Make Halloween Spooktacular; Order By These Deadlines

halloween-deadline

Skulls and spiders and witches, too
Ghosts, goblins and things that go boo
Your favorite time of year is near
Because Halloween is almost here!

 

What’s Halloween without fun costumes and scary decorations? Whether you like black cats, bats, pumpkins or zombies, there’s something ghoulish to add a little fright to this special night.

3D Laser Cut Skulls make festive decorations and are a fun activity for family and friends. Get the how-to instructions at Instructables.

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For more Halloween inspiration, check out these mini laser cut skull and cross bones from Etsy seller TimberGreenWoods, who says the charms are great for beads, crafting, confetti or whatever else your imagination can dream up.

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And these laser cut witches from Etsy seller ecoandfun will have you chanting “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

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Don’t forget to check out the Ponoko Showroom for even more ideas.

Want this Halloween to be frightfully special? Then you better get your designs ready to start making! Your spooktacular creations take time to make, so jot down these important dates. If you miss ’em, it will be all trick and no treat!

Laser Cutting Order Deadlines

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Thursday, October 13, 2016
Upgraded Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Metal Machining (PCM) Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

3D Printing Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

What’s the difference between standard and upgraded services for laser cutting? With standard making and shipping speeds, there are no extra fees for production or shipping if you order by the October 13 deadline.

But what if you miss the deadline because your black cat ate your sketches? Not to worry, you can upgrade to faster making speed and expedited shipping so you don’t miss out on the fun. This means you can wait to order…but only if you’re not frightened by a little price increase!

Also, delivery dates are dependent on shipping locations. To make sure your order is in your hot little hands in time for Halloween, check the Estimated Delivery Date provided when placing an order. If it’s after October 28, then adjust the making speed or shipping speed (or both) until your preferred delivery date appears.

Don’t have a horrific Halloween. Start making today. Or else you’ll be haunted until next year!

 

New Material: Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic

Just Released In The NZ Materials Catalog

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Silver and black is classy. Elegant and understated. Nice contrast without being as stark as black and white. And this brushed silver on black acrylic will give the New Zealand market a new alternative to metal at an affordable price.

It’s 1.6mm thick black acrylic with a thin layer of brushed silver on top. Having the second color means the hassle of hand painting to achieve contrast has been eliminated. And since this two-color acrylic engraves nicely to reveal the black underneath, it’s ideal for making jewelry, signage and front panels on electronics.

 

Acrylic – Two Color – Brushed Silver on Black

Learn more about Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic and get a Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic Sample.

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With the addition of this new two-color acrylic, we now have 22 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our NZ catalog. And if you like the concept of dual color combos, you may also want to check out Matte Black On White Acrylic.

 

Are you ready to have some fun with this new material? We are. So let’s get making. Share what you’d like to create with this new material by leaving a comment below!

 

New Materials: 3 Matte Acrylics – Turquoise, Yellow & Pink

Just Released In The USA Materials Catalog

From nail polish to furniture (and even some cars!), matte finishes are so on-trend. And now you can incorporate a matte finish in your designs with the introduction of three matte acrylics for the USA market: Turquoise, Yellow and Pink.

What’s super cool about these new acrylics is that they are translucent with a matte finish on both sides. So not only is the finish and texture new but so are the exciting new colors!

With a 3mm thickness, these acrylics are perfect for jewelry, enclosures, signage, business cards, luggage tags, name badges or anything that needs a soft, matte finish color.

 

Acrylic – Turquoise (Matte)

Learn more about Turquoise Matte Acrylic and get a Turquoise Sample.

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Acrylic – Yellow (Matte)

Learn more about Yellow Matte Acrylic and get a Yellow Sample.

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Acrylic – Pink (Matte)

Learn more about Pink Matte Acrylic and get a Pink Sample.

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With the addition of these three new matte finishes, we now have 42 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our USA catalog. While the majority of our acrylic sheets are smooth, we recently introduced a couple that are matte on one side and shiny on the other. But the turquoise, yellow and pink matte acrylics are the first to be matte on BOTH sides.

 

So what do you think? Are you as stoked about these new materials as we are? Let us know what great ideas you have for using these acrylics by leaving a comment below!

 

Material Feature: Laser Cut Cardboard

Five Reasons Why The Cheapest Material Is Often The Best

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Have you ever stopped to wonder where we would be without cardboard? For designers and makers using the Ponoko Personal Factory, cardboard is a miracle material that is not only one of the most versatile in terms of its physical properties; it is also one of the most cost-effective ways to turn ideas into laser cut reality.

