How to oven form laser cut acrylic

A handy tip for when flat isn’t all that

Today we are taking a look at one way to give your laser cutting a boost and take it beyond the constraints of two dimensions. Utilising the thermoplastic properties of acrylic, it can be surprisingly easy to apply heat and then carefully form laser cut objects into more complex shapes.

Back in her student days, Kiki Brown Bear fired up the oven in her kitchen to soften her laser cut flatware, and then made use of actual forks and spoons as molds to get the shape she wanted. Follow her process over at Instructables, where you can find step-by-step photos and a brief video of the technique in action.

If you like the sound of this and want to explore further, there are all kinds of objects around the home that can also be used to help shape softened acrylic. We have seen some people laser cut custom profiles in MDF or ply, and then laminate them to create a DIY acrylic mold. To get heat into the acrylic, it is possible to use hair dryers, heat guns and grills (as well as ovens) to soften the material and get it ready for molding into shape. Just be sure to ventilate the area as much as possible, because those acrylic fumes are not so pleasant.

via Instructables

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Announcing Support for AutoCAD

Now you can upload DXF files directly from AutoCAD

You asked for it, you got it! You can now take DXF files exported from AutoCAD and upload them directly to your Personal Factory.

In addition, we’re thrilled to announce a brand-spanking-new starter kit for AutoCad, including a new design guide and design templates.

You can check out the new AutoCAD design guide here, and download the new design templates here.

Support for AutoCAD is still brand new, so if you’ve got any feedback or tips for improvement, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

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Top 10 Most Obscure Materials of 2014

Exploring some of the lesser-known materials in the Ponoko catalogue.

With 80+ materials available in the Ponoko catalouge, it’s understandable that a handful of them might fly under the radar. While classics like Bamboo & Walnut MDF might take up the spotlight, the Ponoko materials catalogue is rich with hidden gems.

Join us as we count down the top 10 deep cuts, b-sides, and unsung heroes of the Ponoko materials catalog:

(more…)

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Look at laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #212

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

Above is a laser cut necklace from The Fashion Bandits.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, glasses, fruit, trees, a house, and arrows… (more…)

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Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #2

Pop-up record player keeps customers in the groove

For a promotional product to make a lasting impression it can help to find a clever way to surprise and delight the recipient. Take this example from Canadian ad agency Grey who created a memorable direct mail product that references the client’s historical association with vinyl records.

A very basic but fully functional record player folds out from a sleeve containing the 45rpm single. Manually operated, the hollow space in the folded card amplifies the sound. According to Geoff Dawson from Grey:

“It’s actually shocking how good the sound quality is, it took a long time of playing with different materials and designs to get the audio just right”.

For a little more on the Grey player, check out the brief review on Modular 4.

Here’s another take on the same concept, this time in the form of a rather charming wedding invitation featuring more refined graphics and a custom song for the recipient to spin.

Taking inspiration from these examples, the Ponoko Personal Factory can be used to make simplified interpretations of other familiar domestic products. This is a great way to get your message across at high volume and low cost.

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How to transform an existing product

IKEA product hacking gets a facelift with some custom laser cutting

stairlight2.jpg

Mass produced commercial products can make a fantastic base for custom laser cut additions. This IKEA wall fixture hack by Josh Reuss was originally posted in the Ponoko Support forums Show & Tell section, and provides a nicely resolved example of how laser cutting can be used to transform an existing product.

There is more to this than simply cutting out a shape that slips over the manufactured fitting. Josh came up with some clever ways to create the full sized panel from several smaller components, while keeping all joints concealed and obscured by the pattern details.

Follow the link for a thorough walkthrough of the process that saw an off-the-shelf product become a unique, eye-catching designer item with surprising ease. (more…)

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Laser cut wood(s)

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #211

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

Above are laser cut tree branches shadowboxes from Shadow Fox Design.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, clocks, gauntlets, skulls, earrings… (more…)

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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

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Design tip: Ponoko Color Palettes

Keep these swatches handy to streamline your workflow

Here is a neat tip from the Ponoko Support Forums. Follow the links below to download Ponoko-friendly custom color palettes for your favorite drawing application. Each file contains the necessary cutting and engraving values that will make sense at our end, where the magic happens.

The original post has files for Illustrator, Corel Draw and Inkscape.

Here’s a quick look at the installation process using Illustrator CC.

1. Download the Ponoko color swatch file for Illustrator: ponokoswatch.ai.zip

2. Unzip and move the file to (for Mac systems) Applications > Adobe Illustrator > Presets > Swatches
(For Windows systems replace Applications with Program Files)

3. Import your Palette:

Open Illustrator and go to Window > Swatches to make your Swatches panel active in the sidebar.

Click on the small arrow at the top-right of the Color Palette and select ‘Open Swatch Library’ and then ‘Other Library’.

Browse to your ‘Swatches’ folder and select ‘Ponokoswatch’, then click ‘Open’.

To keep things nice and straightforward on your screen, it can be helpful to expand the color icons into a list.

Click on the small arrow at the top-right of the Ponokoswatch panel and select ‘List View’.

Now you’ll have all the info right there, making it even easier to create design files for laser cutting with Ponoko.

Here are the files for each application:

Illustrator: ponokoswatch.ai.zip
Inkscape: Ponoko.gpl.zip
Corel Draw: ponoko.cpl.zip

Adapted from a post on the Ponoko Support Forums.

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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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