Exciting New Materials: 3 Glitter Acrylics and Blonde Bamboo Ply

A little glitz and glamour is coming your way, USA. We’ve just released 3 glitter acrylics that look amazing for jewelry projects or anything that needs a little sparkle to standout.

Acrylics are hard and stiff plastics that can be cut with precision for small jewelry like earrings or tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, POS displays and more. They’re non-toxic and even recyclable in some areas.

Acrylic Glitter Black

This striking new acrylic can give extra depth to your projects. The transparent black acrylic has flecks of black glitter that reflect light. It a great option for keychains such as in the example we have.

Acrylic Glitter Silver

This transparent silver acrylic has flakes of silver in it that catch the light and make it shimmer — making it feel just a little bit more special than regular acrylic material. It really looks lovely as a pair of posh earrings.

 

Acrylic Glitter Gold

This transparent acrylic with specks of gold glitter look amazing on different projects. You can use it for your wedding products such as cake toppers or as a phone cover for that extra bling.

 

One of our most popular materials – the blonde bamboo – is now available in New Zealand.

Blonde Bamboo

555_edges_usa_bamboo_blonde_large

We’ve been seeing a lot of cool projects getting made with this material. Here’s an example from Iluxo that we really love.

blonde bamboo ply

 

Got any ideas for what you want to make with these new materials? Tell us about it in the comment section.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #41

Trade Show Marketing: How to attract people to your booth with gifts/giveaways and promo products

lasercutbowtie

Setting up at a trade show so that your brand can have maximum impact is important, not only to ensure that you get noticed on the day but also so that your presence is memorable beyond the trade event itself. Promotional products and giveaways are a great way to create these interest and memory triggers, so let’s take a look at how to get the most out of this essential trade show marketing tool.

Understanding value

Choosing what to use as a giveaway item at your booth will only work for your brand if it has value – both in terms of being cost effective for your company and also a sense of value to the potential customer. While it might be nice to give away iPads or other fancy items, most companies simply don’t have a budget that stretches this far! A small, interesting keepsake is more realistic; and that is where laser cutting services can best provide unique customized solutions for your brand.

Quality vs quantity

Setting a budget for your promotional products (and, more importantly, sticking to it) will free you up to focus on developing more effective solutions for your brand. Being cost effective is important but that does not mean you have to be cheap! Your brand is more likely to make an impact if you can increase the desirability of giveaway items by being selective about who they are handed out to, rather than flooding the floor with cheap promo products that have no meaning or context for the recipient.

Targeting booth visitors based on criteria that promotes common ground and also business opportunities sets up the exchange for your valued, quality item. The result will be something that is a real conversation-starter both at the time of interaction on your stand and also when they return to their co-workers after the show.

Be interesting

Visitors to your booth need to be enticed to take a closer look, and clever promotional products are a good way to get peoples’ attention. For laser cut trade show giveaways, this could mean something that is particularly useful, and/or something that is incredibly unique. If your promo item comes under either of these two categories, then chances are it will make it further than the unfortunate (and inevitable) post-show purge when so much mindless event collateral gets tossed in the trash.

Don’t forget Branding

While we are talking here about trying to do more than the obvious solution of plonking your company logo on the side of a pencil, it is important to ensure that your company branding is a part of the promotional product outcome. Laser cutting services like Ponoko’s Personal Factory are a good way to incorporate branding and brand messaging in clever and unique ways that will help your promotional products have brand recognition and lasting value.

Variety

Preparing your trade show campaign with more than one promotional item can ensure you are ready for unexpected outcomes on the day. You may have come up with a clever, unique solution… only to find that the stall across from you has also been clever and unique to the point where attendees find it difficult to distinguish between the two! Providing more than one item means you are more likely to have something truly unique in the sea of booths at the show.

Another possibility is that your killer promo idea is so successful that supplies quickly run out, leaving you with just a smile and a handshake to offer further visitors. You are less likely to run out of giveaways if visitors to your booth can choose between a few options. If you do happen to run out of one of them, you will have a backup or two to ensure awareness of your brand is effectively passed on.

