Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Centerpieces

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Table Numbers and Centerpieces

laser cut wedding table personalisedfavours

Wedding guests have their first taste of things to come with custom laser cut invitations, and we’ve seen how fun and playful laser cut photo booth props entertain and delight. The all-important wedding cake has also had a romantic laser cut makeover, and today we are turning our attention to laser cut solutions for tables and guest seating.

With over 2.5 million weddings in the US annually, clever Etsy sellers are tapping into a niche market that has an eye for custom centerpiece design. From table numbers to decorative center features, laser cutting enables designers to explore creative themes that enhance the magic of the wedding day.

Pictured above is a three-panel centerpiece from Personalised Favours. Across the different panels there are laser etched details featuring the table number and also the menu, putting all the important table information into one neat package. Other popular Etsy offerings are freestanding table numbers such as the neat script from Foote and Flame (below, left) and a romance-themed numbered heart from PinkSwann (below, right).


Also from Personalised Favours, the ornate script of these staked numbers (below) make great use of the complex contours that are enabled by laser cutting. Rather than have an attached base for the numbers to stand on their own, these can be inserted into an existing centerpiece for more height and greater presence on the table.

laser cut wedding personalisedflavours2

Acrylic, another favorite material for laser cutters, also lends itself well to the wedding table. Pictured below is a bold laser cut table number set with integrated heat-formed base from ZCreateDesign. Options for these table numbers include black, transparent, silver or gold mirror acrylic.

laser cut wedding table zcratedesign

Further creative outcomes can be achieved when combining laser cut table numbers with other functional table elements. We saw the laser etched menu earlier, and the following examples from Foote and Flame also demonstrate ways to merge concepts together. The laser cut text becomes a romantic illuminated feature when a tealight candle is inserted into the assembly, and a laser etched coaster identifies seating arrangements and also becomes a personalised keepsake for the lucky guest to take home.


Wedding decorations are an opportunity to express personality and explore the inspired creativity that fits so naturally when love is in the air. Through clever use of laser cutting, centerpieces and table numbers can easily become a part of the happy couple’s unique expression on the big day. Let us know in the comments below how you would use Ponoko’s Personal Factory to create some truly inspirational laser cut table features.

Shopify vs Etsy: Where Should You Sell Your Laser Cut Products?

Etsy vs Shopify

If you’re planning to selling your laser cut products online online, one of the bigger decisions you would need to make is the channel. Should you sell in your own website under the banner of your own brand or on a known marketplace? Both platforms essentially deliver on the same objective – to get your product out in the market and to get you started on earning sales revenues.

How each one performs really depends on a number of factors. In this blog, we’ve covered how to enhance photos of your laser cut products and how to write engaging product descriptions. These may be factors to help your product sell better in both platforms.

What’s more important to ask is how each platform aligns with your business goals. Are you trying to test the waters with your products to see how the market will react to it? Then Etsy would be a good option for this. Are you trying to make a name for yourself and grown your own brand? Then Shopify is the best venue for such.

Let’s dig a little deeper with three points comparison that most online sellers are concerned with: exposure, customization and price.

Comparing Etsy and Shopify:

  • Exposure – Etsy is already a massive brand with its own following. According to Etsy, the creative marketplace has 24 million buyers around the world is shopping for unique items from them. Shopify, on the other hand, is a platform that lets you set up your own ecommerce store. Meaning, you are starting as a new brand that may not have the same recognition as other big brand names. This also means you need to exert extra effort on your part to deliver traffic to your own website. In this regard, Etsy is the clear winner.
  • Customization – Etsy doesn’t give you much control over how your product will be displayed – except of course for the photos and the descriptions of the products. If you’re pretty savvy with web design and have preferences over the way your products are displayed, then Shopify may be the better option for you.
  • Pricing – Now this is the crux in the decision making for most online sellers in either platforms. The difference in pricing depends on how much you will be selling. There is no membership fee in Etsy but it does cost $0.20 to list an item for 4 months or until it sells. However, there is a 3.5% fee on the sales price. Shopify has a three-tiered pricing option: Basic is at $29 with a 2% transaction fee, Shopify is at $79 with a 1% transaction fee and Advanced Shopify is priced at $299 with a 0.5% transaction fee. So at the on-set, you already see that the basic difference is in your upfront cost. Etsy charges very little to get your products listed while you need to spend more on Shopify. Calculating overall cots will depend on how much is sold. Low volume businesses actually save more on Etsy but when the orders start coming in, expect to spend more with the high transaction cost. We found this article comparing fees for Etsy vs Shopify Fees based on volume and item price: Shopify vs Etsy Fees

Etsy and Shopify each have strong offerings to laser cut makers who want to start selling their products online. If you want to start building a following or trial your business idea, we suggest going for Etsy. If you’re already confident about your sales and think it’s time to level up on building your own brand, then make a move towards Shopify. There is no right or wrong answer when asking which is the better platform for selling your laser cut items, it’s really just a matter of strategy.

