Annual Letter from Ponoko Founder / CEO

Happy 2015 to you.

Full Printed from nueveojos on Vimeo.

Hi, I’m Derek Elley, a founder and the CEO of Ponoko (since Jan 2013).

Thanks big for being on our journey to lay some foundations of the 3rd industrial revolution together.

We believe in distributed digital mass production.

That is, consumers will continue to increase the number of products they download and make at home. Kinda like a ‘digital Ikea’ experience to start, followed by a ‘Star Trek Replicator’ down the track. And businesses will continue to increase their supply of digital products, simply because it’s more profitable to do so.

During 2014, we continued to obsess over delivering you the fastest way to make your custom products & build your creative businesses, using our online laser cutting & 3D printing services … made & shipped as fast as same day, no minimum order size, endless free instant quotes, on-demand production, all backed by our 100% re-make guarantee (and our new customer delight policy, whereby we reward you for giving us the opportunity to make good).

We LOVE playing our small part in your creative and business explorations. Thank you (!) for another great year in 2014 …

2014 – PEOPLE USING PONOKO

* Makers / Designers.

* ETSY Sellers.

* Kickstarter Entrepreneurs.

* Creative Agencies.

* Brands & Businesses.

2014 – YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS

* 70,000+ new product ideas submitted to Ponoko.

* 400,000+ custom products now made by Ponoko.

* $370,000+ Kickstarter campaigns using Ponoko.

* $1,720,000+ revenues earned from products you made using Ponoko and sold on marketplaces (like ETSY & Kickstarter), your websites, your stalls, your retailers, and our website.

2014 – IMPROVEMENTS WE MADE FOR YOU

We added the following major features (and many more behind the scenes or smaller features):

* Up to 55% off making costs for volume orders.

* Up to 55% off making costs for loyal customers.

* 100% off shipping costs for all orders over $100.

* Average of 20% off shipping costs with our new USPS service.

* 100% faster making time for our premium service (from 1 day to same day).

* 33% faster making time for our standard service (from 12 to 8 calendar days).

* 14% more materials, including our first $2,500 material design challenge.

* UX – Making your first product is easier with our new homepage and welcome experience.

* UX – Uploading your designs is easier with our new design trouble shooting experience.

* UX – Getting an instant online quote is easier after we cut away the noise.

* UX – Checking out is easier after we cut away lots more noise.

* New customer delight policy – in addition to our 100% re-make guarantee, we also reward you for giving us the opportunity to make good.

2014 – BIGGEST SURPRISE

* We A/B tested many many things. While most progressed to a product upgrade, there was one notable test that did not.

* Our hypothesis was: “Customers get frustrated when our automated design file checker rejects their design files, making it difficult to make things.”

* So we ran an A/B test to dis/prove this … A = no change (the file checker continued, meaning 30% of designs are rejected) … B = change (no file checker at all, meaning 100% of designs are accepted).

* The winner? Draw (hence we retained A).

* We really thought your behaviour would vote for B by a long stretch, but you did not – this really surprised us, and shows the power of A/B testing.

2015 – OUR PLAN

We believe in distributed digital mass production, a disruptor of the current centralised analog mass production model.

Hence, in 2007 we launched the world’s first website for designers to make and sell downloadable product designs (open/paid/free) to consumers.

Building upon this heritage, we have 2 major projects this year …

1) Improve Our Online Laser Cutting Service

For makers / designers, ETSY sellers, Kickstarter entrepreneurs, creative agencies plus brands & businesses, we’ll announce the following upgrades to our current service:

* AutoCAD DXF designs – get instant online quotes for laser cutting.

* Metal cutting – get instant online quotes using PDF designs.

* Rewards – for referring others.

* Pricing – new options.

* Materials & samples – more.

* Shipping – lower costs & faster.

* UX – a shopping cart so you can easily combine designs into a single shipment, and you don’t need to upload your designs repetitively to order repetitively.

* Loyalty – more for being a repeat customer.

* And lots more.

2) Launch Our New Home 3D Printing Service

For creative brands and businesses, we’ll announce a new initiative to make it simple for you to sell your products to consumers more profitably than ever before (via home 3D printers).

We believe the time is ripe for us to unveil the ‘future of making’ idea we’ve been sitting on for almost 8 years when we dreamed up Ponoko.

