How to etch mirror acrylic

Laser etched impact made easy

As the Festive Season approaches and we become more and more enamoured with all things shiny, here are our tips on how to use laser etching for some serious impact on mirror acrylic.

People love the combination of crisp laser definition with the reflective sheen of mirror acrylic, and to create these effects there are a few key points to remember. The main one is that you’re not etching into the surface of the acrylic, but rather through the reflective coating on the rear of the material.

Another tip that may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it can sneak up on you – remember to reverse the artwork so that it reads correctly when viewed from the other side of the sheet.

For an informative collection of examples including vector and raster engraving, as well as different approaches to filling the etched designs, head over to the Ponoko Support Forums for the full scoop.

Ponoko presents: Laser Etched Mirror Acrylic

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Ponoko Customer Captures Oakland Spirit

Oakland inspired designs from Phillip Yip

Phillip Yip is the Oakland-based engineer, designer and photographer behind Antietam Designs – laser cut jewelry modeled after Oakland city trees and other local inspirations.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay, you’re probably already familiar with Phillip’s designs. His iconic Oakland Tree bamboo earrings were recently spotted on Oakland mayor-elect Libby Schaaf in November’s campaign trail.

As far back as he can remember, Philip has always wanted to design and make things. In high school, he packed his schedule with as many art classes as he could. After studying mechanical engineering in college, Philip moved out to the SF Bay Area where he was inspired to make his own designs after attending an art & fashion show at the Galleria in San Francisco.

Phillip was drawn to Ponoko partially because he wanted to use natural materials, and keep manufacturing as local as possible. “It’s easier for me from a logistics standpoint” he says “it supports our local economy, and being able to talk to Ponoko staff in person helps me design better and more efficiently.”

Philip’s pride in his city is apparent in his work. His jewelry line draws on inspiration like the famous Oakland cranes, and some of the beautiful latte art created by local baristas.

“I live in Oakland, California, and like many residents here, I’m proud to call Oakland home. I want to create pieces that reflect that and celebrate our city. I also enjoy good coffee and was inspired to make pieces based on some of the beautiful latte art that baristas here create.”

I asked Philip what he loved about Ponoko, and he cited how easy it is to use Ponoko’s service. “Ponoko has a wide material selection and already has the laser settings dialed in for each material,” he says “so there’s no need to experiment with the laser cutter itself. I like that I can upload files easily and get an instant quote. I haven’t found anyone else who offers such a seamless experience.”

Phillip offers up the following advice to other designers/sellers:

“I think it’s worth the effort to experiment a lot and try a bunch of prototypes. If you are trying to sell in stores, I also recommend getting in touch with local retailers, as the ones I have dealt with have been extremely supportive.”

In addition to Antietam Designs, Philip’s designs are available at his ETSY shop, or you can get them in person at Oaklandish.

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

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Buy One, Get One Free — Buy a Ponoko Gift Voucher, Get a FREE Making Coupon

Go Get it From Now Until Tuesday December 23rd !

Who’s that coming down the chimney? It’s Voucher Claus again! And he’s got a mittenful of glowing BOGO Ponoko vouchers.

If you know someone who makes stuff, then you know someone who would love a Ponoko voucher. And the best part of giving this gift is that you get a little something for yourself.

Vouchers are emailed as PDFs so you can print them off for stocking stuffers or keep it virtual.

Buy a Gift Voucher by 11:59 pm Tuesday December 23rd and get a FREE Making Coupon!

• Buy $1,000 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $500 Making Coupon.
• Buy $500 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $225 Making Coupon.
• Buy $250 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $110 Making Coupon.
• Buy a $100 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $40 Making Coupon.
• Buy a $50 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $20 Making Coupon.
• Buy a $25 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $10 Making Coupon.

What’s the difference you ask?
A *Gift Voucher* is good for any part of a make-it-yourself order: making, materials and shipping. A *Making Coupon* is good for the making costs only (i.e. the actual laser cutting).

