It is an exciting moment when your design is ready to be laser cut, but it can really pay off to do a trial cut in cardboard first before moving ahead with more expensive materials.
Remember, with laser cutting you are paying for the time it takes for the machine to make your design… and cardboard cuts really quickly. This contributes to it being one of the most affordable materials, which means you can get a fast, inexpensive test run of your design. Once you are happy with the cardboard version, you can order your design in a more expensive material with greater confidence that it will come out the way you had hoped.
If your final outcome is to be made from cardboard… well, then kick back and relax because you’re already one step ahead!
Tell us about how trial cuts in cardboard have helped keep your laser cutting costs down in the comments below.
Even if you are positive that your design is just right, it is always wise to check those details one more time before sending files to be laser cut. There is a very simple way that this can be done, thanks to your trusty desktop paper printer.
Printing out your design on paper is an ideal way to spot sizing or design errors, see whether holes or tolerances are big enough, and get a general feel for what your final result will look like. You could consider this as a free instant first prototype.
Working with digital files can be super efficient but sometimes people do lose track of whether their design will look just as good in the physical world as it does on-screen. So start your physical prototyping at home, and confirm that everything is a-ok before spending time and money on laser cutting. Once you have your details sorted, then take the plunge and upload your files to Ponoko for laser cutting.
Have you saved by making paper prototypes at home? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Ensure delivery in time for Mother’s Day day by ordering before these deadlines.
To ensure you’re stocked up in time to sell and ship your products into your customer’s hands, here are your order dates for you to run an organized ship – keep in mind, the earlier you order, the more you’ll save.
Laser Cutting Order Deadlines:
Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Tuesday April 21st 2015.
Upgraded Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
Metal Machining (PCM) Order Deadline:
Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Wednesday April 15th 2015.
3D Printing Order Deadline:
Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, April 10th 2015.
Prime just got even better.
We’ve just finished some major upgrades to the software that powers Ponoko Prime. For those of you not familiar, Prime is a monthly subscription with tons of benefits like:
• Lower cost making on laser-cutting and 3D printing.
• Free making speed upgrades on every order.
• Volume discounts up to 55% off.
• Loyalty pricing with lower per-minute rates for every month you are a Prime customer.
The bulk of the changes we’ve made are behind-the-scenes upgrades to improve stability and make for a better experience. In addition, we’ve added the following features:
• Easily check the status of your account, next billing date, and your Prime Loyalty rate all in one place.
• Quickly change or update credit card information.
• Get email updates when there is a change to your account.
• Better tools for help desk agents to assist with Prime questions.
• General UX improvements.
Not ready to upgrade? Still curious about the kind of savings you’ll get? Just upload any of your designs to your Personal Factory. You’ll be presented with a Prime price along with your regular cost breakdown.
Whether you are actual Royalty or just a regular Joe, on certain occasions there can be something special about slipping a crown onto your head. As this example from Art We Heart shows, there is scope to include considerable complexity (and therefore artistic expression and identity) when using laser cutting in this way.
Laser cut crowns are a cost-effective way to transform customers into proud, willing and eye-catching roving brand ambassadors.
With the Ponoko Personal Factory, there could be heads making a Regal impact wearing your company’s brand messaging at the next big trade show or industry event! What laser cut headwear have you come across? Let us know in the comments below.
Lasers and Star Wars go together like movies and popcorn, so it makes perfect sense to laser cut some Star Wars model fighters. Simon Green used these Thingiverse files to cut a model X-Wing and Tie Fighter from 3mm plywood. Watch the video above to see the laser cutter in action. Red Leader standing by…
Using the SketchUp plugin SliceModeler for the best friction fit
There are several ways to create 3D shapes from flat laser cut material, and each have their merits. Many Ponoko users ask questions about how to best design for interlocking parts – making this one of the more popular choices for transforming laser cut forms into 3D objects.
Interlocking parts can be mechanically fastened together, but in this tutorial we are looking at how to design friction-fit connections that neatly snap and lock into place.
Pictured above is a laser cut trivet made by Ponoko user Andrew Jones. To produce this form he used the freely available software SketchUp along with the handy SliceModeler plugin. He then compiled a detailed Instructables walkthrough that outlines his design process for interlocking laser cut products.
To achieve the glue-less design, small curved bumps (nodes) are added into each slot. This extra material allows the parts to slide together with enough contact and pressure to fit snugly. This sounds easy enough, but just how to get the right size and number of nodes takes some time and patience. Slot length, material thickness and density are just a few of the factors that need to be considered.
I highly recommend creating parts with different size and numbers of nodes so you can find the best fit that works for you. You might want a very hard fit that needs to be tapped together with a rubber mallet or you might want a fit that can be assembled by hand without any tools. The only way to find the fit that works for you is try different size nodes.
Click through to the full tutorial where you will learn how to create a basic form using Sketchup and SliceModeler, add the nodes, export into Inkscape and then add the final SVG to a Ponoko template ready for laser cutting.