Here are five reasons why we think laser cut cardboard is really, really cool.

1. Material Choice: The Cardboard Range

The versatility of cardboard owes much to its actual construction, and to make the most of these physical properties it helps to choose the right cardboard for the job. The range on offer from Ponoko varies from 6.7mm double-layer corrugated cardboard for serious structural applications through to single layer natural cardboard that is just 0.5mm thick. So whether your project involves stacked layers, slotted construction, curves, bends or folds… chances are there is something in the Ponoko Materials Library that will be just what you are looking for.

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2. Disposable or Distinguished: Cheap Enough For Prototypes, Slick Enough For Art Objects

Laser cut cardboard can be used as a low-cost prototype option before moving to more expensive materials, or as many designers choose to do, the distinctive visual qualities of cardboard can be openly embraced as features of the final product.

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3. Design Flexibility: 2D or 3D

Designing for laser cut cardboard can be as easy as sketching out a shape or pattern to be cut as a simple 2d object. Or if you prefer, complex 3D forms can be created using slotted construction, tabs and folds, and even stacking layers to create the form through progressive topographical variation.

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4. Low Price: Material Cost and Laser Cutting Time

We keep going on about it, and for good reason. Cardboard is cheap, in the best possible way. As a raw material, it has a low cost price thanks to the huge amounts that are used in the packaging industry across the globe. Cardboard is lightweight, which makes it faster and more economical to ship. When it comes to laser cutting, the unique internal structure of corrugated cardboard means it is fast to cut – and that makes cardboard one of the lowest priced of all the materials in terms of laser cutting time.

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5. Brownie Points: Recycled and Recyclable

A lot of people feel good when they use cardboard products. Not only is there a high proportion of recycled content in the cardboard itself, there are systems in place in most urban centers for cardboard recycling that make it one of the easiest materials to reuse, once your own needs for the cardboard product have concluded. So whether it’s the warm fuzzy feeling you get personally or if you’re setting an example for others with a bold ‘eco’ statement, cardboard gives your design a certain credibility that is instantly recognised across the globe.

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Cardboard deserves its reputation amongst the most popular materials for laser cutting, being well suited to both laser cutting and laser etching. Thanks to the versatility of cardboard in terms of price, appearance and structural properties, we continue to see designers find new and exciting ways to explore their creativity.

What will you make using cardboard for your next laser cut project? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits (in order of appearance) 
3D Skull, Cardboard Safari; Cardboard, Ponoko Materials; Lady in Fur laser etched cardboard art; Airplane Costume, Aidan Chopra; Thumbs Up, UMBC Prototyping and Design; Laser Cut Rocket, Ponoko; Laser Cut Bin, Ponoko Line Optimisation Guide.

Successful Seller Spotlight: Laser Cut Baking Products

Etsy Sellers Baking Up A Laser Cut Storm

laser cut baking etsy humbleelephant dino rolller

Food cooked with love has a certain magic to it, and one way that keeps the glow in the heart of the kitchen is when chefs have a collection of baking products they love to use. Laser cutting and laser etching open up an exciting world of customized, personal, fun and quirky kitchen related products. Let’s take a look at a few laser cut baking product highlights from successful Etsy stores.

Pictured above is a dino-themed laser etched rolling pin from Humble Elephant. For those baking cookies with a more sophisticated crowd in mind, there is the ornately decorated rolling pin (below, left), one of many variations on this theme from Algis Crafts. Laser cut stencils are another great way to add personality to baked goods, as we can see with the laser cut acrylic Pan stencil (below, right) from the aptly named Laser Stencils. These can be used to dust icing sugar or cocoa onto cookies, and they also make great additions to the barrista’s kitchen toolkit.

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When baking cupcakes, muffins and sweet doughy treats it can be fun to further accessorise and decorate before serving to your guests. Laser cut text from Just Lovett Design makes the cupcakes even more enticing (below, bottom-left) and another approach to little signs from Marked Moments (below, top-left) uses laser etched wood toppers, which look great as a collection across the table. Try for a hint of romance with the hot pink cupcake toppers by Funky Laser (below, center) or send kids on a prehistoric sugar high with dino doughnut toppers from Creative Muster (below, right).

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Cupcakes patties and wrappers are also well suited to laser cutting… and the best thing is that they can be made from paper or thin card, which means they are super-cheap to produce. Featured below we have a Princess crown from Liv Desi, and an elegant lace wrapper that is quite at home amongst the fine china from Mystique Weddings. A more modern version with a botanical theme comes next from Gift Paper, and a spider’s web wrapper that would be a hit on Halloween is one of many fun ideas from Miniature Sweet.

