10 excellent tips & tutorials on 3D printing

So you’ve seen the famous wrench video, you’ve got yourself a 3D design program, and you’re ready to try out 3D printing.

But where do you start?

If you’re not using your own desktop 3D printer, you’ll want to check this out:

Things you must know for 3D printing with Ponoko. This forum post lists 6 key considerations when using 3D printing — things like minimum wall thickness, hollowing out your geometry, and material selection.

For details on all that stuff plus a lot more, jump into these super helpful tips and tutorials.

1. Strength guidelines of 3D printing materials

You need to pick a material before you start designing, so you can take the benefits and limitations of each material into consideration as you design. This strength guideline depicts what proportions are suitable for which materials.

2. What does wall thickness mean, and how do I get it right?

This is one of *the* most important things for getting a successful 3D print. This post explains how to determine the minimum wall thickness you’ll need to get a sturdy result.

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CNC milling waves!

Rhino tutorial on simulating wave patterns!

I’ve recently been checking out the Grasshopper forums where people have been experimenting with CNC milling fibreboard and plywood with wave forms. For those interested in creating these patterns there is a tutorial by over at Instructables by Brian Ottrogge on how to achieve some similar forms, without needing to fire up Rhino’s Grasshopper plugin. (more…)

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Rules & guides for making your own CNC routed projects with Ponoko

3 helpful forum posts

In addition to lasercutting and 3D printing, Ponoko lets you make your own stuff with CNC routing.

Working with CNC routing lets you make much bigger stuff than you can make with lasercutting. But it’s a tricky technique to work with, so we’ve put together some rules and guides to help you get the best results from your CNC project.

The first thing you’re going to want to check out is Things You Must Know for CNC Routing. This forum post will walk you through 11 key considerations when using CNC, things like minimum and maximum design size, required width of the tool path, and how to format your design file.

Once you know the rules, you can move on to the guides on how to offset your lines for CNC routing. We’ve even got a video of the process.

If you use Inkscape, follow this guide. If you use Illustrator, follow this guide.

If you’ve got questions, please leave them in the forum. And if you’ve used Ponoko for CNC routing, we welcome any tips & tricks from the community.

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Tutorial: getting started with the Personal Factory API in Python


Personal Factory is a cloud software platform for app developers to connect users directly to manufacturing devices to make custom goods on-demand.

It integrates product creation and customization apps with an established manufacturing and distribution system, so users can turn their designs into final products and have those products delivered to their door.

This is part one in a series of tutorials written by technologist Mark Schafer on working with the Personal Factory API in Python.

The full API documentation is here. All supplied examples use cURL.

The code for this tutorial can be found here: https://github.com/Neon22/Ponoko-API-from-python

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Ten tutorials on digital fabrication

Best of the blog 2011 – Tutorials

Knowledge-sharing is central to the open design and distributed manufacturing movements. Here are ten of the best tutorials from 2011: 3D printing and laser-cutting techniques, online resources, and software help.

1. Guide to optimising lines for laser cutting


David halves his lasercutting cost with a few simple line optimising techniques. (more…)

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6 resources to get you started on a lasercut cardboard project

rocketships, sliceforms, perfect packaging, and file optimization

We’re throwing our second Prototyping Party and giving away FREE cardboard for the rest of the month when you make something with Ponoko.

To give you some design ideas we put together a post of 20 inspirational designs made from cardboard.

With just two a little over two weeks left on this promotion, it’s time to get down to business. So here are 6 resources to get you started.

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Converting an inkjet printer for DIY PCBs

Comprehensive step-by-step instructions

There comes a time when the electronics hobbyist wants to start making their own printed circuit boards (PCBs). There is a baffling array of different techniques to achieve this; it can be difficult to know where to start. One very solid option that is popular with DIY hackers is to convert an Epson printer to print etch-resistant ink onto copper-clad board. The problem is there has never been a concise set of instructions on how to do this.Until now: Instructables user ‘pourcirm’ posted this comprehensive step-by-step guide on the conversion process, that makes it seem a little less daunting!

On the other hand, if you want to get a few boards made up without going to all this effort, you can always crowd-source the job.

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Ten sinteringly great 3D print articles of 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – 3D Printing

To celebrate the new year, we’re running a best of the blog 2011 for each category 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC routing, art, hardwear, materials etc. 2011 was an impressive year for 3D printing. It was a real challenge selecting only 10 from all the amazing articles. I think you’ll agree this snapshot of ten (in no particular order) showcase the exciting possibilities with the technology…

1. Solar Laser Sintering in the Sahara

This generated an enormous amount of buzz on the interwebs and is probably my favourite 3D printer so far. If the future is destined for a Mad Max-esque distopia this is what I’ll be taking to my desert island!

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Tutorial CNC routing with Grasshopper

Simple Grasshopper definition for CNC

Grasshopper and CNC

Parametric software can save you a lot of time by automating repetitive tasks. The Grasshopper plugin for Rhino is well known for its impressive generative architectural modelling, but it is also useful for much simplier tasks such as offsetting lines as you might do manually in Illustrator or inkscape for CNC routing. (more…)

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NEW material: laser-cuttable cardstock in 3 colors!

cardstock comes to Ponoko US = a whole new range of things to make!

Awhile back we gave our most frequent customers the chance to tell us what new material they wanted to see in the Ponoko materials catalog, and we promised to add the top two materials by the end of the year.

We brought on matte black silicone rubber last month, and today we’re announcing CARDSTOCK!

We even let our top users vote on what colors they most wanted, so we’ve got black, ivory, and red.

The cardstock laser engraves really well. It looks awesome, to be honest. And one trick you can do is use a medium vector engraving line to create perfect fold lines. Because it’s paper, its 100% recyclable and can be easily joined with glue or tape.

And you can buy a sample of our new cardstock materials for $2.50 each.

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