A $154k Kickstarter Retrospective: What You Can Learn From the Game Frame’s Success

Anatomy of a successful Kickstarter

Jeremy Williams is the San Francisco based engineer / hacker / programmer / maker / video game enthusiast behind the Game Frame, a fully-programmable grid of LEDs designed to make it easy to display animated pixel art and old-school video game graphics.

Earlier this year Jeremy raised over $154,000 on Kickstarter for the Game Frame – an amazing sum considering the project’s original $15,000 goal.

7 months later – With the last of the Kickstarter rewards fulfilled, we sat down with Jeremy to get some insight into what led to his amazingly successful campaign.

Here’s a look at what has happened before and after the campaign was funded, along with some important lessons—both good and bad—that crowdfunding hopefuls can learn from Jeremy’s success story.

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10 Custom Holiday Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands

Along with the eggnog and scores of holiday-party invitations comes yet another seasonal tradition: Agencies and brands showing off their technical and creative chops with unique holiday promotions and client gifts.

One sure fire way to ensure this year’s holiday campaign stands out (amongst the scores of digital and traditional holiday cards) is to create something unique with your Personal Factory.

We’ve compiled 10 laser cut ideas that caught our eye and thought we’d “share” in the holiday cheer with some inspiration for your upcoming holiday campaigns.

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We’re Hiring a Maker / Designer / Hacker to Help Our Customers Succeed

Full Printed from nueveojos on Vimeo.

We have a part time Customer Success Manager role (developing into a full time role) for a maker / designer / hacker to support our customers to make their custom products online. And to help us change the world.

ABOUT YOU

* You believe what we believe – that consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like ‘digital Ikea’).

* You value what we value.

* You have a deep desire to help others make their own custom products. This will make it easy for you to smile, persevere and shine through the ups and downs our customer’s experience on their personal creative journeys, and the ups and downs we experience on ours.

* You are:

- A designer / maker / hacker. With the empathy and communication skills of a teacher.

- An expert in these design software apps, plus Meshlab and Netfabb.

- Experienced with laser cutters and 3D printers (both desktop and pro), with a practical understanding of the properties of these materials.

- A natural at online communication, familiar with Zendesk, Twitter and Facebook to reactively support customers online.

- Someone who works harmoniously with your team members to delight customers.

- Cool under extreme pressure, and radiate this with customers and your team members.

- A happy soul, empathetic, with an ‘excited’ online voice.

- Proactive. Detailed. Process driven. All three.

- Someone who likes to lead, and you enjoy working independently.

- Effective at multi ­tasking and prioritizing the daily rush of tasks that come in a startup.

- Someone who understands you get out of life what you put into it. And to change the world this means stepping forward and grabbing at responsibility.

ABOUT THE ROLE

You’ll be our voice to the world. You’ll be our customer’s voice to our team. You’ll support our customers to make their custom products online.

Your typical day includes:

* Achieving 2 key goals – quality and speed of service. Both measured and reported weekly.

* Responding to inbound chat, email and social media questions relating to customer orders, product design file preparation, materials selection, pricing and our service generally.

* Liaising with our production team to ensure on-time delivery of quality custom products.

* Delighting our customers with the unexpected, and putting a smile on their faces, particularly when all seemed lost.

* Attending 2 weekly meetings – one full team discussion about company and individual results, plus one support and production teams discussion about customer experience.

* Identifying problems with and improving our workflows to delight customers.

* As a bonus, creating or editing online help content for customers to help themselves.

BENEFITS

* Freedom and independence to run your own ship.
* Feeling that your work day means something and makes a difference.
* Market salary.
* Unlimited paid time off.
* Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.

ABOUT US

Dreamed up in 2006, Ponoko believes consumers of the future will download and make products at home (kinda like ‘digital Ikea’).

We foresaw the third industrial revolution (distributed digital mass production) growing out of the first and second industrial revolutions (centralised analog mass production).

Hence in 2007 Ponoko launched at the first TechCrunch conference and became the world’s first to enable designers to both make and sell their products online.

Since then a community of 125,000 makers, designers, hackers, brands and businesses have made over 400,000 custom products online. And they’ve sold them via our website, their websites, ETSY, Kickstarter, design events, and to main street retailers.

With free digital prototyping to get a design just right, no minimum order size to get started, and on-demand production available within 1 day to eliminate investment in stock, we’ve make it 10x faster than ever before for designers to prototype, make and sell their custom product ideas online.