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One thing all bakers know is that cupcakes don’t come in ones or twos; when you’re baking, you’d better bake by the dozen to make sure no-one misses out. Laser cut acrylic cupcake stands are an effective way to display cakes at events, in stores, at a market stall or even just at home on the kitchen counter.

The versatility that laser cutting provides means you can get quite creative without compromising on structural integrity, as we can see in the examples below. On the left, the multi-level pink acrylic stand from Hot Spot Tooling LTD boasts four levels of display space. Similar in size but this time using clear acrylic, the fully loaded multi-tier stand from North American Shop lets the colors of the cakes do the talking. Forms can also easily be produced from 2D laser cut materials that draw inspiration from traditional furniture, such as the Simply Stunning Event laser cut acrylic cake stand (below, right).

laser-cut-baking-etsy-acrylic-cake-stands

Cooking utensils, particularly those made from bamboo and engineered ply, are well suited to laser cutting and the addition of laser etched details. This is an opportunity to show a little personality and humor, as we can see with the immortalisation of Mom’s Apple Pie recipe from Marcella’s Engravables and the Breaking Bad themed spatula by Wooden Maden.

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Cooking with tools and utensils that you love is a whole lot more fun, and adding finishing touches with personality and spark will make for an eye-catching spread on the table. Using laser cutting and laser etching, these creative opportunities become within reach for even the smallest of baking ventures. Let us know in the comments below if you have other fun ideas of how to use laser cutting and laser etching for baking products.

 

 

How Motion Synth Became A Laser Cut Success

Motion Synth: A Laser Cut Kickstarter Success Story

AUUG Motion Synth

When the Auug team dreamed up their novel music interface the Motion Synth, they knew that there would be a great response from musicians and enthusiasts alike. Before Motion Synth, there was no integrated system that allowed for electronic musicians to interact with their instrument in a natural, intuitive way.

The innovation that makes all the difference with the Motion Synth is in the way that it combines a cleverly resolved physical interface with the robust and technologically powerful iOS mobile device range. Motion Synth consist of three elements, all working together: the AUUG Grip, the AUUG app and the AUUG cloud.

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The Grip is what we’re focusing on here. Laser cut from aluminium and then CNC cold-formed, it encases an iPhone or iPod touch in a way that leaves the fingers free to interact with physically defined regions on the screen. All this happens without interfering with the intuitive process of actually playing music; no distraction from whether the device is secure, or looking to see where to place the fingers.

You may think this sounds a bit like a 21st Century Theremin, but there is actually a whole lot more to the Motion Synth. A true laser cut success story, the Motion Synth is a showpiece for the integration of digital manufacturing technologies such as laser cutting with high-end electronic devices.

Auug’s Motion Synth is a fantastic example of how laser cutting gives product developers the ability to go from concept to fully functional prototype in a smooth, efficient workflow. Already highly resolved prior to the successful Kickstarter campaign, the commercial product has also received serious attention from investors on Shark Tank Australia. By working with the available technologies and making clever use of their combined strengths, AUUG founder Dr Joshua Young is breaking new ground with the Motion Synth.

We highly recommend checking out the product videos on auug.com to see just how amazing this combination of physical and electronic components can be, and you can also learn more about the product development and public funding process at the Motion Synth Kickstarter campaign.

 

 

Understanding the Difference Between Engraving, Etching and Marking

Laser cutting

Engraving, etching and marking are often used interchangeably when it comes to laser cutting. But did you know there’s actually a difference between these three terms? Don’t worry, if you use one term to refer to another, we won’t take it against you. Not many know the difference. All three refer to permanent marking on a material.

Here’s how to tell which one best describes the right laser cutting technique:

  • Laser Marking – This is done with a low-powered beam by discoloring the material to create a high-contrast without actually disrupting the material’s surface. The marking is done via oxidation under the surface causing it to tun black. It is sometimes called laser coloration or laser dark marking. It is most commonly used on metals but the charring effect can also be done on plastic materials. It is typically used for serial numbers or model codes with great application in the medical or automotive fields. Laser marking can be used on flat, curved or round surfaces.
  • Laser Engraving – This, on the otherhand, cuts a cavity through the material’s surface leaving a cavity that reveals an image or writing at eye level that is noticeable to the touch as well. This is done with high heat laser causing the material surface to vaporize. It is very precise and is often a good option for people who want to personalize or customize something. Engrving depth can vary between 0.02″ in metals to 0.125 in harder materials. You can engrave almost any type of material but are most commonly used for metal, plastics, wood, leather, glass and acrylic.
  • Laser Etching – This is really a subset of engraving, with the main difference being the depth of the cut. This is usually no more than 0.001 inch — which makes it the most viable option for thin materials and small projects such as jewelry.

