Pro yo-yoer creates & demos flatpack lasercut yo-yo

Ponoko-made project by Drew Tetz

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.

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Creating the award trophy for the Inspiring Stories national film competition

Ponoko-made project by Lu Davidson


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.

Her current project is organizing the 2012 film competition awards ceremony which is taking place in Wellington this Saturday, November 17 as part of the Festival of the Futureand creating trophies to present to the winners.

“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.”

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Create your own jewelry by mapping your favorite places with Meshu

Ponoko-made products from Meshu founders Rachel Binx and Sha Hwang

When Rachel first moved to San Francisco, she was looking for work and knew she wanted a job in data visualization. “I was using Twitter to find potential contacts,” Rachel says. “Sha was gracious enough to meet me for dinner, and the rest is history!”

The two of them hit it off, eventually moving in together in a sunny carriage house in the Mission. And yes, Rachel landed a great job at a design studio. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Last year, Rachel and Sha sat down in a tea house and started brainstorming ideas for a side project: something that could combine their skills in design and data visualization with their love of travel.

The result was Meshu — a web-based app that brings together data visualization and digital fabrication.

Meshu lets you design products like necklaces, earrings, and cufflinks based on the connecting lines of various places.

For example, you could create a design using your Foursquare checkins or the route you took on your epic road trip. And you could have that design turned into a pair of one-of-a-kind lasercut earrings or 3D printed cufflinks.

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Artist transforms flat lasercut designs into 3D installations with heat forming

Ponoko project by Jenny Balisle

Bay Area artist Jenny Balisle works in three distinct mediums: painting, pen and ink, and sculptural installation made from heated acrylic sheets.

As explained in her artist statement, her body of work is “conceptually linked by dichotomous relationships — simple and complex, beautiful and grotesque, micro and macro perspectives, and natural and manmade environments.”

Her acrylic sculptures embody this concept by turning completely flat pieces of acrylic, which she lasercuts with Ponoko, into much more complex three-dimensional sculptures.

To achieve this, Jenny uses a heat forming technique. “It’s a delicate process,” she says. “I have to take great care not to crack or warp the acrylic or yellow the white surface.”

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Scan this, DIY lasercut business cards with QR codes

James Stokebrand leads by example. Lots of examples.


Last year James Stokebrand, a computer engineer living in Chicagoland, discovered Ponoko and decided to create some lasercut business cards.

“I was laid off in April 2011,” James explains “but I prefer to stay busy so I got the idea to create business cards with a QR code to my LinkedIn profile.”

But the first try was far from perfect. The cards were too big, corners were too sharp, and the text alignment was off. (The blurring in the images is for James’ privacy, not the result of the lasercutter.)

The second cut fixed most of the problems with the first round, but the cards — made of 3mm black acrylic — were too thick.

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What you get when you fasten Gothic flanges to a flashlight — the Magmace.

Ponoko made project by Jim Rodda

Jim Rodda introduces his Magmace as “6.8 pounds of cold-rolled, Krylon-coated, All-American neo-medieval whoop-ass.”

The Wisconsin-based maker and full-time arcade video game designer started the project by 3D printing prototypes with his Replicator. Jim then decided to get a little more hardcore and create his mace with lasercut cold-rolled steel from Ponoko.

The metal flanges are attached to a 6D cell Maglite flashlight with a pair of hose clamps. I asked Jim where he got this idea.

“I used to live in a part of the country where power went out intermittently, so it made sense to have lots of flashlights velcroed to walls around the house. So now I have like 9 different flashlights,” he explains.

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Jewelry by Black Swan Design

Victoriana of the Long White Cloud

Black Swan Designs re-emerged after the Christchurch earthquake at Mel’s post-quake office (aka home). Fortunately, outsourcing fabrication (especially when the design files are in cloud) means that even a natural disaster can’t stop the Maker wheels from turning. The Black Swan aesthetic is strongly inspired by the Victorian era – a vintage and ornate style that lends itself to traditional jewelry making techniques. However, Mel found that even with her jeweler background, creating the desired aesthetic using conventional jewelry making methods would result in the finished product being priced out of the local market.

Mel decided to try laser cutting to fabricate the Black Swan Designs line of necklaces, earrings, brooches and rings. Most of the highly detailed jewelry is cut from bamboo and black acrylic, and there are plans to introduce paper and 3D printed ceramic into the range, as a shift towards more eco-friendly materials. Once the laser cut pieces arrive at her door, Mel farewells her manicure and diligently removes the backing paper from all the tiny parts. Afterwards the pieces are painstakingly glued together, and findings are attached.A few words from the designer after the jump:

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Laser Cutting for Costume Design

And cutting time and cost of making while at itWhen Aaron Davison discovered that the Ponoko NZ hub was only walking distance from him, he was too intrigued not to try out the service.  Since then he’s been using it for al sorts of projects and experiments.  So far, Aaron has produced laser cut 2-D and 3-D costume pieces, buttons and templates from various materials.  He’s experimented with acrylics, Styrene, Bamboo Ply, Eurolite Poplar, leather and card stock.