Recognised as a pioneering leader of the online digital making industry, we have been featured in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN Money, Inc. Magazine (cover), Forbes, Wired, Core77, TechCrunch, Makezine, MIT Technology Review, BBC News and The Economist.

Your appointment will enable us to continue to support our existing customers, and to hatch a new 3D printing initiative to transform our industry again.

TO APPLY

Send an email to derek-at-ponoko-dot-com to introduce yourself, send your resume, and your answers to these 3 questions:

1) Why do you want this role?
2) What gaps might exist between what we need and what you have?
3) Why are you the best person for this role?

We’re looking forward to meeting you :)

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How to get the best results out of laser cut cardstock

Useful tips to get the optimum cut quality from this versatile material

Both NZ and US hubs now offer several cardstock options.  This material is a wonderful choice for greeting cards, business cards, model making and packaging.

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 are mentioned in the 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.

Something to keep in mind is that many of the mass-produced, intricately cut card products on the market are not laser cut but stamped out with a die – like a cookie cutter.  A laser cuts by burning, so some discoloration can be expected around cut marks.  This is an inherent part of the laser cutting process and can be seen in the catalogue material photos.   (more…)

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Optimize your Laser-cutting design file for lower costs

How to get the most out of your Ponoko order

When you make something with Ponoko, there are 3 key costs to consider: making, materials, and shipping.

Making cost is all about labor — mostly machine labor and a little bit of human labor. Think of your design file as a work order, a set of instructions for the machine to follow. The simpler and more efficient your instructions are, the less time it takes the machine to follow them. And that means less making costs.

Here are a few tips and tricks direct from the Ponoko team that you can use to optimize your design file and help get you the lowest cost possible for your laser cut project.

The key thing to remember with laser-cutting is that you’re paying for the *time* your design spends on the laser cutter.

“If it’s your first time making something, start small with a P1 size material sheet. The smaller dimension will help constrain the amount of making time, and your material cost will be lower.” ~ Yana

“When it comes to laser-cutting, the more complex and detailed your design is the more expensive it will be to make. So when you can, and especially for beginners, I suggest starting with simple designs that aren’t too intricate.” ~ Christina

“Print out your design on paper first. You could consider this a free and instant first prototype. It’s the ideal way to spot sizing errors, see whether you’ve made holes big enough, and get a feel for what your final result will look like.” ~ Josh J.

“For any new design, I often recommend making a cardboard version first. Cardboard is one of our most affordable materials, and the laser can cut it really quickly; so you can get an inexpensive test run of your design. Then when you’re happy with the cardboard version, you can order your design in the material you want and feel more assured that it will come out the way you want.” ~ Josh R.

“One thing to remember is that the laser cuts the material by burning it. So thinner materials will cut faster than thicker materials. The laser is also faster at cutting straight lines than curves.” ~ Catherine

“Try to make all the pieces of your design fit together like a puzzle instead of scattered around the template. See if there are any pieces that could actually share a cutting line*. And put the rest of the pieces close together, but be sure to leave enough space for the kerf (how much material the laser burns away).” ~ Dan

*If pieces in your design share a cutting line, you must remove any “double lines” created by the overlap. Check our design starter kit for more info.

“Raster Fill Engraving is a very time consuming process, similar to how a dot-matrix printer works. For creating details in your design, I usually recommend using Vector Engraving instead. If you do use Raster Fill Engraving, try to keep the engraved areas as close together on the template as possible.” ~ Josh J.

Now you’ve heard the tips from our in-house experts, here is a summary of how to keep your laser cutting costs down:

• Time = money
• For beginners, start with a small size material (P1) and a simple design.
• Print your design out on paper to spot any immediate problems with the design.
• Make a cardboard prototype. You won’t regret it.
• Keep in mind that different materials burn at different rates.
• Fit the pieces of your design close (but not too, too close) together.
• Consider whether Vector Engraving is a better option than Raster Fill Engraving

Originally posted on the Ponoko Support Forums

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10 Great Materials for Laser Cutting

Ponoko’s most popular materials for laser cutting with pricing info, pros and cons, and example project ideas

The Ponoko Materials Catalog offers a wide variety of high quality sheet materials for laser cutting. From those awesome new Premium materials down to plain old (but ever-so-useful) cardboard, there is a material option for every making scenario. Each material is thoroughly tested to ensure that it cuts cleanly, engraves nicely and just generally looks good. With all these great materials on offer, how do you know which one to choose?

