How to: design a laser-cut box for your DIY electronics project

Who doesn’t like putting things in boxes!?

This mixer rehousing project is the perfect example of what you can do with a laser cutter and an online box-making app. If you prefer to use a tool integrated into Inkscape to make your finger-jointed box template, check out this sweet plugin.

With tools like these it’s getting easier and easier to design your own project enclosures ready to be shipped from your Personal Factory.

3D printed mounting boards and boxes

Designing boards and enclosures for your DIY electronics projects with free software
Rob Miles has posted a great introduction to using FreeCAD to make mounting boards and boxes for his DIY electronics projects. In this case he is using Gadgeteer hardware modules but the process could be adapted to any kind of board.

Force Effect for Android

Autodesk releases Android version of their conceptual simulation app

There are times when you don’t have a workstation handy; and even your laptop may be out of reach when a lightbulb-moment pops up and that tricky design idea needs your attention.

In late 2011, Autodesk released ForceEffect for IOS devices. After over 100,000 Apple flavoured downloads, the mobile simulation app is now available for use on Android devices as well.

This neat little program enables designers and engineers to quickly simulate design options at the early conceptual phases. There is an intuitive drawing environment in which constraints can be added to object elements, enabling the simulation of forces and structural behaviours under load.

Would this be useful for your digital manufacturing workflow?

A video run-through of the ForceEffect user interface follows after the break.   (more…)

No CAD skills? No problem. Formulor lets anyone create lasercut designs.

Turn your design ideas into real products.

Berlin-based company Formulor was founded by a team with over ten years of experience in laser-cutting and design. Formulor launched in 2010 and became our first manufacturing partner in the EU.

With the release of the Personal Factory API, the Formulor team began working on a whole new site and improved user interface.

The new Formulor site is now live and features a great built-in design tool that lets you create your design right on the page.

Just pick your material (25 to choose from), select a size and thickness, then start creating your design with the various shape, text, and line tools.


Apps for the Maker Movement — 3D fabrication from molecules to motorcars

Changing the way things are made.

Last weekend at Maker Faire, Wired editor-in-chief and Ponoko advisory board member Chris Anderson took center stage to talk about the new industrial revolution and the next phase in that revolution: apps.

Just as the personal computer, the desktop printer, and software applications came together to democratize the printing industry, this same combination is democratizing manufacturing.

This democratization of manufacturing is what Ponoko is working towards. We’re on a mission to make it easier to make things. And the key to empowering everyone to make their own products is a new market of product creations apps.

To enable this market, we released the Personal Factory API. Our API allows developers to integrate Ponoko’s manufacturing solutions into all kinds of applications.

Announcing 4 apps that will change the way things are made.
We are proud and endlessly excited to announce the first four apps to be built using the Personal Factory API.

Local Motors Fab Shop

Make custom car parts with the Local Motors Fab Shop. Design your part with Solid Edge Design 1 or other CAD software. Upload your design to the Fab Shop, and Local Motors manufactures your custom part with precision waterjet cutting. Knocking down the barriers between you and the car of your dreams. Find the Local Motors Fab Shop in the Personal Factory App Gateway.


3D-printed mini lathe

Getting some serious work out of your hobby 3D printer.

It has been said that once you have a lathe you can make just about any other tool. This open-source printable mini lathe could be the perfect place to get started. With the quality of hobby printers increasing so rapidly, it is great to see complex mechanical models like this making their way out into the ecosystem.

(We’ve seen a printed mini-lathe before, but that project seems to be obsolete now.)

Autodesk releases 123D Make Intro mobile app — turn 3D models into 2D build plans

3D design into 2D diy kit? There’s an app for that.

Just when you thought it was easier than ever to design and make stuff using Autodesk’s 123D suite of apps, today Autodesk has released an iOS version of their model-and-make software tool, 123D Make.

123D Make Intro iOS app is FREE and available for the iPhone and iPad.

123D Make is also available as a web-based and PC application, and — as of today — as a Mac OSX application.

So what does it do, exactly? 123D Make is all about converting your 3D models into 2D pieces for easy assembly, complete with animated instructions. You can print out the patterns and cut the pieces yourself or — thanks to the Ponoko Personal Factory API — you can have your pieces lasercut & shipped to your door.


Autodesk announces updated 123D site plus what’s in store for 123D app suite!

What’s new and what’s coming soon from Autodesk 123D

Autodesk, creators of some of the most popular design software on the market, recently announced a completely updated 123D site — where you can turn your design files into real products.

The company has also released news on what’s coming soon for the 123D app suite, a collection of 4 free and easy to use design tools also available on the 123D site.

Autodesk 123D + Ponoko Personal Factory API

Autodesk’s 123D website uses Ponoko’s Personal Factory API to handle the magic that happens between the digital design and the real-life product.

Since the beginning of our partnership last year, we’ve been pairing Ponoko’s pioneering technology and expertise in the make-it-yourself movement with Autodesk’s ingenuity and talent for developing powerful design software.

We want the Personal Factory API to create a whole new market of product creation and customization apps; so we are really excited about the continued development of the 123D site and expansion of the 123D app suite. Here’s break down of what’s new and what’s coming soon from Autodesk 123D!


Fritzing: an open-source community for DIY electronics

Learn, build, document, fabricate, share…

Fritzing is an open-source initiative to support designers, artists, researchers and hobbyists to work creatively with interactive electronics. We are creating a software and website in the spirit of Processing and Arduino, developing a tool that allows users to document their prototypes, share them with others, teach electronics in a classroom, and to create a pcb layout for professional manufacturing.

I got introduced to Fritzing through a tipoff on the Ponoko User’s Forum and all I can say is ‘wow!’ It’s an amazing tool to support people all the way from their first taste of electronics to final production of their own designs.

Check it out!

PotteryPrint: the new 3D printing iPad app for kids

With the right technology, 3D printing is child’s play.

PotteryPrint is a truly exciting new iPad app that lets children use a virtual pottery wheel to create completely unique works of art ready for 3d printing.

The PotteryPrint team is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter to take their prototype to deployment.

They’ve got 20 days and $10,000 to go. You can support the project for as little as $1, and they’ve got some great pledge rewards including a home-baked dozen of your favorite cookies!

I talked to Brian, Cameron and Shlok from PotteryPrint to find out more about this app, their inspiration behind the project, and their thoughts on the intersection of technology and childhood education.

First up, can a kid really use a 3D modeling app?
Kids can do amazing things if given the right tools, but until now the majority of 3D design software has been created using traditional CAD-based software which is often complex and takes some training to use effectively.

The amazing thing about tablets is that the touchscreen interface just clicks with kids. I (Cameron) have a two year old and four year old — both can easily navigate the family iPad: pointing at something comes far more naturally to children than using a mouse. The combination of touchscreen and the malleability of clay makes PotteryPrint immediately accessible to kids. It calls on something natural, something primitive. Your hands, making something.