Design Challenge: Over $2,500 up for Grabs!

This month, we’ve added three new premium wood veneers to our materials catalogue. To celebrate, we’re throwing a design challenge with $2,500+ in prizes up for grabs!

The Challenge:

Using one of our new premium materials, design a product that flaunts your creative brilliance and showcases the quality of our new premium materials.

The Materials:

Left to right: 3.5mm Maple, Cherry & Walnut Veneer. Click here to enlarge.

These high quality veneers have a wood laminate on each side which is sanded smooth and finished with a clear coat. The premium appearance makes these materials ideal for jewelry, coasters, clocks, or other high end products.

How to Enter:

Step 1 – Make with a Free P1:

Place an order with your Personal Factory using one or more of our new premium materials. To give you a leg up, your first P1 is on us.

Step 2 – Submit:

Take some great photos of your creation and share them with us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram before 10pm PDT on August 24, 2014. Use the hashtag #ponokonewmaterials to make your entry official.

Step 3 – Vote:

We will select the top sumbissions and post them on our blog for the community to vote; then it’s up to you to tell your friends and family to head over to our blog so they can vote for you!

Check out the design challenge rules & guidelines for all of the competition details.

Competition Calendar:

The Prizes: (Over $2,500 up for grabs!)

  • Grand Prize – $600 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($1,068 value.)
  • 2nd Place – $450 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($918 value.)
  • 3rd Place – $300 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for 6 months ($434 value.)

How Voting Works:

Ponoko will select the finalists and post them to our blog on August 26th, 2014. Readers with vote for their favorites on our blog between August 26th and September 1st.

All winners will be announced via the blog on August 26th, 2014.

Judging Criteria:

Finalists will be selected using the following criteria, in no particular order:

  • Clarity and resolution of design.
  • Originality.
  • Presentation and photography.
  • Interesting use of material(s).
  • Attention to detail.
  • Production feasibility.
  • Market appeal.

Again, be sure to check out all of the competition rules and guidelines before submitting, and good luck!

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Open Source Laser Cut CT Scanner

Taking a DIY approach to high tech imaging

Providing the magical ability to scan not only the surface, but also to reveal details of the insides of an object, the CT (computed tomography) scanner has quite literally changed the way we see ourselves.

Modern CT scanners are frightfully expensive and are usually found in hospitals but Canadian-born Peter Jansen has built one himself out of laser cut wood.

“After seeing the cost for my CT scan, I decided it was time to try to build an open source desktop CT scanner for small objects, and to do it for much less than the cost of a single scan.”

With a design quite similar to the early commercial CT scanners, Peter’s device began as a quarter-scale laser cut acrylic version that he whipped up in a single day.

He then used this mockup to help refine the design, under the watchful gaze of a friendly house cat. (more…)

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Register for the LA & SF Renegade Craft Fairs

Sell the awesome products you make!

At Ponoko we’re all about enabling designers to make a living off of their creativity. If you’ve got a unique product, a great place to connect with folks interested in buying your designs is a craft fare – and Renegade is one of the best.

They just opened vendor applications for 2 west coast fairs this summer:

Applications for both fairs close April 18, 2014, so head over to Renegade’s site to submit your application. Make sure your product really shines by checking out these tips for submitting an all-star application.

If you don’t live in the golden state, don’t despair. Renegade has craft fairs in Austin, Chicago, Brooklyn, and London!

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Get to know your laser cutter better

DIY Kerf measuring tool refines your laser cutting precision

Although it isn’t critical on all laser cut projects, for anything with parts that fit or slot together, kerf is something that is worth paying attention to.

It may sound like a Jim Henson creation – but kerf is in fact a very real technical term. Kerf refers to the gap that is left by the cutting device – in our case, the laser beam in a laser cutter. It’s usually more of an issue when laser cutting in wood, but will also come into play when laser cutting acrylic and other materials.

Open source enthusiast Dave Chamberlin has come up with a nifty device that can be used to accurately measure the kerf of a laser cutter. The simple cutting pattern has been uploaded to Thingiverse, and includes instructions on how to measure your kerf etched right onto the device itself. Here is what it looks like:

Follow the source link below to download the file and try it out on your own laser cutter. You can also discover what else Dave is up to in his open source maker crusade over at Takeaway 3d Tech.

Thingiverse: Laser Kerf Measuring Tool

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Lower Pricing for Laser Cutting

We are thrilled to announce new volume pricing for Prime members!

Prime members can now save 55% off their making costs

If your goal is to set competitive retail pricing & make a healthy profit, taking advantage of volume pricing is key. And even if you’re just making a handful of hobby projects, the savings can really add up.

Check out the chart below for a breakdown of the new rates:

$1 – $499: 32.5% off ($1.35 per minute) by joining Prime*.
$500 – $999: 35% off ($1.30 per minute).
$1,000 – $1,999: 39% off ($1.22 per minute).
$2,000 – $2,999: 43% off ($1.14 per minute).
$3,000 – $4,999: 47% off ($1.06 per minute).
$5,000 – $9,999: 51% off ($0.98 per minute).
$10,000+: 55% off ($0.90 per minute)

* vs free account pricing.

How to get these lower rates:

  1. Join Prime.
  2. Place your order as normal.
  3. That’s it! Volume pricing will automatically be applied to your order.