Both these Gift Vouchers and Making Coupons can be used with both Ponoko Free and Prime accounts!


Please see our Gift Voucher Guidelines and our Making Coupon Guidelines for all the important fine print.

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Tuesday is the Final Deadline to Order Laser Cutting in Time for the Holidays

Final Deadline for Holiday Orders is December 9!

Did you miss our early order deadline?

You’ve still got time place rush orders for the holidays!

Place orders before midnight on December 9th to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.

Please note: The early deadline for Holiday Orders has past – You will likely need to pay for an upgrade to faster making and/or shipping speeds to expedite your order.

If you’ve got any questions about the timeframe of your order, just get in touch : )

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Tuesday is the Early Deadline to Order Laser Cutting in Time for the Holidays

Early Deadline for Holiday Orders is November 25!


Need some laser cutting done and in your hands before the holidays?

Order by Tuesday to ensure in-time delivery without having to upgrade to faster making or shipping.

The final deadline for holiday orders is December 9th.

If you’ve got any questions about the timeframe of your order, just get in touch : )

Note: The holiday order deadline for 3D printing has passed.

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Laser Cut Robots Remind You to Water Your Plants

Your Geranium is texting you – thanks to Plant Friends

Some of us are blessed with a natural talent for caring for our houseplants. Others, however, struggle with merely keeping our houseplants alive.

For those of us born without a green thumb, Plant Friends are here to help save the lives of innocent plants everywhere.

Plant Friends is a moisture sensor system that monitors the air temperature, humidity, & soil moisture of of your indoor plants that will alert you via email or text message when your plants are thirsty.

(more…)

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Sweet dreams thanks to Sleep Sensei

Ponoko laser cut Kickstarter trains you to fall asleep. Eyes closed, now breathe…

Chasing those Z’s is about to get a whole lot easier thanks to this nifty innovation from Jeremy Wilson on Kickstarter. The Sleep Sensei sits on your nightstand and gently guides you towards a deep, restful sleep.

How does it do this? To some insomniacs, such an achievement may sound like pure magic, but there is some serious science behind the device. Jeremy’s own insomnia saw him trial numerous sleep aids before he set out to use his Arduino skills to sort out their collective shortcomings.

The functional laser cut prototype pictured above is at the core of this Kickstarter campaign, with the final design yet to be revealed. The key technology has all been sorted out already, as can be attested by an overwhelmingly positive outcome from product trials on real sleep-challenged volunteers.

“The Sleep Sensei primarily helps those with sleeping problems caused by stress or an overactive mind at bedtime.”

If you are one of those creative over-achievers who just can’t stop their mind racing at the end of the day (we probably all know at least a few people who fall into that category!) then head over to Kickstarter to discover more about The Sleep Sensei.

via Kickstarter

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7 Important Dates for Online Sellers

For folks selling online, Christmas is without a doubt the busiest time of year.

Online shoppers shelled out over $46.5 billion in the 2013 holiday season.

While a big chunk of sales went to powerful online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart, last year shopping carts such as Shopify and Big Commerce commanded the highest dollar value per individual order.

If you’re making and selling online, get ready for this year’s influx of holiday orders by planing around the following important holiday milestones:

Feel free to embed this infographic on your site or blog using the code below:

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Laser-Cut Halloween Costume

How one dad used Ponoko to make his kid’s dreams take flight

Halloween is approaching once again, and that means creative parents are busy putting together costumes for their eager little Trick or Treaters.

Taking note of his son’s ‘outsized interest in aviation’, SketchUp guru Aidan Chopra set himself the task of building an aeroplane at just the right scale for the diminutive 2½ year old pilot. The outcome – a laser cut cardboard aeroplane costume – looks fantastic, with cartoon-like proportions that give a real sense of comic aviation nostalgia.

