Ponoko Customer Blows Past Kickstarter Goal in One Day


Brad Hill is the creator behind LittleRP – A DLP projector-based resin printer that can be put together for as little as $499.

Brad set out to create a printer that was open, flexible and affordable. Rather than using proprietary resins, the LittleRP is designed to use as many different formulations of UV curing resins as possible. By focusing on smaller, higher quality prints, the LittleRP is able to provide high accuracy while keeping costs low.

The flexibility and low cost helps explain the explosive popularity of the LittleRP’s Kickstarter, which passed it’s funding goal of $25,000 is under 24 hours. As of this writing the LittleRP has raised over $98,000, just under 400% of it’s original goal!

The LittleRP’s sleek translucent enclosure is made from Ponoko’s Acrylic Orange Tint, and the housing is made from Melamine Finished MDF seen here:

The LittleRP works using a process known as 3D stereolithography, a 3D printing process that uses light-sensitive resin and a high intensity light source to build a 3D object, layer by layer, rather than using spools of plastic filament as on a majority of 3D printers currently on the market. You can check out the LittleRP in action on it’s Kickstarter Video:

Want to get your hands on your own LittleRP? Head over to Brad’s Kickstarter page to get one while you still can.

Inspired to make your own project? Signup to make and sell for free!

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3

Using Inkscape to design your own laser cut product from scratch

Welcome to the third instalment of Ponoko’s back-to basics tutorials. This time we get creative and generate a laser cut design from scratch that can be used with your Ponoko Personal Factory.

It all begins with key information from the Inkscape Starter Kit, a tremendously useful resource that sorts out everything you need to know about the free software package, Inkscape.

The tutorial walks through how to use Inkscape to draw a design using basic shape tools, the text tool, and Path commands. In the demonstration, Josh whips up a laser cut coaster and repeats the pattern before finalising the file to be ready for laser cutting.

In a little over ten minutes, you’ll be able to:

• Create a design from scratch with Inkscape
• Create and combine basic shapes
• Check your design in outline mode
• Format your design for laser cutting

Stay tuned for Ponoko’s Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 4 where we get to see the laser work its magic.

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Photochemical Machining Goes Bohemian

Digital fabrication meets ancient jewelry making techniques

Rachel Dropp is the one-woman operation behind Raw Elements Jewelry, a brand that combines modern Photochemical Machining (PCM) with traditional jewelry-making techniques. The results are unique hand-crafted pieces that feature a raw, unique style.

The pieces in the Raw Elements Jewelry line drawn inspirations everywhere from French needle point lace to the phases of the moon.

“While creating new collections I adhere to 3 aesthetic themes: rustic nature, bohemian and sacred geometry.”

The pieces are designed by Dropp, who then hammers, polishes, patinas and does the final soldering to arrive at her finished product. “I love incorporating all of the processes” Dropp says, “because it keeps things interesting and it allows me to have a great mix of products to offer to my customers.”

As someone who enjoys working on the creative side, Rachel initially found it difficult to jump into sales. “I’ve had to step outside my comfort zone” Dropp says “to call boutiques that I feel would be interested in selling my wares and to make appointments”.

Stepping out of her comfort zone has paid off for Dropp, who’s jewelry is now available online on her website and Etsy store as well as in boutiques everywhere from Sonoma County to the San Francisco Bay area

I asked Rachel what was on the horizon for Raw Elements Jewelry. “Coming up in August, I will be attending the Bodega Bay Seafood Art and Wine Festival and then in the beginning of September I will have a booth at Bhakti Fest in Southern California. I also plan to launch a new collection of mini sacred geometry charm necklaces.”

You can purchase Raw Elements Jewelry online at rawelementsjewelry.com or at any of the stores and boutiques listed on her site.

Inspired to design your own product line? Make it with Ponoko!

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial – Part 1

Getting started with your Ponoko Personal Factory

In this back-to-basics tutorial video, we walk through the process of making a set of laser cut coasters from a free design file.

Following these steps is a great way to get started with Ponoko and realise what’s possible using your own Personal Factory.

In a few short minutes, you will know how to:

• Download a free design file
• Add it to your Personal Factory
• Choose material options to get personal pricing
• Place an order

We’ve made it really easy to start making and get a feel for the laser cutting process. Stay tuned for future posts in this back-to-basics series as you work towards generating your own custom designs and becoming a successful digital maker.

Here is where you can download the free design file featured in the video: Custom Made Coasters

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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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Design Challenge: Over $2,500 up for Grabs!

This month, we’ve added three new premium wood veneers to our materials catalogue. To celebrate, we’re throwing a design challenge with $2,500+ in prizes up for grabs!

The Challenge:

Using one of our new premium materials, design a product that flaunts your creative brilliance and showcases the quality of our new premium materials.

The Materials:

Left to right: 3.5mm Maple, Cherry & Walnut Veneer. Click here to enlarge.

These high quality veneers have a wood laminate on each side which is sanded smooth and finished with a clear coat. The premium appearance makes these materials ideal for jewelry, coasters, clocks, or other high end products.

How to Enter:

Step 1 – Make with a Free P1:

Place an order with your Personal Factory using one or more of our new premium materials. To give you a leg up, your first P1 is on us.

Step 2 – Submit:

Take some great photos of your creation and share them with us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram before 10pm PDT on August 24, 2014. Use the hashtag #ponokonewmaterials to make your entry official.

Step 3 – Vote:

We will select the top sumbissions and post them on our blog for the community to vote; then it’s up to you to tell your friends and family to head over to our blog so they can vote for you!