How to Successfully Sell Laser Cut Products Online

selling laser cut products online

Custom laser cut products can be a huge hit if you find the right market for it. While many brick-and-mortar stores and even big box retailers might love to put your products on their stands, the cost of selling through these channels are not always the most profitable. Your margin may shrink depending on what these merchants charge per sale — these may be based on a commission or a consignment fee. Starting your physical store for selling is even more costly. There is one channel where you can find success without a lot of fees or overhead costs eating into your profits: online selling.

Benefits of Online Selling: 

Aside from the revenue factor, other benefits of selling online include:

  1. Accessibility – Essentially, an online store is open 24/7 and anyone, anywhere in the world can access it to buy from you. On the flip side, you as a seller, can operate the business anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access and a reliable fulfilment partner like Ponoko.
  2. Measurability – There are many web analytics and ecommerce tracking systems now available to give you access to information you need to make smart decisions on the fly. Find out everything you need to know about your user demographics, website sessions, conversions, cart abandonment, time on site and more — data which is actionable and can help you achieve even more sales.
  3. Scalablity – When you know which products sell best, you can easily increase stock levels, direct marketing efforts towards specific products, diversify your product range or cross-sell and upsell as necessary.
  4. Flexibility – Making changes to your online store is usually very easy. This may mean adding deals of the day, putting products up for sale or on clearance, adding new products, changing prices and more. Unlike physical retail stores, there is no need to print expensive display materials to show your potential buyers these changes.
  5. Visibility – Online marketing and search engine optimization can give your marketing budget more mileage. You can do very specific targeting of your market — from geo-location to interest. With your store already being accessible from anywhere in the world, the right marketing investment can give you even more visibility to an audience that can actually convert into sales.

There you have it, five amazing benefits you can get from selling online. We’d love to hear from successful online sellers about their experience. Please share your experience in the comment below.


Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Photo Booth Props

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Laser Cut Photo Booth Props

laser cut wedding photobooth props evi 1

Photo booths at weddings are an increasingly popular way to engage guests with the spirit of the celebration, and with good reason. The photobooth provides a way to have a little carefree fun, all while creating lasting memories on the happy couple’s special day.

No photobooth is taken seriously unless it has a good selection of props; and through laser cutting, it can be easier than ever before to make high-quality custom props for wedding guests to use in their photo session. Let’s take a look at a few of the fun ways people have used laser cutting to produce photobooth props for sale on Etsy.

Laser Cut Text Props

Pictured above is a collection of laser cut text props by Evi Amaira Custom Decor. Laser cut text works really well in this application because it is very easy to create relatively complex shapes, as can be seen in the fancy fonts used here. Two other approaches to text are shown below, where the messages have been laser etched into the timber surface and then finished to make the text really pop.



In these exaples (above) from Studio 38 Torquay, the text has been laser etched and then filled with enamel paint. The surface is then coated with a clear matte varnish that prevents flash glare from ruining the photos. Here is a closer look at the laser etched text with enamel paint:

laser cut wedding photobooth props studio38torquay-2a

Laser Cut Object Props

For those whose actions speak louder than words, clowning around in front of the camera often comes naturally – but for others, it can help to have fun graphic object props at hand. The laser cut wedding photo booth prop sets from Evi Amaira (below, left) and Styline (below, right) can help to create that distinguished, formal feel or perhaps add a little spice to the party.


Laser Cut Photo Booth Frames

Another great idea is to go one step further and supply a laser cut photo booth frame for guests to pose with! The example on the left from PhotoBoothProp is in the style of a polaroid print, and the wood has been painted in preparation for dry-erase markers so guests can personalise their messages to the happy couple. Featured on the right, another approach to the photo frame prop from Scrapadabra includes the names of the matrimonial couple highlighted in ornate script.


Photo booths are a lot of fun and set up an opportunity for wedding guests to share their joy with the happy couple in creative ways. Using your Ponoko Personal Factory and some clever laser cutting, the wedding photo both experience can truly become a dynamic memory maker for that special day.


Laser Cut Success Stories: Akujin Corps Etsy Store

How to quit your day job and find success with niche laser cut products 

akujincorps - laser cut glasses

Robert Overstreet was once a mild mannered IT consultant with a passion for cosplay on the side, but thanks to some clever design thinking and effective use of the Ponoko Personal Factory, his Akujin Corps Etsy store has turned into a serious full-time business.

Akujin Corps specialises in laser cut acrylic glasses for cosplay enthusiasts. The designs are inspired by the dynamic characters from various anime, comics and other media – a wildly creative culture where everyday boundaries blur with fantastical action and adventure.

Let’s take a look at Robert’s journey and reflections on his laser cutting experience with Ponoko.


How did you get started as a designer and seller on Etsy?