Planning ahead

All of the above tips won’t count for much if your timing is off. Be sure to plan your promotional products with enough lead time to design, source and/or produce the items. While laser cutting services do have a quick turnaround, planning ahead will mean you can get the most out of the versatility that laser cutting can provide.

Try to fit the following into your pre-event workflow:

– Start with a test run to prototype your solution before committing to the final order. For many laser cut solutions the first step is to mock-up your design on paper with a desktop printer!
– Next, send through a few variations to your Personal Factory to further test and refine the laser cut/laser etched designs.
– Allow enough time for the finishing touches. Depending on your design, laser cut items may need to be cleaned, assembled, or inserted into packaging.

Keeping on top of this will give you the confidence that your promotional product is ready for the public by the time the trade event comes around.

Ask for help!

The friendly staff at Ponoko are not only experts when it comes to the technical side of making laser cut promotional products, they are also capable designers and clever thinkers in their own right. So if you have an awesome idea for your next trade show but are not quite sure how to make it happen, do get in touch at any stage of the project to see if we can help you reach a successful outcome.

How have you had success on the floor at trade events using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Cashing in on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Cake Toppers

How Etsy sellers are finding success with generic wedding cake topper designs

laser cut wedding cake topper livelovedesigns1

Wedding celebrations often take the best parts of a party and do them bigger and better than ever before. Weddings are a big deal, from the dress to the venue, to the dancing and of course that all time favorite… the wedding cake. And what better than a laser cut cake topper to top off the most extravagant of celebratory desserts.

Why use laser cutting for wedding cake toppers?

Let’s take a look at what makes a good topper, and see how successful Etsy sellers are making the most of what laser cutting has to offer. Pictured above is an example of a laser cut bride and groom silhouette from LiveLoveDesigns7, which neatly captures the elegance and romance of a traditional wedding celebration.

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-3

Laser Cut Silhouettes

The silhouette theme is well suited to laser cutting, with the versatility and precision that is able to be achieved. Forms are easy to identify and silhouettes communicate an enhanced energy through the simplicity of the unknown; the information that is not being shown.

This can be seen in the two examples above from True Love Affair. On the left, the happy couple are lucky enough to share their wedding day with their kids, and on the right, the exuberance and romance of the new bride and groom’s interaction cannot be denied.

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-1

A sense of fun

While the elegance of a bride and groom in traditional wedding dress and fancy suit has broad appeal, the formal ceremony is not for everybody. Making a laser cut wedding cake topper is an opportunity to communicate your playful side. Here we can see some romance in the rain (above, left) by Cake Topper Design that may suit a wedding in Seattle, and the dancing family in the example from Wedding Cake Name (above, right) are really tearing it up on the dance floor.

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-4

Another fun approach is to make mini-figures of the bride and groom. While not quite as precise as if they were 3d scanned and printed, the cartoon character versions from NGO Creations (above, left) are very cute and playful. It doesn’t have to be an actual representation of the bride and groom – many themes and lifelong favorites can also become wedding cake toppers thanks to laser cutting! Chances are this fun topper from Coral Mint Design (above, right) wasn’t the cake from Mickey and Minnie’s actual wedding…

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-2

Mixing laser cut materials

By using different materials for a laser cut wedding cake topper, further context can be created. The bride in white is matched by a groom in full dinner suit in this graceful ornament from Cake Topper Design (above, left). Enhancing the use of text with a warm red love heart from Coral Mint Design (above, right) is eye-catching and romantic, just right for a wedding cake.

Most of the designs shown here have been laser cut from acrylic, which is a good choice for something you’re sticking into your dessert as there is little chance it will impact the flavor or health of your wedding guests.

Personalised cake toppers using laser cut text

For a more personal touch, having names, initials or other identifying aspects of the happy couple custom laser cut is another option. Here we can see two examples; one with ornate text from Coral Mint Design highlighting the newly shared surname (below, left) and another approach taking romantic inspiration from the ever-romantic Jack Johnson song Better Together (Holiday Cake Topper, below right).

