Top 10 Seller Stories of 2014

Inspiring stories of independent designers & sellers creating products with Ponoko.

2014 was an amazing year for us and our amazingly creative customers. Ponoko customers are not only making super cool original products, they’re solving design problems for underserved markets and building successful small businesses.

#10: Laser Cut Robots Remind You to Water Your Plants

Some of us are blessed with a natural talent for caring for our houseplants. Others, however, struggle with merely keeping our houseplants alive.
Read Dickson Chow’s story about saving the lives of innocent plants everywhere with the help of his laser cut robot friends.

#9: Photochemical Machining Goes Bohemian

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.

Read Rachel’s story on how she launched a line of bohemian inspired jewelry designs, and the unique process behind these pieces.

#8 The Kyub MIDI keyboard

The Kyub is a compact, fully programmable MIDI interface that provides a new way to compose, record and perform music. Although the Kyub Music group fell short of their original Kickstarter goal – they were able to garner enough support for the product to put the Kyub into production. Read the Kyub’s story and get a first hand look a the Kyub in action.


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Hiring a Maker / Designer to Make Custom Products For Our Designer Customers


We have a part time Production Manager role (developing into a full time role if you wish) for a maker / designer to make custom products for our online community of 130,000 makers / designers. And to help us change the world.


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

* You value what we value.

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

* You are:

  • A designer / maker. With a proven eye for detail.
  • Experienced with laser cutters.
  • Experienced with vector design software, specifically Adobe Illustrator.
  • Familiar with the properties of the materials in our catalog here.
  • Someone who works harmoniously with your team members to delight customers.
  • Cool under extreme pressure, and you radiate this with your team members and suppliers.
  • A happy soul. Who communicates well (including online with our global team).
  • Proactive. Detailed. Process driven. *All three.*
  • Someone who likes to lead, and enjoys 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.

    You’ll be our part time Production Manager (minimum 15 hours per week). You’ll be the trusted maker of our customer’s product designs. You’ll enable us to deliver on time as our customer demand is growing.

    Your typical day includes:

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

    * Managing our online customer order queue, and making customer’s orders using our laser cutters.

    * Managing our materials stock so we do not run out. And communicating with our materials suppliers as needed.

    * Carefully packaging and shipping customer orders. And communicating with our shipping suppliers as needed.

    * Lending your expertise to assist our customers improve their product designs, as needed.

    * Liaising with our customer 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 customer/production team discussion about customer experience.

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

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


    * Freedom and independence to run your own shift.
    * Feeling that your work day makes a difference in other people’s lives.
    * Market hourly rate.
    * Employee rates on laser cutting your own stuff.


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

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

    Hence in 2007 Ponoko launched at the first TechCrunch conference and became the world’s first to enable designers to make & sell downloadable product designs online (open, free, paid).

    Since then a community of 130,000 makers, designers, hackers, brands and businesses have made over 400,000 custom products online. And they’ve sold them via our website, their own 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.


    Send an email to 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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    Building a laser cut and 3D printed PlotClock

    Arduino-driven clock that writes the time, erases and repeats

    Self-declared “Geek Mom” Debra posts some pretty amazing DIY projects on her blog, and this version she made of the PlotClock is well worth a closer look.

    As you can see in the video above, the PlotClock is a timekeeping device that diligently wipes away the previous figures before scrawling the current time with an erasable pen.

    “There is something very human and endearing about the motion of the arms as they perform their task of drawing and erasing over and over and over again.”

    Debra followed instructions that she found on Thingiverse and incorporated extra modifications suggested by other Thingiverse members. Even still, resolving the design was an iterative process that included using SketchUp to visualise how the mechanism works before sending files to Ponoko for laser cutting.

    “The upload and ordering process was very easy.  The hardest part was waiting for the package to arrive.”

    And arrive it did, in a timely manner. Read on to discover how she added in a variation of the 3D printed cap for the dry-erase pen, and used the flexibility of Arduino programming to customize the code to the specific requirements of this project.

    via Geek Mom Projects

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    Boxing Day Only: Get 30% Off

    Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean the deals are too.

    We’re celebrating Boxing Day with an awesome one-day deal:

    From midnight tonight until 11:59pm tomorrow, get 30% off the making cost of any Laser Cutting order when you use this code – EGXYUD – at checkout here.

    Happy Boxing Day!

    Note: Discount good for 30% off the making costs of your order. Offer good for Free Personal Factory accounts only.

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    Let’s take a closer look at Matte Acrylic

    A material that enables your design to shine

    When we talk about laser cutting in acrylic, most of the time the focus is on materials with that familiar glossy surface. Today we are taking a closer look at glossy acrylic’s lesser-known (but just as fantastic) cousin, Matte Acrylic.

    Available in the Ponoko Materials Library in both black and white options, Matte Acrylic is textured on the top surface, and glossy (like the regular acrylic) on the back. We have a detailed post in the Ponoko Support Forums, which runs through many of the characteristics of this versatile material. Supporting images provide real-world examples and help to clarify whether Matte Acrylic is the right choice for your next laser cutting project.

    Learn about how to best make use of this material by combining it with glossy acrylic on larger projects. See examples of the contrast between shiny and matte finishes, and how to use metallic paint to fill laser etched details. There are also a few quirks to discover that you may not have encountered before, and the tutorial includes handy tips and tricks such as advice on removing protective paper.

