NEW material for 3D printing: white plaster

Our lowest priced 3D printing material ever!

Been looking for a way to test out your larger 3D designs without having it cost a fortune? We have just added White Plaster to our materials catalogue and your 3D product can be made for as low as $.69 a cubic centimeter!*

Because of this low price, white plaster is a great material to evaluate the aesthetics of your larger design before committing to a more expensive material.

See the material page for all the details and design specs.

*Designs 30cc or higher are $.69 a cc for Prime members and $.73 for free accounts. Pricing for this material is on a graduated pricing scale where the price for smaller parts reflect the true cost of printing these parts. For more information, see chart here.

NEW material: bendy plywood available in NZ

Flexible timber for your curvy projects.

We’re welcoming Bendy Plywood to the Ponoko NZ materials catalog with a big hug. And it can kind of hug us back.

That’s because Bendy Plywood can curve and undulate within a radius of 250mm+. It’s an interior grade plywood made of 3 veneer layers of Fuma wood. The total thickness is about 5mm, and price starts at $2.97US for a P1.

Bendy Ply is great for model making, cabinets and interior fittings, joinery, and partitions.


NEW 3D printing materials — Glazed Ceramic in 3 new colors!!

Aren’t they pretty?

We are super duper excited about expanding the color options of one of our most popular materials. Introducing…

3 NEW COLORS of our Glazed Ceramic for 3D printing

Now you can make bowls, cups, mugs, plates, figurines etc etc in beautiful Periwinkle, Peach, and Teal.

Like our Glazed Ceramic in White, each of these new colored ceramics come out of a ZCorp 3D printer, are food safe and thermal resistant, and start at just $0.20/cm2 (surface area) for Ponoko free accounts.

Check ’em out:
Glazed Ceramic in Periwinkle!


Styrene – May Material of the Month

The white knight of model makingStyrene, or as sometimes it likes to be formally addressed – High Impact Polystyrene Sheet (HIPS) is one of the most ubiquitous plastics around, even though it’s too humble for most of us to pay any notice to.  Like PETG, it’s commonly used in food packaging, where it’s thermoformed for specific applications.

When it comes to laser cutting, fabricating components for model making is where this material truly shines.  Prefab laser cut model kits are already available for the likes of railways, trucks, aeroplanes and buildings.  Styrene’s properties make it an excellent material choice for these applications.  While it doesn’t cut as precisely as acrylic, it is easily sanded or scored with a craft knife, which is perfect for leaving sprues (little “bridges” of material) to hold parts in place.  Partially laser cut parts can be easily snapped off the kit sheet and sanded back for a clean edge.  Styrene is not the only flexible plastic that can be laser cut.  There’s also PETG and polypropylene.  When it comes to model making, styrene has significant advantages over both of those.  It can be easily bonded to itself with solvents (no heat welding required), and it takes on various paint finishes so can be painted to resemble other materials such as metals or wood.  Styrene also thermoforms better than the other plastics, and thinner pieces can be formed to a mold with a hairdryer.

Styrene’s flexibility, ease of finishing and bonding have seen it used in prosthetics, jewellery and even a Vanilla Design coffee cup holder.  Some of the material’s limitations are its fragility in delicate pieces and its inability to hinge.  Any score line compromises the structure of the sheet, and applying force to that area will snap the material.  Of course, this can also be an advantage with laser cutting – using heavy vector engraving instead of cutting right through noticeably reduces kerf, while still allowing for the cut piece to be snapped out of the sheet.  This approach works with long straight lines and simple, open shapes, and prototyping is necessary for optimum results.

The white styrene can also be used in lighting design.  Its glossy finish makes it more reflective than propylene.  However, because it has a low melting point, only fluorescent and LED light sources can be used.  Featured designs (clockwise): Middle C by Sherman Warren, Lotus by David Knott, Warp by Alienology, Urchin by Fabripod, Tumbleweed by Del Jackson, Carbon by Cindy Hartnett.  Carbon is also this month’s FREE file for download.  Make your own Carbon light!

Styrene is available from Ponoko US and Ponoko NZ, and there are also US and NZ material samples to give you a better idea of cutting and engraving finish.

Veneer MDF – April Material of the Month

Stability of MDF with beauty of natural timber grainMDF is possibly one of my least favourite materials.  It has no soul, although it’s certainly very practical.  There is also something unsavory about the word “veneer”.  The connotation of falseness is ever present and is at odds with my like of material honesty.  But you cannot argue with practicalities of using a wood material that won’t warp or shrink or crack.  Besides, the veneer is a real timber – thinly peeled off a rotating tree trunk and laminated onto the MDF sub straight.   The different grains do look authentic and beautiful, and their surface can also be treated with various waxes and varnishes to both seal the surface and enhance the grain.  Check out the surface treatment options for the US and NZ wood materials.

