NEW Materials: Three New Premium Veneers

Three new premium wood veneers for your premium products

EDIT: 7/15 – To celebrate the launch of these new premium materials, we’re throwing a design competition with over $2,500 worth of prizes up for grabs!

Left to right: 3.5mm Maple, Cherry & Walnut Veneer

We’ve expanded our material selection in the US with three new premium wood veneers.

These high quality veneers have a wood laminate on each side which is sanded smooth and finished with a clear coat. The premium appearance makes these materials ideal for jewelry, coasters, clocks, or other high end products.

Click on the images below or head over to the materials page to get all the details on our new premium woods.

Premium Veneer MDF – Cherry:

Premium Veneer MDF – Maple:

Premium Veneer MDF – Walnut:

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We’re Hiring! Community & Customer Success Manager

Ponoko is looking for a Community Manager to lead our growing community of product designers

You can’t imagine anything better than working with an innovative industry pioneer, leading an online community of 100,000+ product designers making and selling their custom products online.

You’re a natural communicator who delights customers all day long by delivering a highly empathetic, top quality and timely customer service experience.

You will answer questions regarding our services, help our customers successfully prepare their design files to make their product ideas real, and liaise with our production team to ensure on-time delivery of quality custom products.

This is a great opportunity for a recent communications or arts graduate, designer or maker to immerse into the world of custom product design and online digital making. And to be the ‘customer’s voice’ at our innovative and creative business, renown for over the top customer service.

Ponoko was the first to help designers make and sell their products online, enabling them to make a living from their creativity. We’re one of the world’s leading companies in the online digital making industry, and 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.

Key Duties
• Manage our community of designers and inspire creative opportunities.
• Answer inbound email (and some phone) questions relating to customer orders, design file preparation, materials and our service generally.
• Interact with our community through various channels – email, social media, in person at events.
• Inspire customers through timely and creative resolution of their enquiries.
• Coordinate order fulfillment and customer happiness with the production team.
• Delight customers with the unexpected, and put a smile on their faces.

Reporting
• Report to the Chief Executive.
• Manage the customer service team.

Key Qualifications
• 2-3 years in customer service / customer success / community management.
• Impeccable verbal and written communication skills.
• Thrives in situations where electronic communication is the primary medium.
• Happy, empathetic, calm and professional when assisting customers.
• Proactive. Detail oriented. Process driven. All three.
• Likes to lead and enjoys working independently.
• Effective at multi­tasking and prioritizing the daily rush of tasks.
• Vector design skills with Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape and Coreldraw.
• Current authorization to work in the United States on a full­time basis.

Other Qualifications We Love But Don’t Require

• Designing for digital fabrication.
• Experience with laser cutting.
• Managing others towards a goal.
• 3D modeling with Solidworks, 123D, Inventor, Blender, SketchUp, Rhino, Meshlab, and Netfabb.

Benefits
• Market salary.
• Unlimited paid time off.
• Run your own ship.
• Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.
• Stock options.

To Apply
Introduce yourself and send your resume and examples of your customer interaction work or writing to derek [at] ponoko [dot] com.

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Introducing Loyalty Pricing for Prime Members

Save up to 55%, just for sticking with Prime

As a way to say “thanks” to all our loyal Prime customers, we are offering a lower per-minute rate for laser cutting for every month you are a Prime customer.

Your lower per-minute rate starts the month you sign up for Prime:

Month 1: 32.5% off ($1.35/minute).
Month 2: 33.5% off ($1.33/minute).
Month 3: 34.5% off ($1.33/minute).
Month 4: 36% off ($1.28/minute).
Month 5: 37.5% off ($1.25/minute).
Month 6: 39.5% off ($1.21/minute).
Month 7: 41.5% off ($1.17/minute).
Month 8: 43.5% off ($1.13/minute).
Month 9: 46% off ($1.08/minute).
Month 10: 48.5% off ($1.03/minute).
Month 11: 51.5% off ($0.97/minute).
Months 12+: 55% off ($0.90/minute).