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-5

The cake toppers that we have highlighted here are just a taste of the diverse range available from savvy Etsy sellers. With as many as 2.5 million weddings annually in the US, these laser cutting entrepreneurs are on the right track by directing their creativity towards this vibrant market segment. Perhaps you can find success too, using the Ponoko Personal Factory to top off the most memorable of matrimonial desserts!

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #42

Targeting the Golf Enthusiast CEO

laser cut golf putt marker

Those hard working executives at the top of the corporate ladder need to balance their business brains with some serious leisure activities, and as every CEO knows, the golf course is a great place to escape from the pressures of the office. Golf related goodies are always popular with corporate types, and this opens up a number of opportunities to introduce laser cut promotional products to tickle the fancies of the golf enthusiast.

Genuinely useful laser cut golf accessories

laser-cut-golf-divot-repair-1

Pictured above, a laser cut divot repair tool available on Instructables incorporates a magnetic disc marker that would be an ideal surface to add laser etched logos and personalized messaging. The divot repair tool is a simple device that can take many forms, so long as the functionality of the prongs is not compromised. Use laser cutting to get creative and customize a truly unique golfing accessory.

Tee markers are also a part of the group dynamics on the golf course, and as with the divot repair tool, what happens above the ground is quite open to interpretation. The brightly colored examples here from Boyd Golf (below, left/center) show how laser cutting makes it easy to follow a golfing theme. Using the same approach to suit particular corporate clients with branded imagery, logos and text can give a personalised feel to the laser cut golf accessory.

Golf themed products

laser-cut-golf-ideas

Golf themed products are a lot of fun as well. The reliable source of quirky products Vat19 has a neat Sportula (above, right) on offer, giving the trusty BBQ tool a golfing makeover that is sure to be a talking point at post-game drinking networking events.

Laser cutting enables you to be creative in the ways that you engage with your client’s penchant for golf accessories. The Ponoko Personal Factory makes this easier than ever before! Let us know your golf-related laser cut ideas in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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How To Make a Laser Cut Wobbler

Get your creativity rolling with this simple DIY laser cut project

laser cut wobbler 1

Watching things wobble has something mysterious and mesmerising about it, and when you add in the precision of a laser cutter, the results are mathematically sublime. Building your own laser cut Wobbler is a fun way to learn about the physics behind motion and inertia, or if the how and why is not as critical for you as the what, perhaps having something novel and intriguing to roll across the table is reason enough!

Thanks to Thingiverse users Greg Zumwalt and Ella Jameson, making your own laser cut Wobbler is easier than ever. You may notice from the image above (and the video below) that Greg’s design is not actually laser cut… it has been 3D printed. That’s where Ella comes in – she remixed Greg’s design to make her laser cut version, and shared the files for others to enjoy.

Simply download Ella’s .svg files (different disk sizes have been prepared for a material thickness of 3mm) and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to laser cut in your 3mm material of choice.

Here is a video of Greg’s wobbler in action:

So how does a Wobbler work?

The Wobbler moves so nicely because its center of gravity remains very nearly constant while rolling along, thanks to the ratio between the slots that connect the disks and their radii. This can be calculated for any round-ish shape using mathematical magic, but if equations make you wobbly, then you can cheat a little and use the approximated ratio of:

Slot Length = Disk Radius * 0.293

Wobblers can come in a number of forms, and with the repeated motion of the disks as they roll along, there is a great opportunity to laser etch onto the surfaces for further visual impact. It is also possible to apply the same mathematics to other Wobbler constructions; perhaps the most notable example of this is John Edmark’s laser cut Rollipses.

Click through for a video of yet another stunning kinetic mathematical wonder from John Edmark, as well as a collection of Wobblers presented by Tim at Grand Illusions. (more…)

Understanding Button Design

A Comprehensive Product Design Guide to Push All Your Buttons

button design for laser cutting

Even with the prevalence of touch-enabled devices in our lives, the tactile button still holds its own as one of the most important physical design elements in a product. Throughout your day, you will encounter dozens (if not hundreds) of examples ranging from the thoroughly satisfying and highly engineered through to the hastily made, poorly molded and barely functional.

