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

Just Released In The USA Materials Catalog

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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.

3 New Materials To Inspire New Projects: Peel & Stick Veneers

Sticker Products

Need something new to inspire your next laser cut wood project? Can’t find the right material that offers flexibility and versatility? Check out our latest additions to our material selection. The wood design on these peel & stick veneers offer incredible detail.

The premium grade real wood veneer has a pressure sensitive adhesive backing. The veneer is quite flexible along the grain and can be applied to curved surfaces. They’re great for jewelry projects, to stick on to acrylics or to create amazing 3D stickers. Your imagination is the only limit to you how you can use the walnut, bamboo amber and bamboo blonde peel & stick veneers for your next laser cut wood project.

Click on the images below to get all the details on our new premium peel & stick veneers.

Peel & Stick Veneer – Walnut

Walnut has rich, chocolate hues, auburn undertones, and beautiful grain patterns that make it appealing as material for projects that need stronger color contrast.

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Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Amber

Bamboo has a beautiful fine grain which may have some visible joints on the surface to break up the grain — giving it a unique appearance. The Amber version has a  golden brown color, a great choice for neutral-looking jewelry projects.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo amber

Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Blonde

The natural occurence of joints on this other new bamboo is also a welcome break from the fine grain. It has a golden color that is a few shades lighter than the Amber version.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo blonde

 

 

We’d love to know your ideas for things you can make with these new materials. Comment them below.

Get Creative with 3 New Two-Color Acrylics

Have you seen our latest two-color acrylics in modern tones? We hope these spark your creativity and inspire you for your next laser-cut project. Our new acrylics are 0.8 – 2.1mm thick. With a thin layer of a different colored plastic on top. Engraving reveals the second acrylic color underneath. This results in a dramatic effect perfect for making jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays and more.

We have three new two-color acrylics available:

White on Black

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Brushed Silver on Black 

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Black on White

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What we love about the two-color  acrylic is how it changes the overall look of the finished product. Here’s a great example of brushed silver on black:

Promo products

 

How To: Get The Best Results out of Laser Cut Cardstock

Useful tips to ensure optimum cut quality from this versatile material

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Cardstock is such a handy material for laser cutting. The versatile combination of lightweight tensile strength, fast cutting/etching and low unit cost means cardstock is a wonderful choice for greeting cards, business cards, model making and packaging. A number of popular cardstock options are available from both NZ and US Ponoko making hubs.

Cardstock cuts slightly differently from other materials in the Ponoko catalogues, so there are a few useful things to know to get the optimum cut quality for your project. Some of these tips are mentioned in the Ponoko material pages, such as designing around small light pieces that can shift during cutting. We always strongly advise that you carefully read material information to get a clearer idea of what results to expect. Material samples are another handy reference, although we stress that every project is different, and prototyping is the only way to ensure the best outcome.    (more…)

Top Ten Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs – Tip #10

High making costs? Try Ponoko Prime

Laser cutting with Ponoko is a great way to have small items like coasters or jewellery cut and shipped to you for little more than the price of a hearty meal. But what happens if your appetite for laser cutting means designs that are bigger than bite-sized? Ponoko has a solution for this, and we call it Ponoko Prime.

Existing as a monthly subscription, Ponoko Prime members enjoy a range of benefits including lower making costs, volume discounts and free shipping for orders over $100. There are other perks to being a Prime subscriber, just check out the FAQs to see if you can save money by using Ponoko Prime.

  • With a Prime account: EVERY Prime order costs 32.5% less to make than Free account orders.
  • Making in Large Volumes: EVERY Prime order over $1,000 cost up to 51% less to make than Free account orders.

Consider your requirements and time your upgrade to Ponoko Prime. There are some serious savings to be made.

With these Top Ten Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs, the key considerations of making, materials and shipping have been optimised to give you the best possible outcome. So keep this list handy and follow the advice; ask us questions if you get stuck on anything… and we look forward to seeing what you will make next.

Do you think we covered all of the important tips when it comes to reducing laser cutting costs? Let us know in the comments below if you think there is anything we missed…

Top 10 Ways To Reduce Laser Cutting Costs:

1. Digital Prototyping

2. Paper Prototypes from your home printer

3. Make a cardboard version first

4. Start small

5. Keep Details Simple

6. Avoid Double Lines

7. Group Parts Together

8. Line vs Area Engraving

9. Material Thickness

10. High making costs? Try Ponoko Prime

Top Ten Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs – Tip #9

Material Thickness

How flexible are you on material choice for your design? To cut out a shape, the laser is burning through the material. Different materials burn at different rates, and also the thinner a material is, the faster it will cut. For example, 4mm cardboard cuts very quickly, and 9mm acrylic cuts very slowly.

Choosing the right material can reduce laser cutting costs considerably. If your design allows for it, create prototypes in paper (Tip #2) or cardboard (Tip #3) before moving on to thicker or harder materials. You can then have greater confidence in a successful outcome once you move up to the premium materials for your final design.

Have you had experience where changing the material thickness helped reduce laser cutting costs? Let us know in the comments below.

For more complex designs or projects that have a larger vision behind them, it’s time for Tip #10: Ponoko Prime.

Top Ten Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs – Tip #8

Line vs Area Engraving

For creating surface details on your design, consider using Line Engraving. This method involves the laser following a defined shape, whereas Area Engraving (which can be much more time consuming) is similar to how an inkjet printer works, with the laser head passing across the sheet many times horizontally until the area has been completely filled. Both Area and Line Engraving have their merits, but it is almost always cheaper to use Line Engraving simply because less machine time is required.

There may be times where your design demands the use of Area Engraving. If this is the case, keeping the engraved parts as close together on the template as possible will help to reduce costs.

How have you saved on laser cutting costs by changing your approach to laser engraving? Let us know in the comments below.

Next up we discover whether size matters with Tip #9: Material thickness.

Top Ten Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs – Tip #3

Make a Cardboard Version First

It is an exciting moment when your design is ready to be laser cut, but it can really pay off to do a trial cut in cardboard first before moving ahead with more expensive materials.

Remember, with laser cutting you are paying for the time it takes for the machine to make your design… and cardboard cuts really quickly. This contributes to it being one of the most affordable materials, which means you can get a fast, inexpensive test run of your design. Once you are happy with the cardboard version, you can order your design in a more expensive material with greater confidence that it will come out the way you had hoped.

If your final outcome is to be made from cardboard… well, then kick back and relax because you’re already one step ahead!

Tell us about how trial cuts in cardboard have helped keep your laser cutting costs down in the comments below.

Next up in the Top 10 Ways to Reduce Laser Cutting Costs is a handy bit of advice that is easy to overlook. Tip #4: Start small

New! Streamlined Support for Photochemical Machining

Making with metal just got a whole lot easier.

We are thrilled to announce new streamlined support for Photochemical Machining. Previously, if you wanted to create something using Brass, Copper or Stainless Steel, you had to take an extra step to email us the extra details of your order.

Now you can upload PCM design files directly to your Personal Factory account. In addition, you can now upload and get a quote for metal parts along with Laser Cut & 3D Printed designs at the same time, all in one order.

How to make with Photochemical Machining (PCM):

  1. Prepare and save your vector design as a PDF using our Metal Machining Starter Kits.
  2. Upload your PDF to your Personal Factory account.
  3. Select your choice of metal materials and proceed to checkout as usual.

That’s it! You’re now on your way to receiving some awesome metal goodies in your mailbox. Please note: The design requirements for PCM are slightly different from laser cutting with other materials. You’ll want to be sure to read through our design guides before uploading your designs.

If you have any questions about Photochemical Machining don’t hesitate to get in touch.