    See more in the full post on Ponoko’s Support Forums.

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    How to etch mirror acrylic

    Laser etched impact made easy

    As the Festive Season approaches and we become more and more enamoured with all things shiny, here are our tips on how to use laser etching for some serious impact on mirror acrylic.

    People love the combination of crisp laser definition with the reflective sheen of mirror acrylic, and to create these effects there are a few key points to remember. The main one is that you’re not etching into the surface of the acrylic, but rather through the reflective coating on the rear of the material.

    Another tip that may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it can sneak up on you – remember to reverse the artwork so that it reads correctly when viewed from the other side of the sheet.

    For an informative collection of examples including vector and raster engraving, as well as different approaches to filling the etched designs, head over to the Ponoko Support Forums for the full scoop.

    Ponoko presents: Laser Etched Mirror Acrylic

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    Ponoko Customer Captures Oakland Spirit

    Oakland inspired designs from Phillip Yip

    Phillip Yip is the Oakland-based engineer, designer and photographer behind Antietam Designs – laser cut jewelry modeled after Oakland city trees and other local inspirations.

    If you live in the San Francisco Bay, you’re probably already familiar with Phillip’s designs. His iconic Oakland Tree bamboo earrings were recently spotted on Oakland mayor-elect Libby Schaaf in November’s campaign trail.

    As far back as he can remember, Philip has always wanted to design and make things. In high school, he packed his schedule with as many art classes as he could. After studying mechanical engineering in college, Philip moved out to the SF Bay Area where he was inspired to make his own designs after attending an art & fashion show at the Galleria in San Francisco.

    Phillip was drawn to Ponoko partially because he wanted to use natural materials, and keep manufacturing as local as possible. “It’s easier for me from a logistics standpoint” he says “it supports our local economy, and being able to talk to Ponoko staff in person helps me design better and more efficiently.”

    Philip’s pride in his city is apparent in his work. His jewelry line draws on inspiration like the famous Oakland cranes, and some of the beautiful latte art created by local baristas.

    “I live in Oakland, California, and like many residents here, I’m proud to call Oakland home. I want to create pieces that reflect that and celebrate our city. I also enjoy good coffee and was inspired to make pieces based on some of the beautiful latte art that baristas here create.”

    I asked Philip what he loved about Ponoko, and he cited how easy it is to use Ponoko’s service. “Ponoko has a wide material selection and already has the laser settings dialed in for each material,” he says “so there’s no need to experiment with the laser cutter itself. I like that I can upload files easily and get an instant quote. I haven’t found anyone else who offers such a seamless experience.”

    Phillip offers up the following advice to other designers/sellers:

    “I think it’s worth the effort to experiment a lot and try a bunch of prototypes. If you are trying to sell in stores, I also recommend getting in touch with local retailers, as the ones I have dealt with have been extremely supportive.”

    In addition to Antietam Designs, Philip’s designs are available at his ETSY shop, or you can get them in person at Oaklandish.

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

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    Buy One, Get One Free — Buy a Ponoko Gift Voucher, Get a FREE Making Coupon

    Go Get it From Now Until Tuesday December 23rd !

    Who’s that coming down the chimney? It’s Voucher Claus again! And he’s got a mittenful of glowing BOGO Ponoko vouchers.

    If you know someone who makes stuff, then you know someone who would love a Ponoko voucher. And the best part of giving this gift is that you get a little something for yourself.

    Vouchers are emailed as PDFs so you can print them off for stocking stuffers or keep it virtual.

    Buy a Gift Voucher by 11:59 pm Tuesday December 23rd and get a FREE Making Coupon!

    • Buy $1,000 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $500 Making Coupon.
    • Buy $500 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $225 Making Coupon.
    • Buy $250 of Gift Vouchers – get a FREE $110 Making Coupon.
    • Buy a $100 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $40 Making Coupon.
    • Buy a $50 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $20 Making Coupon.
    • Buy a $25 Gift Voucher – get a FREE $10 Making Coupon.

    What’s the difference you ask?
    A *Gift Voucher* is good for any part of a make-it-yourself order: making, materials and shipping. A *Making Coupon* is good for the making costs only (i.e. the actual laser cutting).

    Both these Gift Vouchers and Making Coupons can be used with both Ponoko Free and Prime accounts!

    Please see our Gift Voucher Guidelines and our Making Coupon Guidelines for all the important fine print.

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    Tuesday is the Final Deadline to Order Laser Cutting in Time for the Holidays

    Final Deadline for Holiday Orders is December 9!

    Did you miss our early order deadline?

    You’ve still got time place rush orders for the holidays!

    Place orders before midnight on December 9th to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.

    Please note: The early deadline for Holiday Orders has past – You will likely need to pay for an upgrade to faster making and/or shipping speeds to expedite your order.

    If you’ve got any questions about the timeframe of your order, just get in touch : )

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    Tuesday is the Early Deadline to Order Laser Cutting in Time for the Holidays

    Early Deadline for Holiday Orders is November 25!

    Need some laser cutting done and in your hands before the holidays?

    Order by Tuesday to ensure in-time delivery without having to upgrade to faster making or shipping.

    The final deadline for holiday orders is December 9th.

    If you’ve got any questions about the timeframe of your order, just get in touch : )

    Note: The holiday order deadline for 3D printing has passed.

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