Those are the basic definitions and differences between the three terms often used for laser cutting. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

 

 

 

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #45

In The Right Frame Of Mind – Using Customized Picture Frames as a Marketing Toolcustom-laser-cut-frames-collage9

People love to have their favorite pictures on display, and laser cutting offers a fantastic potential for creative customized picture frame solutions. By incorporating laser cutting into your design process, custom picture frames can be a valuable marketing tool for your brand.

How to use laser cutting for picture frames

There are a number of different approaches you can take, from material selection to cut path complexity and adding laser etched details. The example above from Picture It Creations shows one way to use laser cut text, this time cut from colored matte board.

Let’s take a look at a few more approaches to laser cut customized picture frames.

Incorporating silhouettes

The perimeter of the photograph can be manipulated to fit within a chosen graphic theme, creating dynamic points of interest for the eye to follow. This can be seen with the banyan trees and the Seattle skyline frames from Elise Koncsek.
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Familiar laser cut and etched details

Building a box frame using the iconic laser cut tabbed construction as demonstrated here by Lasercutouts (below, left) can be a neat way to enhance the physical presence of the frame. Another familiar visual element is the use of laser etched details, as shown in the soccer team frame by R Keepsakes.

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Stylized objects and forms

Laser cutting enables a playful creativity that can open up new directions to explore, as with the nostalgic tv frame design (below, left) from Phings and the specially designed Ultrasound Frame (below, right) from Gravi Art.

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Ornate borders

Replicating traditional carved frames from different historic periods and artistic genres, The Wood Shape Store has some interesting approaches to using laser cutting for custom picture frames. Included in the mix below are two baroque/gothic style frames, as well as a deco geometric example (below, left) that consists of discrete elements to be mounted or installed onto an additional support structure.

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Delicate details

Laser cutting can be quite delicate, as we can see in the repetitive pattern design from Swirlydoos (below, left). Merging the traditional with contemporary techniques and materials, acrylic brooch frames from Emi Ko Supplies (below, right) look light-hearted and fun, thanks to the juxtaposition of playful materials and the ornate design.

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Both laser cutting and laser etching feature in the numerous frame designs from HMCrafters (below). By choosing to use laser etched details, the tone, grain and surface singed wood becomes a distinctive feature that is iconic and readily identifiable to laser cutting.

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With the custom wedding invitations from The Redd Press Shop (below) the use of laser etched details is further enhanced by layering materials to add contrast and impact to the laser cutting.

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While many of the laser cut frames featured in this post are specifically targeted to the consumer, it is not too much of a leap to see how a similar approach can be applied to promotional products for an event, conference or particular marketing theme. Let us know if you’ve seen other great ideas for laser cut customized picture frames in the comments below; and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

 

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Customized Laser Cutting for Tech Geeks

Designing Your Own Enclosures for Electronics Projects

adafruit laser cut enclosure

Laser cutting has long been the chosen solution for many DIY electronics project enclosures, and with good reason. By building a custom case using laser cutting, you are able to protect components, give precise access to interface elements, and also add laser etched details that communicate function and branding.

We’ve previously taken a look at how to make a laser cut enclosure using Box Maker and similar plugins for laser cutter-friendly software programs. Another neat browser-based option is MakerCase (screenshot below) where it is easier than ever to enter design constraints, interact with a 3D model of the enclosure and then save a file that is ready for laser cutting.

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These fantastic tools and software solutions go a long way in making laser cut enclosure design accessible for projects large and small. While a laser cut enclosure can be quite simple, the thorough breakdown by Phillip Burgess on Adafruit covers a number of key considerations and comes strongly recommended indeed. The eye-catching rainbow Raspberry Pi case pictured at the top of this post is a prime example of the way that the strengths of laser cutting can be leveraged to produce unique, desirable outcomes.

Personal projects get a serious boost from laser cut enclosures, and the next step is often to produce and sell products that look both professional and highly resolved. A notable example of how custom laser cut enclosures have helped turn personal projects into Kickstarter success stories is the Game Frame (pictured below) from Jeremy Williams.

