Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #1

Check out this creative way to make an impact for your brand

This fetching set of Venetian Blinders may look like something from a 1980’s music video, but in actual fact it was featured at The Future Is Here, a 2013 design exhibition showcasing digital manufacturing.

Agencies and brands can take inspiration from cleverly simple laser cut products like this. Looking beyond their debatable merits as a fashion accessory, they are a perfect example of what can be made in your Ponoko Personal Factory at high volume and low cost.

Would you feel cool sporting a set of these? Creating a unique item that shows off your agency’s technical and creative skills in a fun, playful way is made even more memorable if your clients can wear it home!

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Dying to laser cut

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #210

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

Above are laser cut wood Starman coasters from Pixelaser.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

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Laser etched Moiré pattern artwork

Introducing a novel way to create tone and depth for laser etched images

Always on the lookout for new and creative ways to explore laser cutting, Martin Raynsford recently transposed an intricate graphic work into this striking laser etched art piece.

The inspiration came from Andrea Minini’s Animals in Moiré series, where the mesmerising concentric lines form styalized creatures full of character.

I manually traced the original image to create the vector artwork, each line is just a single low power cut.

Martin suggest that at some point he would like to see an app or plug-in that can generate patterns like this automatically. He has good reason to dream of an optimised workflow for future projects, given that it took 8 hours of drawing to recreate the 100+ individual lines in Andrea’s Puma portrait.

via Moiré Pattern Artwork: Puma

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Bitsbox monthly projects for kids

How to nurture creativity for the digital makers of the future

For many of us, learning coding simply isn’t fun – but perhaps we’ve gone about it all wrong. Two former Google employees (who also happen to be Dads) saw a way to make learning coding languages fun for kids, and their solution has gathered quite a following on Kickstarter. They call their learning system Bitsbox, and as you’ll soon see, there is more to the bits than just what’s in the box.

We don’t teach our kids how to read and write so that they can be novelists. We teach them those skills so that they can be happy, so that they can be successful in whatever path they choose.

Bitsbox operates both online and as a subscription-based service that delivers boxes of coding projects in the mail to kids every month. Within minutes, kids are able to create apps that can run on a real device. The magic of the monthly deliveries is that they will keep kids hungry for more; and excited to engage with newer (and more challenging) projects as they become increasingly proficient with their coding skills.

What excites us at Ponoko is that these children will become the next generation of creative software designers and digital makers. This means that we can well and truly expect the 3D designers and laser cutting makers of the future to totally blow our minds.

Become a part of the Bitsbox community and make the most of the Kickstarter funding perks before the campaign closes.

Bitsbox via Kickstarter

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Laser cut Asia

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #209

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

Above is a laser cut birch veneer pendant lamp from Fabripod.

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Laser cut Geneva Drive mechanism

Designing the gears to fit inside a laser cut Automata

The mechanical marvels that are the specialty of Rob Ives don’t just come together overnight. It takes a lot of careful planning and prototyping to get those gears working just right.

In this recent blog post, he reveals the mechanism that will be at the heart of an upcoming Automata. This arrangement of gears is called a Geneva Drive, and it was originally used as a safeguard to prevent clock springs from being over-wound.

“…a particularly interesting mechanism. There is a little window in the background of the model. Through the window you can see a portrait of a woman. As the mechanism runs I need the picture in the window to change to another portrait, then another, then another… and so on. I need the picture to be stay still for a set amount of time then flip quickly to the next picture as the mechanism runs.”

Rob designed the parts in Illustrator before laser cutting his prototypes. It will be exciting to see the final outcome, where these gears will work their mechanical magic.

You can learn more about the Geneva Drive in an earlier blog post from Rob, which features an animation of the gears in action. We often see Ponoko users creating laser cut gears from acrylic, card and wood. Perhaps this adaptation of the Geneva Drive will get your mind turning as well!

via Rob Ives: Notes

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Top 10 Seller Stories of 2014

Inspiring stories of independent designers & sellers creating products with Ponoko.

2014 was an amazing year for us and our amazingly creative customers. Ponoko customers are not only making super cool original products, they’re solving design problems for underserved markets and building successful small businesses.

#10: Laser Cut Robots Remind You to Water Your Plants

Some of us are blessed with a natural talent for caring for our houseplants. Others, however, struggle with merely keeping our houseplants alive.
Read Dickson Chow’s story about saving the lives of innocent plants everywhere with the help of his laser cut robot friends.

#9: Photochemical Machining Goes Bohemian

Rachel Dropp is the one-woman operation behind Raw Elements Jewelry, a brand that combines modern Photochemical Machining (PCM) with traditional jewelry-making techniques. The results are unique hand-crafted pieces that feature a raw, unique style.

Read Rachel’s story on how she launched a line of bohemian inspired jewelry designs, and the unique process behind these pieces.

#8 The Kyub MIDI keyboard

The Kyub is a compact, fully programmable MIDI interface that provides a new way to compose, record and perform music. Although the Kyub Music group fell short of their original Kickstarter goal – they were able to garner enough support for the product to put the Kyub into production. Read the Kyub’s story and get a first hand look a the Kyub in action.

(more…)

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How to avoid clipping masks in your designs

Clipping masks: please don’t use them!

When creating artwork for laser cutting in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, people love the very handy technique of using clipping masks to achieve the desired visual outcome. But that’s just it – as the name of the command so succinctly implies, when you use clipping masks there is more to the image than meets the eye… and those hidden lines do not play nicely with the laser cutter.

In this tutorial from the Ponoko Support Forums, Catherine talks through how to clear your file from any hidden elements that were left behind when the clipping masks were created.

For either program, there are two main processes to get your head around and each contains a small number of steps. In Illustrator, you need to Release the clipping mask and then clean up any stray elements. For Inkscape, the process is similar with a command to release the Mask and Clip.

What comes next depends on the complexity of your design, but you can be sure any time spent getting the artwork right beforehand is always better than bottlenecks at the laser cutter due to incompatible files.

See the step-by-step guide on the Ponoko Support Forums:

Please don’t use clipping masks in your designs

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A new year of laser cutting

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Above is a laser cut bamboo light from Michael Brady Designs.

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Building a laser cut and 3D printed PlotClock

Arduino-driven clock that writes the time, erases and repeats

Self-declared “Geek Mom” Debra posts some pretty amazing DIY projects on her blog, and this version she made of the PlotClock is well worth a closer look.

As you can see in the video above, the PlotClock is a timekeeping device that diligently wipes away the previous figures before scrawling the current time with an erasable pen.

“There is something very human and endearing about the motion of the arms as they perform their task of drawing and erasing over and over and over again.”

Debra followed instructions that she found on Thingiverse and incorporated extra modifications suggested by other Thingiverse members. Even still, resolving the design was an iterative process that included using SketchUp to visualise how the mechanism works before sending files to Ponoko for laser cutting.

“The upload and ordering process was very easy.  The hardest part was waiting for the package to arrive.”

And arrive it did, in a timely manner. Read on to discover how she added in a variation of the 3D printed cap for the dry-erase pen, and used the flexibility of Arduino programming to customize the code to the specific requirements of this project.

via Geek Mom Projects

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