The practical and aesthetic properties of veneer MDF make is an ideal material choice for display design and furniture.  Colin Francis uses Rimu to make engraved wineracks and similarly planar flat-pack Test Tubed vases.  The Hands shelf is by Studio Wun and is available in various finishes.

Wall art is another common application for this month’s material.  We’ve interviewed MODULA.R.T’s Donald Rattner in the past – MODULA.R.T have designed a whole customisable system of wall ornamentation using a combination of veneer MDF and colour acrylic or felt.  Otto Gunther’s approach to wall art is entirely different – combining digital fabrication with painstaking finishing by hand to produce one off pieces.

Veneer MDF engraves beautifully, and both raster and vector engraving can produce outstanding detail, like in Peppersprouts coasters cut from Cherry.  Blimp Cat Studio create custom cake toppers from Walnut veneer, and Kai Howells offers customised Rimu veneer trophies.

Even little objects like jewelry can be successfully cut from veneer MDF.  Australian designers Little Miso and Nevertheless are big fans of the American Cherry, and Bonnie Poplar uses also uses this material for her brooches, along with the Rimu.

On the topic of jewelry, this month’s free design files are for jewelry trees.  The small Swirl stand is designed for US veneers, while the large tree is designed for the NZ stock.  Of course, the base slots can be adjusted in thickness to accommodate materials from either hub.Ponoko US offers Cherry, Walnut, White Oak

Ponoko NZ offers Rimu, American Cherry, Maple, Tasmanian Ash, White Oak

Get your material samples of US: Cherry, Walnut, White Oak; NZ: Rimu, American Cherry, Maple, Tasmanian Ash, White Oak

Bamboo – March Material of the Month

Seriously, it’s not just flooring material. Bamboo, either in laminate form or as plywood has been a popular material choice in interior finishes since the 90’s.  The sustainable growing and harvesting reputation has aided bamboo’s popularity, and it’s now featured more and more in product design.

The wood products’ prominent grain and warm hues make it stand out from a myriad of other plywoods and timber laminates.  Bamboo also laser cuts beautifully and is one of the most popular material choices in Ponoko US and NZ.  Both hubs offer different thicknesses of bamboo in plywood and natural laminate form.

Get a whole lot of bamboo inspiration after the jump:


New photos of our 3D printing materials!

Rainbow Ceramic, Stainless Steel, and Gold Plate

We’ve updated some of our 3D printing material info pages with gorgeous (and useful) photos.

3D printed Stainless Steel

4 new photos including Shiny Gear, Empty Cube, and both positive and negative text examples.


Leather – February material of the month

Hell bent for leather

Unless you are of the vegan variety, you probably have quite a few things made of leather, mostly footwear and luggage.  Leather is a wonderfully versatile material, and I’ll always pick it over its plastic substitutes.  Working with leather requires skill, but is incredibly satisfying, provided you have the right tools.  In the last few years laser cutting has become more and more prolific as a tool for manipulating leather, and now features prominently in many everyday leather items.  We’ve featured some laser cut and laser engraved fashion previously, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Leather in fashion has seen its peaks and troths, and it’s definitely at its peak currently if the catwalks are the vogue yard stick.  Laser cutting is behind much of that popularity, and as always the fashion trend is driven by the hi-fashion avant-garde designers who push the concepts and boundaries of material use and perception.  Some of the notable ideas come from Visbol de Arce’s Anatomy collection, current king (or in this case, queen) of the fashion mountain Iris van Herpen’s Synesthesia, and a selection of rather unusual bags from James Platt.

More sweet leathery goodness under the cut:


4 new materials for laser-cutting for the NZ hub

new fabrics & plywoods

We’ve added four new materials to the NZ making hub!

First up is a new 3mm thickness of Hoop Pine Plywood. It’s an interior grade level plywood and produces very crisp laser engraving results. Good for furnishing and accessory designs like boxes, small furniture, shelves, displays etc. A P1 size is just $4.30. Get a sample for $3NZ.

Next we have 1.5mm thick Upholstery Leather in Driftwood. It’s vegetable tanned and finished with oils and waxes. The underside has a soft suede finish, great for use with bags, wallets, shoes, or decorative pillows. Prices start at a little under $14 for a P1 size piece. Get a sample for $3NZ.


Overview of all the awesome materials we added in 2011!

37 in 2011

Materials are the spice of life when it comes to making your own stuff. And this year we added THIRTY SEVEN new materials to the Ponoko making hubs (not including new material thicknesses)!

Before we jump into this, one of the best ways to see what materials you can use to make stuff is to check out the Ponoko sample store.
[ USA store here ] [ NZ store here ]

Not only do you get a survey of all the materials we offer, but you can purchase samples for pretty cheap. These samples will show you the quality of the materials as well as the performance of the making process (e.g. laser-cutting, cnc routing, 3D printing.)

So here’s a roundup of all the awesome materials we added in 2011.