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.
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.
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.”
“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.
Mine Kafon: a low cost, wind powered mine detonator
Of all the maker projects I saw in 2012, Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon stands out in my mind as the most valuable contribution to global society. Hassani grew up in Qasaba, Kabul in Afghanistan, he is now an industrial designer living in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In his studies at university, Hassani recognised that the current means of land mine removal hasn’t had a lot of development in the last 60 years, it is still a labourous, dangerous, slow and expensive operation. Mine Kafon is designed as a low cost solution to the problem of old, but still active, land mines. It is a land mine detonator inspired in part by childhood toys that Hassani and his friends crafted from cheap materials. (more…)
Ever wondered what it’s like to get a shipment from Ponoko? The video shows Garland West, an artist/crafter outside of Charlotte NC, unboxing her recent lasercut order featuring a variety of materials and sheet sizes.
You can see her peeling the protective paper and popping out her designs including bamboo business cards, acrylic jewelry, and a big red octopus.
Drew Tetz is a professional yo-yoer who travels the country competing as part of the official Duncan Crew. When it’s not yo-yo time, he works as a graphic designer in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Drew has combined his design skills and yo-yo know-how to create a flatpack yo-yo with Ponoko. His design was a runner-up in the recent EvD lasercut toy design competition, and you can see him assemble and demo the yo-yo in the video below.
Lu Davidson is the project coordinator behind the Inspiring Stories Trust of New Zealand, a charitable organization dedicated to telling the stories of New Zealanders who are taking action and leading change.
“Its been 9 months since we launched the Inspiring Stories National Film Competition, themed ‘Young Kiwis Making A Difference’.” Lu tells me. “This competition motivated young aspiring filmmakers to tell stories of incredible people doing awesome things in their communities and all over Aotearoa. I want to make the awards ceremony extra memorable for our young filmmaking winners.”
So Lu approached us about creating unique award trophies for each of the winners. “Josh at Ponoko suggested keeping it simple, using lasercutting with a single material. He also emphasized the importance of making a prototype.”