What to do with your first laser cut design

Four scenarios and next step options for first-time makers

You’ve created a design and uploaded it to Ponoko, placed and order, and now you have your first piece of laser cut delight. So now what?

It all depends on what stage of the process you’re in. We’ve come up with four scenarios to keep things moving. See which one best describes you.

Scenario #1

You: My design is not quite right – it didn’t work out!

Ponoko: Don’t let this get you down. The first try pretty much never turns out perfect for anyone. Making something is a process, and you’re in the prototyping phase. Most of our customers have to make 5-10 prototypes to get their design just right. Don’t forget that we will do whatever it takes to help you get there!

What to do next:

• If you’re not sure why your design didn’t work out or if you think we messed something up, get in touch: service-at-ponoko-dot-com
• If you know what needs to be changed, revise your design and try again. To speed up the prototyping process, we recommend putting multiple versions of your design on a single sheet of material and see which one works best.

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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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What Etsy’s New Policy Means for Ponoko Customers

Early this month, Etsy released new guidelines for Etsy shops. The new policy officially welcomes shops that use outside/outsourced manufacturers — as long as they are first “approved”.

Etsy writes that “These new policies are crafted to support a diverse community of makers, designers and curators — from the solo artisan just starting out, to the full-time seller hiring staff, to the artist who partners with a manufacturer to bring her creations to life.”

The “artist who partners with a manufacturer” should apply for approval in order to sell on Etsy. This includes all Ponoko customers using our laser cutting service to help create their designs.

According to the new policy, “Digital prints and posters, music, books you’ve authored, and 3D printed items can be sold without review.” This means that Ponoko customers using our 3D printing service to create designs do *NOT* need approval.

I contacted the Etsy integrity team and asked some questions on behalf of Ponoko customers.

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The Neo-Artist: Last chance to get involved

Time is ticking – Kickstarter campaign ends 4pm Friday EDT

When we recently discovered The Neo-Artist, it seemed like Lincoln Kamm was living the dream. He has developed an expertise in helping creative people find ways to produce and sell their work using the latest in digital manufacturing technologies, and now he wants to share it with you.

All of his knowledge (and a few extra practical perks) are condensed into the publication The Neo-Artist, which is the focus of a Kickstarter campaign that wraps up on Friday July 12 at 4pm EDT.

A nice snapshot of what The Neo-Artist is all about can be seen in the clip above, where Lincoln is interviewed by 3D Printer World. Watch the interview to discover more about the campaign, as well as cat-breading and other insights into Lincoln’s creative world that led him to share his expertise in The Neo-Artist.

If you need a little convincing to get involved in this campaign, one of the perks for backers is to receive discounted consultation time with Lincoln himself on your own projects. Imagine having personal, one-on-one time with an expert in making a success of making! Jump on board before it’s too late.

via Kickstarter

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The Neo-Artist: a high-tech guide to making

One man’s mission to solve the economic downturn for creative people.

Lincoln Kamm spent 12 years in the animation industry before breaking out and producing his own works. He has since met with notable success with six-figure sales and is now helping others learn how they too can do the same.

In an upcoming publication The Neo-Artist, Lincoln expands on his college lecture series and consulting experience. The book is a treasure-trove of knowledge that aims to teach creative people about the latest in high-tech hardware and software for turning ideas into real physical objects.

Topics covered include 3D printing and laser cutting, designing custom electronics, clothing and more. Most importantly, The Neo-Artist will also show how to make other aspects of the available technologies work for you to help market and sell your work. It’s perfect for makers who are just starting out and will still have plenty to offer those who have been in business for years, guiding them to the next level and beyond.

So if you are a creative person who’s into technology, be sure to take part in The Neo-Artist Kickstarter campaign and make a pledge to secure yourself a copy of the book. It’s time to leave the rat race behind.

The Neo Artist via Kickstarter

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Advice for small businesses: marketing without marketing — the story

“The fine line between speaking and being heard is storytelling.” – Greg Power

Editor’s note: In this guest post, CEO and co-founder Cassandra Glessner of San Francisco based nonprift SF Commonality gives some marketing advice that we at Ponoko truly believe in: sell your story and the orders will follow.


Forget marketing. That’s right, I said it; forget branding, synergy, and any other buzzword that make people’s eyes glaze over and brains recoil in horror. The most important thing that any small business start-up should recognize instead is that what you are really selling when you sell anything is a good story.

If people buy your delicious tomatoes or your jewelry or your solar panels, your whats-its, or your widgets; they are buying it because they are sold on the story of it. They compare, in an instant firing of emotional synapses, the story of that product with other stories of the other products out there, and purchase yours because they found yours more personally compelling. Your photographs, your presentation, you yourself — everything you put out there about your product is part of that story.

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Stitch — software to manage your small business! (Get a FREE 45 day trial from Ponoko)

You make stuff. Stitch makes selling your stuff easier.

People don’t just make cool lookin’ stuff with Ponoko — they start their own maker businesses! (You can check out their stories in our new blog series “Retail Ready“.)

So when we came across Stitch, a new subscription-based software for managing your small business, we thought “We should share this with our customers! And see if we can get it to them for FREE!”

Anyone can try Stitch free for 30 days, but thanks to Jake over at Stitch Labs, we’ve got a promo code that gives you a free 45 day trial. Plenty of time to give Stitch a try and see if it’s right for your maker business.

We’re putting the Stitch code in our next newsletter so keep an eye out! And if you aren’t subscribed to the Ponoko newsletter, just go to our homepage, scroll all the way down, and put your email in our newsletter subscription box.

Now let’s talk a little bit more about why you should check out Stitch.

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Sell the awesome stuff you make @ SF & LA Renegade Craft Fairs. Now open for registration!

California craft fairs this summer

Ponoko is proud to support lots of independent designers in their maker businesses. And if you’ve ever used Ponoko to make stuff, there’s a good chance someone out there would want to buy what you made.

A great place to find people who would love to purchase things you make is a craft fair. And the Renegade Craft Fair is one of the best.

They just opened vendor applications for 2 west coast fairs this summer:
• Renegade San Francisco July 21 & 22
• Renegade Los Angeles July 28 & 29

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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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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Kuler: the crowdsourced color theme maker

Take the guesswork out of choosing colors.

Choosing the right colors for your newest project is tricky, especially if you are trying to appeal to potential customers. Some people seem to have a natural ability to combine colors effectively, but most people (including myself) struggle with this. Kuler to the rescue.

Kuler lets people create and vote on color themes, so you know which combinations are popular and which you should avoid. You can even download the themes directly to pretty much any Adobe program.

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