You will automatically receive your new loyalty rate each month you renew your Prime subscription. You will always receive the lowest price as between your loyalty rate and your volume rate.

How to get these lower rates:

  1. Join Prime.
  2. Place your order as normal.
  3. That’s it! Loyalty pricing will automatically be applied to your order every month.

Notes: Lower pricing applies to laser making costs (excluding metal laser and 3D printing), when ordering from Ponoko US and NZ. You’ll lose your entire loyalty status if you quit your Prime account.

If you have any questions about volume pricing don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Spend $50 or more at Ponoko, get a FREE $50 Making Voucher

An Independence Day deal for the independent designer

This summer we’re celebrating Independence Day by offering up an independent designer’s favorite deal:

Spend $50 or more at Ponoko, get a FREE $50 Making Voucher

To get your $50 making voucher:

1. Log in to your Ponoko account. If you don’t have one, sign up for free here.
2. Place a $50 minimum order at the Ponoko US or NZ hub.
3. Type ‘JULY4’ in the special shipping instructions, and we’ll email you your $50 Making Voucher.

Things you should know: Offer good for making stuff with laser cutting at Ponoko. Showroom or sample store purchases do not qualify. $50 minimum does not include shipping. Other coupon codes or vouchers cannot be used with this offer. Offer only good at Ponoko US and NZ. Offer totally valid for Ponoko Prime accounts! Offer ends at 8pm pacific time on July 4, 2014.

About the free Making Voucher: Promotional voucher redeemable until Sept 4th, 2014. Promotional making voucher is good for a future order, not the initial $50 order. One promotional voucher per account. (Making Vouchers are good on making costs only.)

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Making Cannons with Lasers

Fully Functional Black Powder Cannons from Mini Cannon Tech

Alexander Sarnowski is the product designer behind Mini Cannon Tech – fully functional mini-sized cannons that combine CNC metal machining with wood laser cutting.

For as long as he can remember, Alexander has been building everything from his own morse code machines to home made rocket motors. For his 16th birthday his father bought him a mid-sized lathe, and since then he’s been designing and cranking out parts every chance he gets.

The inspiration behind his miniature civil war cannons came when he manufactured a cannon for his grandfather’s birthday.

“I made him a fully functional miniature civil war mortar out of brass, and he was more excited than I’ve ever seen him about anything. I think that was the point where I realized that I might be on to something.”

Alexander started his research on the mini cannon market and quickly found that while there were plenty of functional cannons available, most of them weren’t nearly as realistic as the ones he had in mind. So he set out to create a scaled down civil-war era black powder cannon that was fully functional, small enough to fit on a desk, and made from historically accurate materials. 

Alexander knew his way around a lathe, so the barrels wouldn’t be a problem. The wood carriages however, would have been impossible to make by hand at the scale he wanted. That’s where Ponoko came in:

“My roommate had ordered laser cut parts from Ponoko for one of his robotics projects, so I asked him if Ponoko also cut wood. I had plenty of CAD experience, so discovering Ponoko was the last piece to the puzzle.”

Once he learned what was possible with Ponoko, designing the first prototype “only took me a few hours” he says, adding that “the time it took me to bolt it all together was only a few minutes, thanks to how accurately the laser cut parts were.” He cites the help he got early-on as one of the top reasons he likes Ponoko:

“I have made some orders where I didn’t compensate for the heat of the laser properly,” he says “so Ponoko sent me exactly what I had ordered AND a redesigned layout for my parts to insure that my parts came out correctly.”

Mini Cannon Tech is now the producer of some of the smallest, and most realistic shootable Civil War cannons online. And yes, these incredibly small cannons can really fire! Using the same process as a real cannon, real black powder is used to fire a small projectile over 100 feet. Check out the video below to see the cannons in action:

His first run of cannons quickly sold out to customers worldwide. I asked Alexander if he had any future products on the horizon.