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So whether you’ve baked yourself a techno treat with the Raspberry Pi, or created new possibilities using the latest boards from Arduino; those electronic projects can get such a boost when a custom laser cut enclosure is added to the mix.

In short, laser cutting enables customization and full control over the following design and interface elements:

Protect components: Boards, screens and connectors can all be housed securely.
Location of openings: Plugs, connectors, lights and vents can all be positioned in exactly the right spot.
Communication: Adding custom branding, labels to ports, and a bit of personal flair.

Be sure to read through the Adafruit Laser Cut Enclosure Design Overview and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to get the prototyping process started right away. Let us know in the comments below if you know of any other handy tips and resources for making laser cut electronics enclosures.

 

Laser Cut Success Stories: Akujin Corps Etsy Store

How to quit your day job and find success with niche laser cut products 

akujincorps - laser cut glasses

Robert Overstreet was once a mild mannered IT consultant with a passion for cosplay on the side, but thanks to some clever design thinking and effective use of the Ponoko Personal Factory, his Akujin Corps Etsy store has turned into a serious full-time business.

Akujin Corps specialises in laser cut acrylic glasses for cosplay enthusiasts. The designs are inspired by the dynamic characters from various anime, comics and other media – a wildly creative culture where everyday boundaries blur with fantastical action and adventure.

Let’s take a look at Robert’s journey and reflections on his laser cutting experience with Ponoko.

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How did you get started as a designer and seller on Etsy?

To be honest I do not recall how I found Etsy. I expect it was mentioned somewhere while looking for alternatives to eBay.

What was the inspiration behind your product?

I started going to conventions in the mid-1990s. As cosplay started becoming more common over the next few years I noticed a lot of Vash cosplayers did not have glasses or had poor replicas. I searched online and found the official movic replicas selling on eBay for $150-$300 and the poor replicas selling at about $90. I bought up a few pairs of similar looking glasses and modified the arms and started selling them for $20 on eBay. I did not make a lot, but I made enough to afford buying more glasses to modify as well as my anime, comics and games.

What led to you try Ponoko?

Before I found Ponoko my products were very limited. I mostly worked with existing products that I purchased modified, then resold.

In 2012 I discovered Ponoko. Now I could design and cut acrylic and started making unique designs instead of modifying existing products. When business started picking up in late 2013 I had to choose between working full-time in IT for the county or my glasses. Certain circumstances came up and I put in my two weeks notice with the county and have been making glasses since.
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What are the top 3 things you love about Ponoko? Why?

The simple design requirements, the great customer service, and a fairly decent number of materials to choose from.

The design requirements are easy to understand and work with in inkscape which is free. Files can be created saved edited without expensive software or conversion.
It is not unusual for me to receive product and let it sit for a few days before I need to assemble a piece from the lastest Ponoko delivery. Sometimes I find my acrylic parts are damaged under the original paper by the manufacturer. When I contact Ponoko about this issue or other issues like product broken in the mail or cut in the wrong color which both very rarely occur, I never have any trouble getting in touch with Ponoko’s customer service who quickly arrange for a replacement. The number of materials to choose from in acrylic alone is pretty great. I have only run into a few instances where color limitation was an issue and in those cases Ponoko was willing to help me with a custom order.

How did you make (and sell) your glasses before Ponoko? How is this different from your Ponoko process?

From 1996 until 2012 I worked with existing products modifying them to create new products. I believe I had about 17 unique products until I started working with Ponoko. After the discovery of Ponoko in late 2012 I went from making a few different products to hundreds of unique items in less than a year.

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How long does it take to go from: (i) idea to design; (ii) design to prototype; (ii) prototype to product; (iv) product to first customer (or media attention)? How do these 4 speeds compare to doing this without Ponoko?

With Ponoko, From idea to design takes an hour or two, and design to prototype takes about a week. If the design works out I also end up with a product at this point. If the design does not work out I am looking at another hour or two fixing issues with the design and another week waiting for the revised design to be delivered. Once I have a new product listed on Etsy I usually have my first order within a week. Without Ponoko or a similar service my business does not exist.

What advice do you want to give to other designer/sellers?

Do not take criticism and feedback personally, but do not let people walk all over you either. Customer service is important but you should expect to be treated respectfully by your customers as well.

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So now that you know the story behind Akujin Corps, you can find the current range of laser cut cosplay glasses on Etsy.

If you’re inspired by Robert’s success to try laser cutting your own products, head over to the Ponoko Personal Factory and start making today.