Staining wood sheet materials — 7 different woods, 6 different stains

Josh Reuss makes 42 wood stain samples

Ponoko’s own Josh Reuss is always putting up nifty experiments, tips & tricks in the Ponoko forum.

Earlier this year, Josh decided to try out a variety of stains on some scrap pieces of wood material. (These are all wood materials for laser cutting with your Personal Factory btw.)

He reported on his staining experiments, detailing the best methods for applying and which stains looked best on which materials. Check it out, and if you’ve done any staining or painting yourself, feel free to add your results and what you’ve learned to the forums.

Links to each material and stain used are after the jump.


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Kinect 3D scanning in OSX with CocoaKinect

Easy Kinect 3D scanning with no compiling or installing weird drivers


I’m always looking for neat stuff to do with the Kinect sensor. Last week I spotted CocoaKinect, uploaded to Thingiverse by CidVilas. Unlike some other Kinect hacks I’ve played with in Windows, CocoaKinect doesn’t require anything more difficult than plugging in the sensor and starting the app.

Today I tried the typical self-portrait scan. When you launch CocoaKinect you’re presented with a simple single-screen interface:

CocoaKinect UI (more…)

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Digitise objects with an ordinary digital camera!

New 3D scanning web app…

My 3D scanner

This week we’re looking at a new 3d scanning web app  that scans real objects and you can digitise them for 3d print output on your Personal Factory here at Ponoko! launched recently and is rapidly becoming popular. It allows anyone who owns a digital camera that records EXIF data to 3D scan real life objects! (If you don’t know what EXIF data is, don’t worry – as long as you have a camera newer than 1998 it probabley does this.)


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Ten Helpful Tutorials and Guides

Best of the Blog 2010 – Tutorials and Making Help

In addition to the ten fantastic guides that are featured in the Ponoko Blog sidebar, today we’ve gathered for you a collection of ten more helpful guides and tutorials from the archives.

Read on for some simple advice for beginners (that may be a welcome reminder for more seasoned makers) through to a complete analysis of turning making into a business, with a few surprises in between.   (more…)

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10 Simple Steps to Make & Sell Your Custom Product

The world is full of great ideas, and never before has it been easier to turn those ideas into real, physical products. The thrill of holding something in your hands which you created is something quite special.

Here at Ponoko we love helping everyday people make extraordinary things and we relish our part in the renewed ‘maker movement’ which has taken off over the past few years.

To help you become a part of it too, we have drawn up ten steps to creating a successful custom product. We hope they’ll help to inspire you to start making – and hope to hear about your experiences of doing so!

1. Create a clear design brief for your product

The best thing you can start with is a very clear design brief, or outline. The key questions here are “Why?”, “Who?” and “What?”.

Firstly, identify the problem your product will solve, and the constraints you want to work within. For instance, instead of deciding you want to make a set of shelves – start with the fact you need to organize your books, and the constraint is that it needs to fit between your desk and your bed. This will widen the scope of what you may create, and ensure that it’s meeting a clear need.

Clarifying who you’re making the product for will help you in a multitude of ways – from how you will make it in the beginning through to how you will promote it to others.

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Christmas Ornaments from a Lasercutting Newbie

windmills for the tree

For those of you who’ve had an idea in the back of your head for something you’d like to make, but you’ve never tried making a design for lasercutting — you’re not alone.

Brian Lutz, a 32 year old resident of Washington state who works in tech, wanted to make some Christmas ornaments for his family’s annual holiday ornament exchange.

A total lasercut design newbie, Lutz took the dive into making a lasercut design for the first time and shared his learning process on his blog, The Sledgehammer (which I came across in my Google alerts for “lasercut”).

He uses Inkscape for the first time to design a windmill ornament, “an ongoing inside joke”, and took his files to his local maker space for production. It’s a good read for anyone who’s new to this whole “personal factory” business. : )

And with the holidays (read: vacation time!) coming up, there’s no better time to join the maker movement.

Find out how to make real products using Ponoko.
And check out our Beginner section in Tutorials + Making Help for everything you need to get started.

