Creating cloudscape sculptures from laser cut layers

Ponoko-made project by Helen Reynolds

“Clouds are such a beautiful expression of the way landscape systems function” says Helen Reynolds, an artist and instructor of landscape architecture in Wellington, New Zealand. Last year she began a series of work exploring cloud shape and formation, including a sculptural installation she created with the help of Ponoko’s laser cutting service.

“Changes in the landscape make changes in the cloudscape, and I love that connection,” Helen explains of her initial interest in the subject. “They’re the responses of water vapor in the contracting or expanding atmosphere and castles in the sky.”

After creating several drawings and hand-cut cloud sculptures, Helen decided to use laser cutting for a project proposal that had been accepted for exhibition at the Dowse Museum of Art.

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Dapper DIY — make your own bow ties!

Ponoko-made project by Jay Thomson

Jay Thomson wears a bow tie to work every day. “[People] get a kick out of seeing them, and they often will strike up a conversation with me about my tie. They’re always amazed when they find out I make many of the ties I wear,” Jay writes on his website Lavaguy.com

He wanted to wear a different tie every day, but between his day job of managing the gift store at The Barnes Foundation museum, painting beautiful abstractions, and designing fabric patterns, he was having a hard time finding the hours it took to make a single tie.

So Jay decided to find a way to streamline the bow tie making process. He designed 7 different tie shapes and used Ponoko’s laser cutting service to create acrylic templates (shown in action in the photo above).

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DIY fishing lures from 3D printed models and silicone molds

Ponoko-made project by Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor was the ‘T’ in T&C Lures, a small business started by two guys who loved to fish in the San Diego bay. His partner (the ‘C’ in T&C) was taking a CNC machining class and “just wanted the challenge” of creating his own lures. Their first product, the swimgrub shown below, made the rounds at fishing forums and quickly became very popular.

But after just a few months of starting the company, C moved on and Kevin was left to carry on design and production. He would either have to pay a lot of money to a product development agency or learn to do it himself. So he decided to dive in and learn.

After some initial research on CAD and rapid prototyping, he came across SketchUp 3D design software and Ponoko’s 3D printing service.

Rather than make CNC machined masters for molding the lures and bait, Kevin decided to try 3D printed models.
Below are images of his SketchUp designs as well as a model he produced with Rhino.

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Awesome laser cut Castle Under Attack features working catapult & trebuchet

Ponoko-made project by Andrea Garuti

Andrea Garuti’s engineering skills earned him the grand prize in the GrabCAD/SolidSmack laser cut toy design competition.

His castle-under-attack toy model — complete with draw bridges, trebuchet, catapult, battleram, and a basilica — blew away all the judges.

Andrea’s inspiration came from the medieval history surrounding his home near Modena, Italy. “It’s not a strict reproduction of a real castle. I wanted to include as many medieval elements as I could,” he says.

As part of the prize, Ponoko sponsored free laser cutting for the winner. Andrea’s epic design required thirty-two P3 (about 31″x15″) size sheets. Rather than ship an entire castle battle over from the US, we worked with our friends Vectorealism, a laser cutting service based in Milan, to have Andrea’s design made closer to home.

The picture below of Andrea’s son standing behind the castle walls demonstrates just how big this toy is!

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Cases and enclosures for the Raspberry Pi computer

Ponoko-made products from Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy of Nwazet

Nwazet develops and sells a range of unique electronic kits, parts, and components. Recently, the company has been focused on creating new products for the Raspberry Pi.

As it says in the Raspberry Pi FAQ, “The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.”

Nwazet founders Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy started experimenting with the Raspberry Pi late last year “and we just fell in love with it” Fabien tells me. “We felt that the educational goals of the foundation were very much aligned with our own, and we appreciated the sheer versatility of the product which sits in a sweet spot between bare-metal microcontrollers and full blown computers.”

For many of their Raspberry Pi products, they use Ponoko’s laser cutting service as a “quick, cost-effective means of creating custom project enclosures without investing in our own laser cutter.”

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Just in time for wedding season, bamboo cake toppers of animals in love <3

Ponoko-made products by Valerie Thai

It was love — of wood — that lead designer Valerie Thai to laser cutting.

“I have always loved working with wood as a medium. In the past I did a lot of woodburning (pyrography) as a hobby and craft,” she says.

When Valerie started seeing laser cut wood designs on various blogs, she decided to research the method a little more. She then came across Ponoko in the Etsy forums. “It was really exciting to know that there was a way I could work directly with a user-friendly laser cutting company,” she tells me.

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3D prints from the winners of the ZW3D + GrabCAD design challenge

Ponoko-made projects from Tan Tek Wee and Antonio Barber

Last winter Ponoko teamed up with 3D software program ZW3D and 3D model library GrabCAD to 3D print the winners of their Holiday Design Challenge.

There were over 85 entries from around the world, and we’ve checked in with the winners to share their experience and final 3D printed designs.

Tan Teck Wee of Singapore won first prize with his flying toy train.

“I’m always looking out for other CAD software,” says Tan, a professional software developer and 3D printing hobbyist.

As a hobbyist, he was excited to see the quality of the commercial print from Ponoko which was made with a combination of our white Superfine Plastic and green Durable Fine Plastic.

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Which comes first, the product or the business? For iluxo designer Mariko, it’s business from the start.

Ponoko-made products by Mariko Carandang

Most small creative companies start with a product — not a business plan. But Mariko Carandang of iluxo was all business right from the beginning.

“One day I decided that I wanted to start a company and start selling things on Etsy,” she says. “I wasn’t already making something that I wanted to sell. I asked myself ‘Now what should I make?”

As a web developer and designer in San Francisco, she had the software skills to jump into digital fabrication. Mariko did lots of product research ranging from materials to manufacturing methods to fashion trends. She finally decided to enter the competitive market of laser-cut jewelry, and the next big question was how to set her designs apart from the crowd.

“Laser-cutting is inherently flat, so I thought a good way to differentiate my first product was to make something 3D. That’s where the idea of creating a locket came from,” she says of her first design.

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With a need for speed, Chicago burlesque dancer makes her own feather fan

Ponoko-made project by Donna Touch

When burlesque dancer Donna Touch first tried using those big, flirtatious feathered fans, she knew she couldn’t work with them.

“I wanted to move them around with a lot of speed, something different from what most dancers were doing. But the fans were so heavy, slow and cumbersome, and really difficult to hold,” she explains. So Donna decided to maker her own.

“I did a Google search for ‘custom laser cut’ and found Ponoko,” she says. “I’m professionally trained in Adobe design programs, so I used Illustrator. But one great thing about Ponoko is that the skills needed to create files for laser-cutting are definitely learnable by non-designers.”

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Photo frame jewelry turns your Instagrams into accessories

Ponoko-made products by Monique Malcom

“I’ve taken up photography as a hobby, and I love Instagram but I haven’t printed a photo in years,” says Monique Malcom. It’s something lots of us in this digital photo age can relate to. But Monique thinks there are some photos that are “just too amazing to be locked in the digital dungeon.”

Being a fulltime creator and “Chief Everything Officer” of her own tshirt line Antisparkle, she saw a product design opportunity.

So she created Instasparkle — a line of lasercut photo frame jewelry — to encourage people to show off their beautiful pics. Her colorful necklaces, broaches, and rings can each hold a 1″x1″ photo print.

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