Aaron’s material selection is guided largely by his experience as a modelmaker – something he’s been doing for years.  Now the manual making techniques he’d learned over the years have been, in most part, taken over by the digital processes, resulting in more time spent on designing and refining ideas than making.  The manual component of the process is still there, but mostly in form of finishing, such as sanding, staining and assembly.  The general outcome? It takes less time, effort and money required to produce a more polished product.Years of hobbyist prop designing have resulted in a multitude of digital files waiting to turned into physical objects.  The main obstacle to this used to be lack of access to the right tools and enough funds to transform those ideas into real things.  Now Aaron is revisiting his old designs to prepare them for production with laser cutting, 3D printing and CNC routing.

Not everything is laser cut to be the final product.  In the case of the N7 Helmet from Mass Effect, the laser cut card stock parts formed an armature that was fiberglassed on the inside and used as a base for sculpting.Read more abour Aaron’s process after the jump:

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Minimising Timeframe from Idea to Product

“Form follows constrains” philosophy aids design processAlienology’s physical design output is pretty impressive.  As a designer your head space has to be perpetually filled with evolving concepts.  Time permitting, those imagined concepts become sketches or even make it to the CAD phase for rendering.  Resources permitting, a concept will result in a prototype.  However, the chances of the prototype ever becoming a product that makes it to the market are pretty negligible.

Alienology founder Igor Knezevic isn’t interested in showing half-baked concepts or even refined ideas.  Alienology portfolio consists only of products available for purchase – an outcome enabled by a commitment to minimise the time span between idea and the manufactured object. Igor has embraced on demand digital fabrication with every limb to rapidly move through a process that would have required much time and capital investment under the traditional manufacturing model.

The LA based design company embraced the Ponoko model from the onset and has used its laser cutting and 3D printing services to create numerous lighting elements, jewelry and tableware.  Igor already had experience with digifabbing technologies and had access to making facilities, but the option of an online service made it possible for him to focus on designing the products rather that concerning himself with how to make them physically.

Of course, design is never a straight forward process, and prototyping one of its integral features.  Many of Igor’s designs undergo repeated experimentation to achieve the functionality, fabrication efficiency and the desired aesthetic of the final product.  Igor has had pieces 3D printed in plastics and Stainless Steel, and for laser cut objects worked with tinted acrylics, felt and different wood materials, such as Veneer Core and Eurolite Poplar.  He makes a point of considering material quality as one of the starting points in a design, so little finishing is necessary to complete the products.  There are also some products that are designed to be spray-painted and lacquered.A few words from the designer after the jump:

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Glove Mobile Phone

So you can talk to the handBryan Cera describes himself as a designer, and artist and a maker, and his projects exemplify those directions with a mix of practical, conceptual and technical approaches.  Digital fabrication is an integral part of Bryan’s creative process, and he’s not new to combining laser cutting, CNC milling and 3D printing in his projects.

Majority of Bryan’s projects involve re-purposed electronics and custom built circuits.  The end result doesn’t have to have a practical application, as long as the experimentation process is fun.  Metals and plastics are Bryan’s favourite materials to work with, as they are accessible, easy to machine and add a sense of permanence to the work.  3D printing in metal is certainly on that list.

One such project is Glove One:

a wearable mobile communication device. It presents a futile and fragile technology with which to augment ourselves. A cell phone which, in order to use, one must sacrifice their hand.  It is both the literalization of Sherry Turkle’s notion of technology as a “phantom limb”, in how we augment ourselves through an ambivalent reliance on it, as well as a celebration of the freedom we seek in our devices. Emotional investment becomes physical, as the functionality of the device depends on the dysfunctionality of the wearer. While we enjoy the fantasies they offer, we rethink the technologies we construct and reflect on how they construct us.

Essentially, this is a prototype for a mobile phone glove with a futuristic armor aesthetic that evokes a fusion of Inspector Gadget and Daft Punk robot gloves.  The glove phone is designed around components from wrist-watch cell phone that wasn’t getting much use.  The structure of the glove was 3D printed from Super Fine Plastic to give the parts the best form definition.  Bryan wanted to give the glove a smooth, shiny finish, and that meant a lot of sanding and several coats of paint.More on Bryan’s process after the jump:

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