Getting those buttons right can be tricky, but thanks to design engineer Christian Brown’s Button Design Showcase we are able to get our heads around some of the important considerations that can help to ensure a successful outcome for your laser cut products.

“Buttons are a chance for both comfortable ergonomics and increased intuition in your product design… Large buttons surrounded by smaller ones indicate relative importance. A volume rocker button indicates a level going up and down. A single big red button says, ‘PANIC!’.”

 

How About Button Design for Laser Cutting?

By incorporating Christian’s button design insights with the thinking behind lattice (or living) hinges, we can use these same design principles for laser cutting. Enclosures for DIY electronics projects will often have holes or cavities laser cut to allow for the insertion of mechanical switches or buttons. It would certainly make the design a whole lot more interesting if these mechanical elements can become a more integral part of the laser cut pattern!

Laser Cut Buttons: Integrated

One way to do this is to add integrated spring elements to the surface of an enclosure, enabling buttons to be a part of the product housing itself. The DIY cellphone from David Mellis shows this quite effectively:

laser cut wood cellphone laser cut buttons

Laser Cut Buttons: Materials

Another option is to use an alternate material that can be fixed to the casing mechanically, much like is done in manufactured products. Alternate materials can include:

  • – color contrast (eg: different colored acrylic)
  • – translucent (eg: clear acrylic, back-lit for extra zing)
  • – rubber/silicone (using laser cutting and/or 3D printing to make a simple mold)

 

laser cut buttons emu caseimage source: BMOW

laser cut button 3d print
image source: roland.bz

Learn About Button Design

If your laser cut designs have buttons of any kind, then you should find Christian Brown’s Right On The Button: Using Design as a Showcase for Excellence an interesting read indeed. Gaining an understanding of what goes into the button design for manufactured products can help your own workflow, and aid in using laser cutting to its full potential.

Fictiv via Solidsmack

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #39

Laser Cut Summer BBQ Essentials

Laser Cut Beer Caddy Tom Keddie

As the days get longer and the hint of Summer warmth spreads its cheer, gathering together for a BBQ is a great way to reconnect with friends and family. For those who are hosting and also as gifts for (or from) the invited guests, laser cut BBQ tools and trinkets can make any event a memorable experience. Let’s take a look at a few BBQ ideas for creative brands and agencies this Summer.

Laser Cut Beer Sleeves

Pictured above, this handy beer caddy will enable up to 8 bottles or cans to be easily transported. The design makes use of the strengths of laser cutting, with interlocking components that require no adhesives and plenty of space to laser etch company, event or personalised details. Carting drinks from place to place doesn’t need to be an awkward balancing act – a laser cut beer caddy will get those drinks to your guests in style.

Laser Etched Cutting Boards

The broad, flat surface of a wooden cutting board or cheese platter is an ideal location for laser etched brand messaging. Adding details from an event, or personalising with quirky snippets and brand messaging will make this communal table item a memorable conversation starter or possibly even a desired keepsake. Examples: Dinner is Coming from Wicked Wooden Things, Mom’s recipe from 3D Carving, Lionel Richie from Darkling Designs 10.

Laser-Etched-Cutting-Boards

Laser Cut Bottle Opener

Having carted beers to all your guests, they will need a way to open the bottles. The profiles of openers are many and varied, and as these examples show, they are well suited to laser cutting. Whether you choose to have a little fun with the forms used (Beer & Friends from Hyde HousePorsche 911 classic from Racetrack Style); or incorporate the opener into an ingenious multi-tool (Hedgehog by Zootility Tools) or maybe go super-tiny like the Pangea Pico, the potential to get really creative with this simple and handy product is fantastic.