“The great thing about model cannons is that there are literally thousands of different cannons that existed throughout history so we will never have a shortage of ideas and new products.” he says. “Right now in the works we’ve got models of Civil War mortars, the highly acclaimed Parrott rifle, and the champion of the Mexican War, the 1841 6-Pounder Smoothbore.”

What is Alexander’s advice for designers hoping to make “bang” with their product? “Only make something you are truly passionate about. If you do this, your products will inherently improve over time and your passion will show to people who are looking for a quality product. Don’t do it because you can, do it because you want to. ”

You can get your own realistic, miniature shootable cannon at Mini Cannon Tech.

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The Kyub MIDI keyboard hits Kickstarter

The Kyub offers a six-sided twist on the usual 2D keyboard

Meet the Kyub, a compact, fully programmable MIDI interface that provides a new way to compose, record and perform music.

The Kyub features 11 fully programmable feather-touch keypads that connect to any computer or synthesizer via USB. Inside, an accelerometer tracks the movement of the Kyub to control the volume of the notes played.

These features make the interface really responsive, however the truly amazing thing is the way the Kyub is played. Check out the Kickstarter video below to see the Kyub in action:

The Kyub is designed as a kit that can be assembled at home by just about anyone, using laser cut parts from Ponoko.

If you’re short on soldering skills, you can back the Kyub and get a fully assembled unit as a reward. The Kyub is made to be as open and maker-friendly as possible, any computer-based synthesizer can be used to work with the Kyub.

If all this has got you excited for some cubed-out synth action, head over to the Kyub Kickstarter page to support the project and help make the Kyub a reality.

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Awesome Laser Cut Robots That Fit in Your Pocket

Ponoko-made pocket sized robots by Junichi Tsuneoka.

Junichi Tsuneoka is the illustrator and designer behind CHIBIPOCKET – collectable laser cut robot toys that combine traditional woodworking techniques with digital laser fabrication.

Junichi has been a graphic designer since 2002, creating vibrant character-driven illustrations for his company Stubborn Sideburn. In 2012, he was inspired to jump into making three dimensional art when one of his clients hired him to design their vinyl toys:

“When I first got the sample I really liked the idea of my design becoming a 3D form. I had been doing only flat print projects till then so it was very refreshing for me. I wanted to do more 3D projects to expand my design possibilities.”

Junichi experimented with several production methods ranging from soft vinyl, plastic mold and 3D printing before landing on laser wood cutting. “It’s very close to how I usually design graphics and print digitally” he explains, “yet there is a bit of crafting quality.”

His first robot figurine was meant to be more of a personal project rather than a product line, but after showing it around it became clear there was a lot of interest in the idea. “I got a lot of good feedback plus I really enjoyed making it,” he says, “so I decided to expand the project.”

Junichi used his Personal Factory to instantly price lots of design iterations while expanding his new product line:

“It’s very handy that you can see the price right away when you upload the file” he said, “it gives me a chance to modify the file so I can control the price really easily.”

By digitally prototyping with in this way, Junichi was able to control costs early so he could stay competitive at the retail level later on.

CHIBIPOCKET was inspired by the types of toys Junichi grew up carrying around in his pocket. ‘Chibi’ is a Japanese term for ‘short person’ or ‘small child’. In popular culture, chibi has mostly referred to characters with oversized heads and small bodies – similar to babies – to emphasize cuteness and child-like spirit. “My original concept of the whole product line is about my childhood memory.” he says, “So I decided to do pocketable art/toys.”

When I asked what initially drew him to Ponoko, Junichi explained that speed is key:

“When I work with individual laser cut service, I had to spend quite a bit of time giving instructions for custom jobs and communicating back and forth.” he explains. “That would cause errors and a lot of extra time to spend. I don’t have to experience that with Ponoko.”

Each figurine combines several pieces of laser cut bamboo and fluorescent acrylic, which is then hand-sanded and finished with Sumi Ink to bring the characters to life.

What’s on the horizon for Junichi? CHIBIPOCKET was recently commissioned by totem resolve to make all the 10 Wu Tang Clan members into handmade bamboo toys:


Left to right: GZA, RZA, UGOD, Cappa Donna & Ghost Face

Junichi’s robots are available at CHIBIPOCKET.

