us to explore how artists continue to use digital manufacturing technologies in new and exciting ways.

1. Sculptures made with motion capture, 3D printing and bronze casting

The mesmerising motion of professional dancers and martial artists is captured in this intriguing project by Mathew Schwartz. Data from the sinuous movements is 3D printed before being cast in bronze, giving a unique perspective on human movement that would surely have Muybridge’s nod of approval.

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When digital fabrication meets architecture — 10 awesome structures from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Architecture

From open-source buildings and zero-waste designs to scale models and temporary structures, here are ten awesome examples of what can happen when the tools of digital fabrication are in service to the field of architecture.

1. The world’s largest wooden structure


The enormous Metropol Parasol pavilion was erected in Seville, Spain last year. Spanning 230ft wide and 490ft long, the pavilion is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world.

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Ten magnificent materials stories from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Materials

Digital manufacturing techniques like 3d printing, laser cutting, and CNC routing are pretty amazing, but they’re only as good as the materials they use. Thankfully we live in a time where research efforts are bringing out new materials all the time. Here’s a round up of some of the best news in materials in 2011, including some giveaways and special deals.

1. Molding precise parts with Sugru


Sugru is every hacker’s favourite silicone rubber material. Here’s a story on how you can use it mold precise flexible parts like a pro. And hey, get in quick and you can win a multi-colour pack of Sugru to play with.

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Small Business Stories: creating a show-stopping trade show booth

Retail Ready with Made On Jupiter

If you’re a small business owner, exhibiting at a trade show is something that can really boost your business. Not only will you meet lots of prospective clients and buyers, but those places are always packed with members of the press. I’ve been to a handful of ICFFs, Stationery Shows, NeoCons, and lots of art fairs — and let me tell you, your booth design makes all the difference.

When it comes to trade shows, your booth matters more than your product. So what does it take to create a booth everyone wants to visit? Well it isn’t easy, but it’s certainly attainable.

Just ask Made on Jupiter, the digital fabrication specialist branch of New Zealand based design collective Jupiter Jazz.

Their latest project was the Puffer, a cumulus-cloud looking trade show booth developed for Siggraph Asia. The time lapse video above shows the assembly of over 1000 uniquely shaped cones to create the booth.

Tom Kluyskens published a detailed account of how his team went from design idea to booth build in less than 5 weeks.

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CNC milled wooden high heels

Using digital fabrication to explore new forms for shoes.

These experimental shoes by designer Cat Potter were shaped from solid blocks of wood with a 3-axis CNC milling machine. Afterwards, metal hinges and closures were added to make the shoe functional. The digital files were made by DotSan.

From the designer:

Using wood in conjunction with milling machines has allowed me to explore shape without being restricted by traditional shoe components like insole boards, shanks or toe and heel puffs. Using a scanned 3D model of a last has allowed me to trace the silhouette form of the foot on the inside, diffusing its profile on the outside.

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Ten excellent examples of CNC routing

Best of the Blog 2011 – CNC routing

Overshadowed somewhat in recent years by laser cutting and 3D printing, CNC routing remains a fabrication technology with enormous potential. It can be used with more materials than 3D printing and creates 3D shapes more easily than laser cutting. These ten examples show this technique at its best.

#10 Giant CNC’d Scrabble

What do you do when there is a giant CNC mill just waiting to be used? Giant Scrabble of course. This enormous board game was made by those clever students at MIT.

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CNC-cut line-following robot pays homage to The Simpsons

meet Chief Knock-A-Homer

Here’s a nifty little line-following robot from Let’s Make Robots. The tech is pretty commonplace: two light sensors watch for a line of black tape and instruct two drive motors which way to turn. As is often the way with DIY electronics projects, the real creativity comes with the case design and finishing.


Modeled after a robot from an episode of the The Simpsons, the Chief Knock-A-Homer is CNC-cut and hand painted. The maker ‘psychofreaky’ goes into plenty of detail to explain his finishing techniques: valuable information for any aspiring DIYers.

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