Please hit us up if you’d like to find out more about our new home 3D printing service.

2015 – BEST WISHES TO YOU

Finally, if you have any questions, concerns or merry-ness to share with me or our team, please feel free to email me [ derek - at - ponoko - dot - com ] or leave a comment below …

Thanks again.

Derek

Related posts:

Top 10 Materials of 2014

Join us as we look back at the materials that hit it big in 2014.

The Ponoko Materials Catalog offers a wide variety of high quality 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.

Join us as we take a look at the 10 most popular materials from 2014:

#10) Corrugated Cardboard – Double Layer

We start out countdown with one of our less glamorous materials: cardboard. Cardboard is a great material for prototyping your design and making it in another material later. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use cardboard in a final product. Check out these 20 inspirational designs made from good old fashioned recyclable cardboard.

Make something with cardboard! »

#9) Acrylic – White

White acrylic is one of Ponoko’s most versatile materials. To get an idea of the two opposite sides of the spectrum check out these polar bear snowflake ornaments from PepperSprouts, or this Synthesizer Enclosure from Glitched.

Make something with white acrylic! »
(more…)

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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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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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Biggest Sale of the Year Starts Midnight Tonight

Biggest Sale of the Year Starts Black Friday, Ends Cyber Monday

This is it – our biggest sale for all of 2014.

Your chance to make something new, something a little crazy, or to stock up on your favorites.

You get 35% off the making cost of all laser cutting orders placed between 12:01am Black Friday and 11:59pm Cyber Monday.

To make it happen just enter this coupon code at checkout – VOAXD8 – within the next 4 days only.

Go wild.

Discount applied to making costs. Offer good November 28th – December 1st 2014. Not valid with Prime accounts.

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Javascript Laser Cut Lamp Shades

A few lines of code to brighten your day

When Maxime Beauchemin set out to design a pair of laser cut lamp shades, he decided that it would be fun to make use of his coding skills. Already familiar with d3.js, he used Javascript to generate the vector artwork that would then be sent to the laser cutter.

This was much easier than it may otherwise appear thanks to the interactive setup at jsfiddle.net, a fantastic resource that some refer to as a ‘playground for developers’. Here is a screenshot of the number crunching that makes Maxime’s lamp possible:

This looks like an interesting way to approach design for laser cutting, with the interactive preview keeping the outcome right there on screen. Of course, a little coding knowledge would be handy to get started… but for those who just want to play, you can head over to jsfiddle and tweak Maxime’s code to make further iterations of his Javascript Laser Cut Lampshade.

via Maxime Beauchemin

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Fab Academy 2015

Applications now open for the next Fab Academy Diploma

Applications are now open for the fifth edition of the Fab Academy Diploma, the main educational program of the Fab Lab Network.

For five months running between January and June in 2015, participants will find themselves immersed in an advanced digital fabrication program directed by Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Center For Bits and Atoms. The diploma is based on MIT’s rapid prototyping course, MAS 863: How to Make (Almost) Anything, and operates as a worldwide, distributed campus where Fab Labs across the globe become classrooms and libraries for a new kind of technical literacy.

Learn how to envision, prototype and document your ideas through many hours of hands-on experience with cutting edge digital fabrication technology.

Take note of the following important dates if you think this sounds like a great way to supercharge your creativity and productivity in 2015:

Application period: October 6th, 2014 – November 20th, 2014
Application revisions: November 21st, 2014 – November 31st, 2014
Application notification: December 1st, 2014 – December 10th, 2014
Classes: January 21st, 2015 – May 27th, 2015

A list of participating labs can be viewed here, and more information is available on the Fab Academy website. Applications are open… apply now for the 2015 course!

via Fab Academy

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7 Important Dates for Online Sellers

For folks selling online, Christmas is without a doubt the busiest time of year.

Online shoppers shelled out over $46.5 billion in the 2013 holiday season.

While a big chunk of sales went to powerful online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart, last year shopping carts such as Shopify and Big Commerce commanded the highest dollar value per individual order.

If you’re making and selling online, get ready for this year’s influx of holiday orders by planing around the following important holiday milestones:

Feel free to embed this infographic on your site or blog using the code below:

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Metal etching project hits 300% of Kickstarter goal

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

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Manufacturing The Future

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

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