Here is a snapshot of the top ten materials available for laser cutting in your Ponoko Personal Factory. Each material overview includes a price range for the Ponoko sheet sizes, the number of varieties to choose from, and also important information about pros, cons and suggested usage scenarios.

1. CARDBOARD

Pricing: 50 cents to $4.00
Varieties: 4 different types
Pros: Inexpensive, recyclable, easy to paint, easy to join (tape, glue, staples)
Cons: Low durability, not suited to raster engraving
Great for: early prototypes, package design, crafts, kids projects
Make something with cardboard!

2. ACRYLIC

Pricing: $2 to $86
Varieties: 30 different types + colors, up to 6 different thicknesses
Pros: High quality look and finish, high level of detail possible, engraves well, affordable
Cons: Can crack under stress, can scratch
Great for: jewelry, hardware/electronic enclosures, signage, ornaments, wall art, mobiles
Make something with acrylic!

3. BAMBOO

Pricing: $3.50 to $33
Varieties: 2 different types, 2 different thicknesses
Pros: High quality look and finish, affordable, renewable resource
Cons: Engraving results are inconsistent, large sheets are prone to warping
Great for: jewelry, coasters, clocks, ornaments, picture frames, boxes, wall art, mobiles
Make something with bamboo!

4. PLYWOOD

Pricing: $3.50 to $34
Varieties: 2 different thicknesses
Pros: Affordable, engraves well, easy to stain
Cons: Slightly rough unfinished surface
Great for: crafts, models, home decor, kids projects
Make something with plywood!

5. FELT

Pricing: $7 to $45
Varieties: 15 different colors, up to 2 thicknesses
Pros: 100% wool, high quality look and finish, renewable resource
Cons: Strong burn smell, dark burned edge color
Great for: jewelry, coasters, trivets, crafts, ornaments, lining
Make something with felt!

6. MIRROR ACRYLIC

Pricing: $6 to $58.50
Varieties: 3 different colors
Pros: Reflective, interesting effects possible, high quality look and finish, engraves well
Cons: Can crack under stress, can scratch, prone to warping
Great for: jewelry, signage, home decor, wall art, ornaments
Make something with mirror acrylic!

7. CORK

Pricing: $4.50 to $26
Varieties: 1 type
Pros: Flexible, renewable resource
Cons: Does not raster engrave well
Great for: cushioning/padding, coasters, crafts, kids projects, pin boards
Make something with cork!

8. WOOD VENEER MDF

Pricing: $3.50 to $26
Varieties: 3 different types
Pros: High quality look and finish, engraves well, solid/substantial feel
Cons: Inconsistent thickness between supply batches
Great for: clocks, magnets, puzzles, coasters, ornaments, jewelry, picture frames
Make something with wood veneer MDF!

9. LEATHER

Pricing: $13 to $104.50
Varieties: 5 different colors
Pros: High quality look and finish, flexible, soft suede on back side,
Cons: Expensive, low in-house inventory
Great for: bracelets, bags, wallets, book covers, glasses case, iphone/ipad cases, zipper pulls
Make something with leather!

10. MELAMINE MDF

Pricing: $2 to $11
Varieties: 1 type
Pros: High quality look and finish, wipable melamine surface on both sides
Cons: Only 1 thickness available
Great for: countertops, tabletops, placemats, shelving
Make something with melamine MDF!

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Top 10 Designers Announced in Premium Materials Design Challenge

Vote for your Favorites by Sept 1st!

In July, we challenged designers to showcase their skills by creating a product using one of our three new premium materials. At first, we weren’t sure what to expect; This was the first time we ran a contest where designers actually created something tangible to enter, as opposed to just submitting their design files.

Would we get any good entries? Would folks just take the free sheet of material and run? We didn’t know.

We were thrilled to find that although the amount of submissions were somewhat smaller, the quality of entries we recieved were through the roof. The creativity & quality of the submissions made selecting the finalists a challenge in itself.

You can use the hashtag #ponokonewmaterials on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram to see all of the amazing submissions.

Check out the finalists below, and use the survey at the bottom of the page to vote for your top three before Sept 1st.

If you are the designer behind one of the final entries you are encouraged to invite all your friends and family to vote for you. Keep in mind: Voting ends at 10pm PST on Sept 1st.

The Prizes:

  • Grand Prize – $600 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($1,068 value.)
  • 2nd Place – $450 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for one year ($918 value.)
  • 3rd Place – $300 worth of making with your Personal Factory + free Prime for 6 months ($434 value.)