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Unbox, Build, Print — Review of the RepMan 3.1 3D Printer

3D Printers Australia sets up a RepMan Kit

3D Printers Australia brings “all the best information from the world wide 3D Printing industry to the Australian industry”.

They’ve got a blog with lots of 3D printing videos, and their most recent post is a review of the RepMan 3.1. In their conclusion, the two guys report “All up the RapMan took us a good 12 hours to assemble with 2 people working on it but once it was complete it was up and running and printing decent parts with out any adjustment with factory settings. That in itself says a lot.”

“The build process is a little more complicated than a Makerbot mainly due to the scaffold frame design however its not any harder, it just takes more time to assemble. …The Makerbot cupcake CNC is around half the price of the RapMan but your only getting a 1/4 of the build size so if you want to print parts bigger than 100 x 100mm its worth having a good look at a RapMan.”

If you’re thinking of getting your own 3D printer, be sure to check out 3D Printers Australia’s full review. And don’t miss the Step By Step Guide to Building a MakerBot Cucpake CNC 3D Printer.

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Ins and Outs of Holes

How to determine placement and size of jump rings when laser cutting jewellery.


Making jewellery is incredibly popular among Ponoko users.  It’s an excellent way to get a feel for laser cutting and try out a range of materials.  Popular rigid materials include plywood, acrylic, veneer mdf, bamboo, metals; while leather and felt are commonly used soft materials.

Much of the jewellery is based on 2D shapes, so minimal prototyping is required to get the optimum result in final product.  However, there are still a few problems that jewellery makers run into.  Many of those are the result of not considering how other components or findings, such as jump rings, clasps, pins, etc will be attached.  The other contributing factor is material durability.  You have to use enough material to avoid breakage.


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Step by Step Guide to Building a MakerBot CupCake CNC 3D Printer

in-depth 13 part guide from Make:

Marc de Vinck  just wrapped up an excellent and exhaustive step-by-step guide to building a MakerBot CupCake CNC. His 13 part article for Make: has been in the works for nearly a year, and the guide was finally finished today.

The documentary starts off with a little bit of the author’s background in CNC machining and then takes you through every step of putting together a fully functional CupCake CNC — from opening the box on the kitchen floor…

“The first thing I found was a nice letter from the MakerBot team and a couple of postcards. I’m going to keep these filed away in a safe place. Maybe one day I’ll be on the Antiques Roadshow and the host will let out a delighted *gasp* when I whip out my original, signed MakerBot Industries letter. Hey, you never know?!”

…to 3D printing a classic whistle in ABS plastic.

“Feeling confident, I proceeded to download the infamous whistle by Zaggo STL file. I fired up the printer, and in a few minutes, I had a whistle! Amazing!”

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to try out a CupCake for yourself, now would be that time. Not only do you have Vinck’s guide to walk you through the entire process, but the CupCake Starter Kit is now on sale for $649.

And don’t forget, all the files for the body of the printer are available for free in MakerBot’s Ponoko showroom and will cost you under $250 to cut with Ponoko. Save even more money by sourcing the electronics from the new hardware additions to our materials catalog.

via Make: & Marc de Vinck (t)

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Should I Manufacture or License My Product or Invention?

I recently attended my local Inventors Association (Inventors Alliance in Northern California) and noticed that Inventors kept inquiring about the differences between manufacturing and licensing a product.  New Inventors were confused about what these terms meant and wanted to learn more about the factors to consider when deciding which way to go for their own product.   So I thought I’d take a minute to discuss both options as this comes up all of the time in my workshops and classes as well.

Let’s start with Manufacturing.  Manufacturing is the process by which an Inventor actually designs, develops, sells and markets their product. Basically they are working on a product idea from start to finish.  They are responsible for taking a product idea and bringing it to market and creating an entire business venture around this product idea.   Inventors who manufacture their products typically take on all facets of a business—they are responsible for product development, packaging, marketing, selling and much more.

Licensing is a bit different. Licensing is when you actually ‘rent’ your product idea to a company who will do all of the work for you.   And when I say work, I mean they will handle all of the product development, packaging, marketing and selling for your product idea.  In other words, you provide a company with your brilliant idea and they in turn will bring your product to market and write you a check for every unit sold.

Why would a company agree to license a product idea?


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