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

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Ponoko Customer Turns Product Into $100,299 In Just 20 Days

Ponoko + Kickstarter = Designer’s Dream

We covered this briefly before, but it’s going bananas! So we thought it was a good idea to introduce how designers are using Ponoko and Kickstarter to make and sell their products.

Jeremy Williams is a San Francisco based engineer and video game enthusiast with a passion for pixel art. His latest project, the Game Frame, is a fully-programmable grid of LEDs designed to make it easy to display animated pixel art anywhere. Jeremy’s product on Kickstarter just passed $100,000, and is trending to hit over $150,000 before closing.

The Game Frame was initially just a fun personal project – Jeremy loves 8-bit pixel art and wanted to find a way to display it on his walls – but after his prototype was demonstrated for Tested in June, the positive feedback inspired him to see if he could turn the Game Frame into a real product.

Using laser cut parts from Ponoko, Jeremy went through several iterations to refine his design. After months of prototyping, and multiple prototypes, Jeremy arrived at a Game Frame that was sleeker looking, cheaper to build, and easier to use.

With a new Game Frame in hand Jeremy set out to test the market viability of his new product.  There’s many ways to do this, like setting up a website, an ETSY store, or selling at a local event. But he decided to use Kickstarter to put his product directly in front of potential customers to gauge interest in the Game Frame, and to gain pre-orders to fund his first production run.

The enthusiasm was overwhelming. Within 4.5 hours the Game Frame had met it’s initial goal of $15,000. Within a week, he had over $50,000 in backing. As at press time, Jeremy has already sold 448 Game Frames = $107,123 and counting!

Now comes the fun part: Jeremy will spend the coming months fulfilling the orders for his Kickstarter backers, wiring the PCBs, soldering LEDs, & assembling laser cut frames using his Personal Factory at Ponoko. The first orders are scheduled to ship in June.

Jeremy’s story is an inspiring example of how you can take a cool idea, make it real at low cost with Ponoko, and discover a whole market you never knew you had.

We’ll be following this and letting you know more about how to use Ponoko and Kickstarter as the story unfolds.

If you’re interested in starting your own product line too, you can signup for free here to make and sell your own products.

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Lower Pricing for Laser Cutting

We are thrilled to announce new volume pricing for Prime members!

Prime members can now save 55% off their making costs

If your goal is to set competitive retail pricing & make a healthy profit, taking advantage of volume pricing is key. And even if you’re just making a handful of hobby projects, the savings can really add up.

Check out the chart below for a breakdown of the new rates:

$1 – $499: 32.5% off ($1.35 per minute) by joining Prime*.
$500 – $999: 35% off ($1.30 per minute).
$1,000 – $1,999: 39% off ($1.22 per minute).
$2,000 – $2,999: 43% off ($1.14 per minute).
$3,000 – $4,999: 47% off ($1.06 per minute).
$5,000 – $9,999: 51% off ($0.98 per minute).
$10,000+: 55% off ($0.90 per minute)

* vs free account pricing.

How to get these lower rates:

  1. Join Prime.
  2. Place your order as normal.
  3. That’s it! Volume pricing will automatically be applied to your order.

Lower pricing applies to laser making costs (excluding metal laser and 3D printing), when ordering from Ponoko US and NZ.

If you have any questions about volume pricing don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Free Shipping on Orders Over $100

Last year, we set out to learn more about our customers to find out what we needed do to make Ponoko even better. Across the board, lower shipping was high on everyone’s list.

So we went to work – We experimented with different combinations of pricing and shipping to find out what works best for everyone.

Over the course of 7 months, and 5 back-to-back tests we found that a rate of $2.00/minute with free shipping over $100 was by far the most popular.

Starting today: pay no shipping on any laser cutting order over $100, from the US to anywhere in the continental US, and from New Zealand to anywhere in New Zealand and Australia.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks we’ll have more news on how you can save even more on shipping!

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