Check out the design challenge rules & guidelines for all of the competition details.

Competition Calendar:

The Prizes: (Over $2,500 up for grabs!)

  • Grand Prize – $600 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($1,068 value.)
  • 2nd Place – $450 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($918 value.)
  • 3rd Place – $300 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for 6 months ($434 value.)

How Voting Works:

Ponoko will select the finalists and post them to our blog on August 26th, 2014. Readers with vote for their favorites on our blog between August 26th and September 1st.

All winners will be announced via the blog on August 26th, 2014.

Judging Criteria:

Finalists will be selected using the following criteria, in no particular order:

  • Clarity and resolution of design.
  • Originality.
  • Presentation and photography.
  • Interesting use of material(s).
  • Attention to detail.
  • Production feasibility.
  • Market appeal.

Again, be sure to check out all of the competition rules and guidelines before submitting, and good luck!

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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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NEW Materials: Three New Premium Veneers

Three new premium wood veneers for your premium products

EDIT: 7/15 – To celebrate the launch of these new premium materials, we’re throwing a design competition with over $2,500 worth of prizes up for grabs!

Left to right: 3.5mm Maple, Cherry & Walnut Veneer

We’ve expanded our material selection in the US with three new premium wood veneers.

These high quality veneers have a wood laminate on each side which is sanded smooth and finished with a clear coat. The premium appearance makes these materials ideal for jewelry, coasters, clocks, or other high end products.

Click on the images below or head over to the materials page to get all the details on our new premium woods.

Premium Veneer MDF – Cherry:

Premium Veneer MDF – Maple:

Premium Veneer MDF – Walnut:

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We’re Hiring! Community & Customer Success Manager

Ponoko is looking for a Community Manager to lead our growing community of product designers

You can’t imagine anything better than working with an innovative industry pioneer, leading an online community of 100,000+ product designers making and selling their custom products online.

You’re a natural communicator who delights customers all day long by delivering a highly empathetic, top quality and timely customer service experience.

You will answer questions regarding our services, help our customers successfully prepare their design files to make their product ideas real, and liaise with our production team to ensure on-time delivery of quality custom products.

This is a great opportunity for a recent communications or arts graduate, designer or maker to immerse into the world of custom product design and online digital making. And to be the ‘customer’s voice’ at our innovative and creative business, renown for over the top customer service.

Ponoko was the first to help designers make and sell their products online, enabling them to make a living from their creativity. We’re one of the world’s leading companies in the online digital making industry, and have been featured in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN Money, Inc. Magazine (cover), Forbes, Wired, Core77, TechCrunch, Makezine, MIT Technology Review, BBC News and The Economist.

Key Duties
• Manage our community of designers and inspire creative opportunities.
• Answer inbound email (and some phone) questions relating to customer orders, design file preparation, materials and our service generally.
• Interact with our community through various channels – email, social media, in person at events.
• Inspire customers through timely and creative resolution of their enquiries.
• Coordinate order fulfillment and customer happiness with the production team.
• Delight customers with the unexpected, and put a smile on their faces.

Reporting
• Report to the Chief Executive.
• Manage the customer service team.

Key Qualifications
• 2-3 years in customer service / customer success / community management.
• Impeccable verbal and written communication skills.
• Thrives in situations where electronic communication is the primary medium.
• Happy, empathetic, calm and professional when assisting customers.
• Proactive. Detail oriented. Process driven. All three.
• Likes to lead and enjoys working independently.
• Effective at multi­tasking and prioritizing the daily rush of tasks.
• Vector design skills with Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape and Coreldraw.
• Current authorization to work in the United States on a full­time basis.

Other Qualifications We Love But Don’t Require

• Designing for digital fabrication.
• Experience with laser cutting.
• Managing others towards a goal.
• 3D modeling with Solidworks, 123D, Inventor, Blender, SketchUp, Rhino, Meshlab, and Netfabb.

Benefits
• Market salary.
• Unlimited paid time off.
• Run your own ship.
• Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.
• Stock options.

To Apply
Introduce yourself and send your resume and examples of your customer interaction work or writing to derek [at] ponoko [dot] com.

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Introducing Loyalty Pricing for Prime Members

Save up to 55%, just for sticking with Prime

As a way to say “thanks” to all our loyal Prime customers, we are offering a lower per-minute rate for laser cutting for every month you are a Prime customer.

Your lower per-minute rate starts the month you sign up for Prime:

Month 1: 32.5% off ($1.35/minute).
Month 2: 33.5% off ($1.33/minute).
Month 3: 34.5% off ($1.33/minute).
Month 4: 36% off ($1.28/minute).
Month 5: 37.5% off ($1.25/minute).
Month 6: 39.5% off ($1.21/minute).
Month 7: 41.5% off ($1.17/minute).
Month 8: 43.5% off ($1.13/minute).
Month 9: 46% off ($1.08/minute).
Month 10: 48.5% off ($1.03/minute).
Month 11: 51.5% off ($0.97/minute).
Months 12+: 55% off ($0.90/minute).

You will automatically receive your new loyalty rate each month you renew your Prime subscription. You will always receive the lowest price as between your loyalty rate and your volume rate.

How to get these lower rates:

  1. Join Prime.
  2. Place your order as normal.
  3. That’s it! Loyalty pricing will automatically be applied to your order every month.

Notes: Lower pricing applies to laser making costs (excluding metal laser and 3D printing), when ordering from Ponoko US and NZ. You’ll lose your entire loyalty status if you quit your Prime account.

If you have any questions about volume pricing don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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