Lower pricing applies to laser making costs (excluding metal laser and 3D printing), when ordering from Ponoko US and NZ.

If you have any questions about volume pricing don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Free Shipping on Orders Over $100

Last year, we set out to learn more about our customers to find out what we needed do to make Ponoko even better. Across the board, lower shipping was high on everyone’s list.

So we went to work – We experimented with different combinations of pricing and shipping to find out what works best for everyone.

Over the course of 7 months, and 5 back-to-back tests we found that a rate of $2.00/minute with free shipping over $100 was by far the most popular.

Starting today: pay no shipping on any laser cutting order over $100, from the US to anywhere in the continental US, and from New Zealand to anywhere in New Zealand and Australia.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks we’ll have more news on how you can save even more on shipping!

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Exploded hardware wall art

Creative inspiration as products are exposed in all their glory

We all know the story… the kids who spend hours pulling apart every product they can get their hands on will grow up to become tomorrow’s designers, engineers and creative geniuses. Well, the offices of Bolt in downtown Boston show that this is more than just a cliché.

Building a great hardware product is brutally hard work and our walls remind us of that everyday.

Set with a relatively small budget for decorating the office space in an inspirational way, the Bolt team made a list of their favourite hardware products of all time and purchased each item from eBay. The products were then disassembled, cleaned, and mounted on the walls in all their exploded designer glory.

This can be seen as merely an ‘art project’, with all the innards of the products exposed and neatly knolled into place. But as the exposed products become more and more a part of the every day, they have become valuable tools to educate, inspire and remind of how important exquisite design and meticulous engineering are to the success of a business.   (more…)

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MicroSlice laser cutter now on Kickstarter

mini Arduino laser cutter & engraver kits

There was plenty of excited chatter when Greg Holloway posted his MicroSlice laser cutter on Instructables last year. Much of this involved people asking “where, when and how can I get one?” Well, the good news is that this diminutive digital manufacturing device is now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and the pledges are coming in fast.

The MicroSlice is a nifty little unit. Once you take a closer look, it is easy to see why it won the 2013 Instructables Radioshack Microcontroller Contest. Imagine a laser cutter that sits on your desktop. Not impressed? Consider that it sits on your desktop, and takes up less space than a bowl of cereal. Less space than a takeout container. Less space than a burger with the lot. In fact it takes up less space than the power supply from a regular sized laser cutter.

The MicroSlice is a Build-It-Yourself kit, uses Open Source Software, and can be easily assembled at home by just about anyone.

The MicroSlice can cut paper, and engrave wood & plastic. Kits include an Arduino UNO R3 as well as 97 laser-cut parts and all necessary hardware to get up and running. The laser diode is a 100mw red laser, similar to what you’d find inside a DVD-RW drive. An option is available to supercharge the MicroSlice with a 200mw laser.

With a truly miniature work area of 50mm x 50mm (2″ x 2″) users will be choosing their projects carefully.  For bigger projects, there is always Ponoko.

Learn more, watch videos of the MicroSlice in action, and make a pledge over at Kickstarter.

MicroSlice on Kickstarter

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Win a free copy of LEO the Maker Prince, the first 3D printing book for kids!

LEO the maker prince

This week, Ponoko has partnered with author and designer Carla Diana to give away five free copies of her new book for kids (and adults!), LEO the Maker Prince.

The first book about 3D printing for children, LEO follows the adventures of Carla and her friend LEO, a 3D printer. Chancing upon each other during a New York hurricane, Carla and LEO traverse the fascinating new world of 3D printing and all of the creativity and common sense solutions that it offers. LEO is a machine; Carla is an accountant who had always dreamed of being an artist. Together, they discover how personal fabrication can, has, and will continue to change the world. It certainly changes Carla.

Published by Maker Media, each creation featured in LEO can be downloaded for free and produced on your home 3D printer. 3D printing isn’t magic, but LEO the Maker Prince is. Written for anyone who wants to learn more about 3D printing, this book explores today’s emerging technologies in a way that makes it understandable to readers of all ages.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment telling us what character(s) from which favorite children’s story book you’d like to 3D print—and why.

Details:

You may enter as often as you like between Jan. 13-17, 2014, but each submission idea must be distinct from your last. Repeat or similar entries from the same applicant will be disqualified. Author Carla Diana and a representative from Maker Media will choose the top five suggestions from your comments. And yes, creativity and smarts do matter.

Prizes:

Five winners will each receive a free copy of LEO the Maker Prince either as a PDF or hard copy, depending (the vagaries of shipping constraints outside the U.S. may determine).

Deadline:

Sweepstakes closes at 10pmPST on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Winners will be notified by Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, and announced in an update to this post.

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DIY Laser Cutter

Discover what a home-built laser cutter can do

There are a few examples out there of DIY laser cutters, with people sharing info and tips on how to make your own laser cutting device at home.

One such project comes from Jens Clarholm, and he has put together a neat overview of just what his home-built device is able to achieve as it cuts and/or engraves various readily available materials.

The laser cutter that Jens constructed boasts a 300mW laser diode sourced off eBay mounted in a wooden frame with drawer runners facilitating movement on both axes. Controlling the mechanism is a breeze thanks to an Arduino Nano and Easy Driver combo.  (more…)

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