10 things to know before laser cutting with Ponoko

Useful information for both new users and laser cutting veterans

Are you a seasoned Ponoko maker? Or perhaps your imagination has been tingling and you are bursting to make your very first Ponoko product.

Either way, here is a top-10 list that we think will come in handy for those new to laser cutting, and it also contains useful information that will help more experienced Ponoko members keep things running smoothly.

Let us know what you would add!

1. How long it will take to make and ship your order.

We make all orders as quickly as we can, and how long that takes depends on the volume of orders we are processing at any one time. Due to the number of variables involved, we’ve written a separate post to help you work out the likely total time your order will take.
Read about our order timeframes.

2. If you are using Inkscape, you MUST use our design templates, or your design will be sized incorrectly.

We strongly recommend that everyone use our templates for laying out their laser cutting designs. If you are using Inkscape *it is 100% necessary*. The way that Inkscape works with measurements is different to other vector-based design software packages, and if you do not use our templates your parts will be made the wrong size. If you’ve already got an Inkscape design ready, we have created a guide to putting it on our templates.
Read how to place existing Inkscape designs onto our templates.

…so that’s the first two, and there are eight further important pointers to wrap your head around when you continue reading the full post.   (more…)

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What is Laser Cutting?

Taking a step back to go through some laser cutter basics.

What is laser cutting, and why are we so excited about it?
As we’ll see in this brief overview, laser cutting is a relatively simple technology that makes it possible to cut or etch forms from sheet materials.

Laser cutters work in a similar way to other CNC (computer controlled) tools, however the cutting is done with a powerful beam of light instead of a sharp blade. To cut, the laser beam is focused to hit the material at a precise point, causing it to melt, burn or vaporize. Etching is achieved by focusing the laser on the surface of the material, where it will only burn or vaporize the topmost layer.

Laser Cutting is particularly useful because it works touch-free, meaning no mechanical forces or pressures are transferred to the material. This enables delicate cutting paths that can be repeated with a high level of precision, whether they are cut all the way through the material or etched as an impression onto the surface.   (more…)

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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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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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Showing personality with a hint of leather

Laser cut leather accessories to keep you looking sharp

If you’re out there struttin’ your stuff in the world of high fashion, there is a chance that you have seen some pretty fancy laser cut clothing and accessories on the catwalks.

Providing plenty of inspiration to draw on, designers and makers continue to show us that it’s easier than ever to create interesting looking laser cut leather accessories. Artists who work with leather comment on the versatility of this material, with variations in the supple qualities further enhanced by the colour tones brought out in the tanning process.

Pictured above are just a few examples of what can be achieved once you know your way around laser cutting in leather.

The first four laser cut leather items are from Polymath Design Lab, with images thanks to Shannon Henry on Flickr. Below that are two of Colin Francis’ leather cuffs from Cuffmodern in the Ponoko Showroom.

Have you ever wanted to give leather a try? Explore your creativity with leather in the Ponoko Personal Factory.

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Laser-cut Nixie Tube Geiger Counter

An amazing result from the Ponoko + Ogi Lumen + Bildr competition

Late last year Ponoko and Ogi Lumen sponsored a design competition for the wonderful bildr.org community. The prize was a set of nixie tubes and a Personal Factory voucher for laser-cutting.

Instructables user moustachenator won the prize and put it to good use, building this exquisite Gieger counter. He’s documented the build process with loving detail so you too can build your own retro-futuristic radiation detector just in time for the apocalypse.

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Ponoko announces Tinkercad 3D design app in the Personal Factory App Gateway

plus a chance to win a sample pack of 3D printing materials!

Tinkercad has just released the latest version of their browser based CAD and 3D modeling application, and this version allows users to send their designs to Ponoko’s 3D printing services directly through the app.

Tinkercad’s got a new look, a new logo, and an improved user interface designed to get things done fast and to be quick to learn. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. And best of all, you can send your designs to be 3D printed — all within your browser.

“We’re seeing a whole new range of CAD products being developed that make designing in 3D easier than ever,” says Ponoko CEO David ten Have. “Integrating those products directly with fabrication services means it’s also easier than ever to turn those designs into final products.”

Ten Have is very excited to see the addition of Tinkercad to Ponoko’s directory of product creation apps — the Personal Factory App Gateway.

(more…)

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Tutorial: getting started with the Personal Factory API in Python


Personal Factory is a cloud software platform for app developers to connect users directly to manufacturing devices to make custom goods on-demand.

It integrates product creation and customization apps with an established manufacturing and distribution system, so users can turn their designs into final products and have those products delivered to their door.

This is part one in a series of tutorials written by technologist Mark Schafer on working with the Personal Factory API in Python.

The full API documentation is here. All supplied examples use cURL.

The code for this tutorial can be found here: https://github.com/Neon22/Ponoko-API-from-python

(more…)

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