Problem Solving with Ponoko

improving one’s private life


One of the best things about rapid manufacturing is the potential for mass-customization. We usually think of mass-customization as the ability to change the look of a design as dictated by personal taste. But as Professor Ian Bogost at the Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrates, mass-customization can be about coming up with solutions to design challenges.

The bedroom closet in Bogost’s older Atlanta home is exceptionally narrow and cannot fit standard hangers. He dealt with unusable closet for five years by putting in makeshift shelving and using the downstairs closet. But this summer Bogost announced “Today I finally re-engineered my closet, in a way that I don’t think would have been feasible even a year ago.


He used Ponoko to create a set of black acrylic hangers customized to fit his non-standard closet. The hangers estimated at $7, which is indeed pricey compared to the price of ready-made hangers. But the alternative was to purchase a large wardrobe. “I was happy to pay the price. A few hundred dollars is far less than I would have had to spend on a wardrobe. Plus, the value of reclaiming the space necessary for such a large piece of furniture is beyond financial measure.”


Bogsot closes out his experience with re-engineering his closet with Ponoko by saying:

Perhaps the more interesting uses of on-demand manufacture are the personal ones, the ones designed for specific use rather than armchair entrepreneurship: a set of CafePress-printed t-shirts created for a family trip to Disney World. A custom LuLu-bound book made to keep a set of personal recipes. A set of Ponoko-forged clothes hangers that allow a broken closet to be used again.”

4 Responses to “Problem Solving with Ponoko”

  1. Duann Says:

    that’s a great simple, practical use of ponoko.

  2. Jon Says:

    It’s also a great example of solving a problem in an efficient manner.

    Jon @

  3. Patrik Says:

    $7 per hanger? “A few hundred dollars” in hangers sounds a bit steep to me.

    It’s interesting to see that he decided to go with a standard wire hanger design, even though he had the opportunity to redesign them to be both stronger (widen the hook and round the sharp transition between hook and hanger) and cheaper (don’t cut out the center triangle). Heck, what’s the point of being a professor if you can’t get a bunch of industrial design students redesign the optimal coat hanger for you? 😉

    Alternatively, you could just lasercut a jig to make your own *wire* hangers, at a fraction of the cost…

  4. Jason Says:

    Alternatively, you can just bend wire hangers to fit the wardrobe. There, I fixed it. 😉