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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Awesome laser cut bendy corners

Laser cutting technique for bending plywood

I’m a big fan of UK open-source & DIY company oomlout. I used their work as the basis of my laser cut project box design tutorial back in August.

They’re back again with a new construction technique that I can’t wait to try out. By simply creating a series of alternating slots in a length of plywood, it is possible to create flexible flowing curves: something that has always been challenging with the two-dimensional nature of laser cutting. They have provided their design files in a wide range of different formats so you can start experimenting with curves in your next laser cut project.

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Build a 3D printer at home (really)

Detailed instructions for a Stereolithographic 3D printer on Instructables.

Rob Hopeless has posted an Instructable showing how to build a Stereolithographic 3D printer at home as part of the Instructables contest to win an Epilog Laser cutter. If you read through the tutorial, I think you’ll agree that he is a serious contender in the competition.

He went all out on this Instructable. There is a parts list, including companies who sell every part, plenty of photos at every step, downloadable files for a CNC (ok, so you probably can’t do this part at home), and 3D diagrams explaining the assembly.
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Tutorial: Guide to optimising lines for laser cutting

Optimise your files before uploading to save laser cutting time and money

optimising laser cut files

Ponoko’s recent prototyping party reminded me how important effective nesting parts in laser cut files is. This guide is about optimising line work to achieve faster cuts and thereby saving money. Cutting time is generally the most expensive component when ordering from Ponoko. In the forums recently, people shared their methods of saving money, but I think nesting line work requires greater exploration…


David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. You can follow him on Twitter @dizymac

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The finishing touch: filled laser engraving tutorial

A simple technique for making your laser engraving stand out
Rich Decibels Exenterator
This week I finished a project I’ve been developing for a while: the Rich Decibels Exenterator. Sound samples and technical details and so on are available on my blog but for this post I just wanted to demonstrate my engraving-filling technique. For me it is the ideal way to add labels to my DIY electronics gadgets.

Check out the full step-by-step tutorial on the forum.

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3D Modeling mesh decimation tutorial in Blender

Low polygon mesh tutorial image

The faceted low polygon look is en vogue judging by how many design blogs are featuring furniture, consumer and transport products designed with this look.

This tutorial looks at a simple feature in Blender 2.59a that helps reduce the polygon count of your models while maintaining a watertight mesh for 3d printing


David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly 3D print or CNC article for Ponoko. You can follow him on Twitter @dizymac

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Comic-style introduction to Arduino

A guide for visual learners:
Getting started with open-source programming

Jody Culkin is an artist of broad and impressive talents, and she’s done something wonderful for the DIY electronics community with one of her recent projects.

It’s not an award-winning sculpture, nor an emotive photograph or whimsical animation… this time, she has turned her hand towards helping newcomers get their head around just what this Arduino thing is all about.

The comic-style introduction has been CC-licensed for all to enjoy, and can be downloaded in full right here.

More than a guide to the ins and outs of the Arduino platform, this is also a handy introduction to electronics projects in general.

Introduction to Arduino via Boing Boing

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Getting started in DIY electronics

Victorian synthesizers, laser microphones, and space explorers
Nic Collins' Trombone-Propelled Electronics
If you haven’t had any sort of training in electronics, it can be a daunting world to get started in. It’s no use having someone talk about what you can do with an Arduino if you haven’t first been shown the basics of how circuits work, or say, what you can do with just a battery and a speaker. (more…)

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