10 things to know before laser cutting with Ponoko

Useful information for both new users and laser cutting veterans

Are you a seasoned Ponoko maker? Or perhaps your imagination has been tingling and you are bursting to make your very first Ponoko product.

Either way, here is a top-10 list that we think will come in handy for those new to laser cutting, and it also contains useful information that will help more experienced Ponoko members keep things running smoothly.

Let us know what you would add!

1. How long it will take to make and ship your order.

We make all orders as quickly as we can, and how long that takes depends on the volume of orders we are processing at any one time. Due to the number of variables involved, we’ve written a separate post to help you work out the likely total time your order will take.
Read about our order timeframes.

2. If you are using Inkscape, you MUST use our design templates, or your design will be sized incorrectly.

We strongly recommend that everyone use our templates for laying out their laser cutting designs. If you are using Inkscape *it is 100% necessary*. The way that Inkscape works with measurements is different to other vector-based design software packages, and if you do not use our templates your parts will be made the wrong size. If you’ve already got an Inkscape design ready, we have created a guide to putting it on our templates.
Read how to place existing Inkscape designs onto our templates.

…so that’s the first two, and there are eight further important pointers to wrap your head around when you continue reading the full post.   (more…)

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The basics of laser cutting with Ponoko

Helpful advice on how to get started with the Ponoko Personal Factory

For those who have always wanted to give Ponoko a go but are not sure where to start, this training video shows just how easy it is to produce your own laser cut designs.

In a little over ten minutes, Josh talks through the process of using Ponoko, and highlights a small project that makes a great starting point to help you feel your way with the Ponoko Personal Factory.

The material overview covers felt, cut and engraved bamboo, leather, 3d objects assembled from laser cut acrylic, and laser cut plywood. There is also advice on which materials are the best to get started with – and how to avoid common ‘beginner’ mistakes.

Then it gets to the good stuff – a neat little demo of how to actually make your very first product. The walkthrough explains how to use Inkscape to create a file that can be uploaded to Ponoko for laser cutting.

Starting with the Ponoko P1 template, Josh quickly whips up a collection of forms that use both laser cutting (for outlines) and laser etching (for surface details).

The upload process is then explained, with useful tips on how to check your files are correct and also how to order multiple copies of your design. Next comes material selection, which reveals some very useful information – how much it will cost! You’ll see that it’s really easy to switch to another material and see the price adjust accordingly in an instant.

The video wraps up with a few more handy design tips to be sure you start off on the right track.

Sound like fun? We think so. Watch the video, then dive right in!

source: The basics of laser cutting with Ponoko

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What is Laser Cutting?

Taking a step back to go through some laser cutter basics.

What is laser cutting, and why are we so excited about it?
As we’ll see in this brief overview, laser cutting is a relatively simple technology that makes it possible to cut or etch forms from sheet materials.

Laser cutters work in a similar way to other CNC (computer controlled) tools, however the cutting is done with a powerful beam of light instead of a sharp blade. To cut, the laser beam is focused to hit the material at a precise point, causing it to melt, burn or vaporize. Etching is achieved by focusing the laser on the surface of the material, where it will only burn or vaporize the topmost layer.

Laser Cutting is particularly useful because it works touch-free, meaning no mechanical forces or pressures are transferred to the material. This enables delicate cutting paths that can be repeated with a high level of precision, whether they are cut all the way through the material or etched as an impression onto the surface.   (more…)

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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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My First Synth

A compelling toy for all ages

Here’s an Instructable that goes into great detail about the design and build process of this marvellously over-engineered kids toy. This project really ticks all my boxes: sweet laser cut enclosure, arcade buttons, weird noises, and it’s educational!

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Tutorial: Gears & Joints with SketchUp and SketchyPhysics Part 2

Mechanical modelling with free software tools

Following on from last week’s introductory tutorial, here’s a bit more information on how to make mechanical models in SketchUp with SketchyPhysics. By the way, here’s a great resource if you want to learn more about mechanical linkages, gears, and all that good stuff (hat tip to Edgar Castelo for the link).

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Tutorial: Gears & Joints with SketchUp and SketchyPhysics

Continuing my commitment to using free software even though it drives me up the wall sometimes

Following my recent obsession with drawing machines, I’m working on a new project with lots of gears and linkages. I figured it would be a good time to learn how to do mechanical modelling in SketchUp. Sketchy Physics is a plugin for Google SketchUp that allows you to simulate mechanical models. It is very capable but also very frustrating!

Figuring I’m not the first person to get frustrated on the way to creating meshing gears in SketchUp, I wrote this tutorial. I hope it will help some of you get up the steepest part of the learning curve.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.

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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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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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