Laser-Cut-Bottle-Openers

 

Laser Cut Coasters

The surface and outline of the coaster can also be used for creating functional laser cut bottle openers, but if you’re not going that far, simply creating interesting shapes can be more than enough. Consider the laser cut and etched street map series titled I Kinda like it here by the National Design Collective, further quirky fun from Zootility and interlocking Penrose tile coasters from PhaseSpaceDesign in the Ponoko Showroom.

laser-cut-coasters

Each of these products present both an interesting form and a generous surface area where laser etching can be applied. As customised event collateral, they make for ideal promotional giveaways because they cleverly combine the feature of having fun with the function of being truly useful. All this happens while establishing further brand recognition and recall.

What other Summer BBQ Essentials can be customised for your clients using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Get Creative with 3 New Two-Color Acrylics

Have you seen our latest two-color acrylics in modern tones? We hope these spark your creativity and inspire you for your next laser-cut project. Our new acrylics are 0.8 – 2.1mm thick. With a thin layer of a different colored plastic on top. Engraving reveals the second acrylic color underneath. This results in a dramatic effect perfect for making jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays and more.

We have three new two-color acrylics available:

White on Black

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Brushed Silver on Black 

cut_edges_silver_on_black_large

Black on White

cut_edges_black_on_white_large

What we love about the two-color  acrylic is how it changes the overall look of the finished product. Here’s a great example of brushed silver on black:

Promo products

 

Laser Cut Acrylic Bending Jig

Quick approach to controlling acrylic forming

laser cut acrylic bending jig

Laser cut acrylic has so much going for it, which is why this material’s variants are among the most popular of all the options in the Ponoko Materials Catalog. Designs for laser cut acrylic tend to follow a familiar pattern; boxy shapes, notched and stepped joins and slotted connections. But what happens when your form doesn’t fit this mold?

Ceramicist Chris Donnelly used laser cutting to build himself a basic bending jig that would enable the secondary manipulation of acrylic for his students at the Edinburgh Academy. Consisting of two laser cut side panels that are bolted onto a horizontal platform, the device allows for precise control across 180 degrees of movement thanks to a vertical plane that can pivot and lock into position.

Exactly what the students are making with this jig is yet to be revealed, but it’s great to see how some quick thinking and a clever laser cut design can upgrade the capabilities of their school workshop.

For those inspired to make a laser cut bending jig of their own, the Chris has shared the files on Thingiverse.

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #37

Laser Etched QR Codes

laser QR 1

Our devices are talking to each other every day, and with all this chatter going on, making new connections or transferring data should be an effortless process. Technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and QR (Quick Response) Codes help to make these digital interactions smooth and simple. Continue reading to discover how you can use laser cutting to integrate these technologies into your products.

How does NFC and QR work?

For NFC to work, information is encoded onto an embedded chip. When two devices containing NFC chips come into contact (usually in the form of a bump or light tap) a process is engaged – payment could be transferred, data and audio connections established or other tasks involving interaction between the two devices.

QR codes operate much like a barcode; they contain a set of reference information that can be scanned using the camera on a smartphone. This prompts the device to access information such as a website address, play a video, or (as in the example above) display login credentials.

Why is this useful for your brand?

The ability to seamlessly connect can give your customers immediate access to a deeper level of information. This means you can add collateral such as image galleries, video clips and other detailed supporting content without consuming valuable real estate on your product. There is much scope to have fun with QR Codes as well as to use them for sensible, straightforward communication.

In the example shown here, Instructables user BWRussell needed a way to share the login details for his wireless network. Tired of spelling out the passphrase to relatives and visitors, he constructed his own dongle that houses an NFC chip and a laser etched QR Code. All visitors need to do is tap or scan the code with their mobile device, and they will be granted access to the network.

It is worth noting that when it comes to the actual physical QR code, a similar functional outcome can be achieved with a desktop printer… however, a laser etched QR code has a greater sense of quality and purpose.

Laser QR 2

See more of this DIY approach to NFC and QR from Instructables user BWRussell.

Can your laser cutting make connecting easy using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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