Aidan has put together a thorough walkthrough of his design process, including references and explanatory diagrams that take you through each stage of the project in comprehensive detail. We’ve included a few snippets from the original SketchUp post here, but do be sure to click through to the source for all of the juicy insights.

He began by referencing an enthusiast’s model of a WWII era fighter plane, and squished the proportions until it looked both fun and wearable. Having decided on laser cut cardboard for the final construction, Aidan then explored using Ponoko to produce the components… and that was where things really became interesting.

By taking time to plan out which materials to use, what sheet sizes and the relevant Ponoko requirements, he could then proceed with modeling the plane so that both construction and laser cutting costs were optimised.

The plane is constructed from 58 laser cut parts, of which 32 are unique. It took a little patience to work out how to best fit these onto the Ponoko P3 laser cutting template for double-layered corrugated cardboard, but the effort quite literally paid off by reducing cutting time.

“I’d discovered that it’s significantly cheaper to produce two copies of the same cutting file than it is to make two different sheets. Good thing, because it turns out that most of my airplane parts are symmetrical; they’re mirrored copies that exist in pairs.”

A lot of thought went in to each stage of the design process; from considering the scale and proportions appropriate for a child pilot, the material thickness and template sizes in the Ponoko Personal Factory, through to the inclusion of nodes on the slotted sections so that all the components fit together and hold in place securely.

The accuracy of the cutting was astounding. I’ve never laser cut anything; I expected the pieces to look good, but the quality of what I got made me alternate between grinning and literally giggling. For a person who spent hundreds of hours in architecture school hacking away at cardboard, foam core, basswood and plexiglass with an X-Acto knife, the extravagant expense of laser cutting instantly justified itself. I was hooked.

What a fantastic success story for a first-time Ponoko user. Why did he start off with a project as complex as this? It all may make a little more sense when you consider Aidan’s background. Having moved on from architecture, he became a master of the modeling program SketchUp. That’s no idle boast – some users may find him familiar as the author of the SketchUp for Dummies book series. Aidan’s guest post on SparkFun is both informative and entertaining, so click through if you’d like to hear the full story.

via SparkFun and SketchUp

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Metal etching project hits 300% of Kickstarter goal

POLIGON Sculpture Shows What’s Possible With Ponoko’s Metal Etching Service

Unfolding into the mailboxes of many backers, the latest runaway success from Kickstarter features these elegant and refined sculptures by Poligon.

At the time of writing, pledges for the faceted brass and stainless steel creatures are about to eclipse 300% beyond the modest Kickstarter funding goal. Produced using a metal cutting and engraving process called PCM (Photochemical Machining), the clean lines and precise folds of these user-assembled sculptures have a striking visual presence and it’s easy to see why everybody wants one!

“We fell in love with the process because it doesn’t require hugely expensive tooling but gives highly accurate results with beautiful metals. It really has freed our creative thinking and these sculptures are just the beginning!” – Poligon

While we talk a lot about laser cutting and 3D printing here at Ponoko, metal cutting and engraving via Photochemical Machining is perhaps the quiet achiever. Taking less of the everyday focus, but (as we can see with the sculptures from Poligon) PCM certainly makes quite an impact from time to time. The Ponoko service is often used for intricate jewellery, and you can learn more about how Photochemical Machining works in our comprehensive overview.

Rodrigo and Matthew from Poligon had their own extensive experience in modelling and production to draw on, and the success of their Kickstarter campaign is well deserved. If you are inspired by this to give PCM a go yourself, then Ponoko has all your needs covered from laser cut card prototypes through to finely etched products in brass, copper and stainless steel.

Other Kickstarter projects that have used Ponoko’s services and exceeded expectations include the wildly successful Game Frame (1,031% over goal), the LittleRP affordable resin 3D printer (475% over goal), and the musical wonder that is Motion Synth (108% over goal).

Support Poligon on Kickstarter
Make your own PCM products with Ponoko

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