The Finalists:

 

Cretaceous Critters Coasters by Rebecca Cey

Cigar Cutter by Dan Marino

Cubist Guitar Sculpture by Craig Hein Design

BoomBox Keychain by Junichi Tsuneoka

Geometric Lamp by Iluxo

Tangram by Jeremy Williams

Mini Sketchbook / Journal by Lcrookston

Lotus Brace by Marissa Noell

Cross-Stitched Earrings by Rebecca Cey

Stainglass Game by Bertrand Le Roy


A huge thank you to everyone who helped make our design challenge a success. We will announce the winners here on Sept. 2nd. Good luck!

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Ponoko Customer Blows Past Kickstarter Goal in One Day


Brad Hill is the creator behind LittleRP – A DLP projector-based resin printer that can be put together for as little as $499.

Brad set out to create a printer that was open, flexible and affordable. Rather than using proprietary resins, the LittleRP is designed to use as many different formulations of UV curing resins as possible. By focusing on smaller, higher quality prints, the LittleRP is able to provide high accuracy while keeping costs low.

The flexibility and low cost helps explain the explosive popularity of the LittleRP’s Kickstarter, which passed it’s funding goal of $25,000 is under 24 hours. As of this writing the LittleRP has raised over $98,000, just under 400% of it’s original goal!

The LittleRP’s sleek translucent enclosure is made from Ponoko’s Acrylic Orange Tint, and the housing is made from Melamine Finished MDF seen here:

The LittleRP works using a process known as 3D stereolithography, a 3D printing process that uses light-sensitive resin and a high intensity light source to build a 3D object, layer by layer, rather than using spools of plastic filament as on a majority of 3D printers currently on the market. You can check out the LittleRP in action on it’s Kickstarter Video:

Want to get your hands on your own LittleRP? Head over to Brad’s Kickstarter page to get one while you still can.

Inspired to make your own project? Signup to make and sell for free!

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Step-by-Step: Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3

Using Inkscape to design your own laser cut product from scratch

Welcome to the third instalment of Ponoko’s back-to basics tutorials. This time we get creative and generate a laser cut design from scratch that can be used with your Ponoko Personal Factory.

It all begins with key information from the Inkscape Starter Kit, a tremendously useful resource that sorts out everything you need to know about the free software package, Inkscape.

The tutorial walks through how to use Inkscape to draw a design using basic shape tools, the text tool, and Path commands. In the demonstration, Josh whips up a laser cut coaster and repeats the pattern before finalising the file to be ready for laser cutting.

In a little over ten minutes, you’ll be able to:

• Create a design from scratch with Inkscape
• Create and combine basic shapes
• Check your design in outline mode
• Format your design for laser cutting

Stay tuned for Ponoko’s Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 4 where we get to see the laser work its magic.

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Photochemical Machining Goes Bohemian

Digital fabrication meets ancient jewelry making techniques

Rachel Dropp is the one-woman operation behind Raw Elements Jewelry, a brand that combines modern Photochemical Machining (PCM) with traditional jewelry-making techniques. The results are unique hand-crafted pieces that feature a raw, unique style.

The pieces in the Raw Elements Jewelry line drawn inspirations everywhere from French needle point lace to the phases of the moon.

“While creating new collections I adhere to 3 aesthetic themes: rustic nature, bohemian and sacred geometry.”

The pieces are designed by Dropp, who then hammers, polishes, patinas and does the final soldering to arrive at her finished product. “I love incorporating all of the processes” Dropp says, “because it keeps things interesting and it allows me to have a great mix of products to offer to my customers.”

As someone who enjoys working on the creative side, Rachel initially found it difficult to jump into sales. “I’ve had to step outside my comfort zone” Dropp says “to call boutiques that I feel would be interested in selling my wares and to make appointments”.

Stepping out of her comfort zone has paid off for Dropp, who’s jewelry is now available online on her website and Etsy store as well as in boutiques everywhere from Sonoma County to the San Francisco Bay area

I asked Rachel what was on the horizon for Raw Elements Jewelry. “Coming up in August, I will be attending the Bodega Bay Seafood Art and Wine Festival and then in the beginning of September I will have a booth at Bhakti Fest in Southern California. I also plan to launch a new collection of mini sacred geometry charm necklaces.”

You can purchase Raw Elements Jewelry online at rawelementsjewelry.com or at any of the stores and boutiques listed on her site.

Inspired to design your own product line? Make it with Ponoko!

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