To be honest I do not recall how I found Etsy. I expect it was mentioned somewhere while looking for alternatives to eBay.

What was the inspiration behind your product?

I started going to conventions in the mid-1990s. As cosplay started becoming more common over the next few years I noticed a lot of Vash cosplayers did not have glasses or had poor replicas. I searched online and found the official movic replicas selling on eBay for $150-$300 and the poor replicas selling at about $90. I bought up a few pairs of similar looking glasses and modified the arms and started selling them for $20 on eBay. I did not make a lot, but I made enough to afford buying more glasses to modify as well as my anime, comics and games.

What led to you try Ponoko?

Before I found Ponoko my products were very limited. I mostly worked with existing products that I purchased modified, then resold.

In 2012 I discovered Ponoko. Now I could design and cut acrylic and started making unique designs instead of modifying existing products. When business started picking up in late 2013 I had to choose between working full-time in IT for the county or my glasses. Certain circumstances came up and I put in my two weeks notice with the county and have been making glasses since.

What are the top 3 things you love about Ponoko? Why?

The simple design requirements, the great customer service, and a fairly decent number of materials to choose from.

The design requirements are easy to understand and work with in inkscape which is free. Files can be created saved edited without expensive software or conversion.
It is not unusual for me to receive product and let it sit for a few days before I need to assemble a piece from the lastest Ponoko delivery. Sometimes I find my acrylic parts are damaged under the original paper by the manufacturer. When I contact Ponoko about this issue or other issues like product broken in the mail or cut in the wrong color which both very rarely occur, I never have any trouble getting in touch with Ponoko’s customer service who quickly arrange for a replacement. The number of materials to choose from in acrylic alone is pretty great. I have only run into a few instances where color limitation was an issue and in those cases Ponoko was willing to help me with a custom order.

How did you make (and sell) your glasses before Ponoko? How is this different from your Ponoko process?

From 1996 until 2012 I worked with existing products modifying them to create new products. I believe I had about 17 unique products until I started working with Ponoko. After the discovery of Ponoko in late 2012 I went from making a few different products to hundreds of unique items in less than a year.


How long does it take to go from: (i) idea to design; (ii) design to prototype; (ii) prototype to product; (iv) product to first customer (or media attention)? How do these 4 speeds compare to doing this without Ponoko?

With Ponoko, From idea to design takes an hour or two, and design to prototype takes about a week. If the design works out I also end up with a product at this point. If the design does not work out I am looking at another hour or two fixing issues with the design and another week waiting for the revised design to be delivered. Once I have a new product listed on Etsy I usually have my first order within a week. Without Ponoko or a similar service my business does not exist.

What advice do you want to give to other designer/sellers?

Do not take criticism and feedback personally, but do not let people walk all over you either. Customer service is important but you should expect to be treated respectfully by your customers as well.


So now that you know the story behind Akujin Corps, you can find the current range of laser cut cosplay glasses on Etsy.

If you’re inspired by Robert’s success to try laser cutting your own products, head over to the Ponoko Personal Factory and start making today.


Creating Engaging Product Descriptions for your Laser Cut Products

product descriptions

Another factor that can help you sell your laser cut products better is your product descriptions. This is goes hand in hand with your product photos. An engaging product description lets your target audience understand what you are selling and why they should buy it.

Tips To Get You Started On Writing Engaging Product Descriptions:

  • Know your audience – write for the audience that you are selling to. If you are selling items that are technical, provide specifications that would be meaningful to them. If you are selling fun items, make your copy resonante this.
  • Talk about features  and benefits – most people who write about their products only talk about the features such as size, material, etc and forget to focus on the benefits of the products that they are selling. Always answer the question “what’s in it for me?” for your audience.
  • Use bullet points – When talking about the key features of your product, using bullet points makes it easier for your audience to digest your content when they are just skimming through different products.
  • Skip the jargon – Tech speak or jargon limited to a specific industry may make you sound more credible but it is limiting your audience and therefore, limiting your ability to sell your product. Remember, if your potential buyer doesn’t understand what it is, they most likely won’t buy it.
  • Tell a story – When you’re selling online, people don’t see your products and they can’t touch it — so that means there might be a gap in that emotional connection with your product. Let their imagination fill in this gap by using mini stories to talk about your product. Tell them how you came up with the item. If it’s a BBQ item you are selling, make them image that they will become the hero of the BBQ with what you are selling. If it’s a beautiful accessory, talk to them about a glamourous night and standing out at a party because of your product.

The important thing to remember when you are writing your product descriptions is that you are talking to actual people. They want to know more about your product and how it will benefit them. Have you tried writing product descriptions before? Do you have tips to share? Comment them below! We’d love to hear from our makers, too.

Etsy Wholesale will relaunch its Open Call in August. Are you ready to pitch?

Now in its second year, Etsy Wholesale’s Open call brings together independent designers and buyers from top retail stores in the US. Members of the wholesale community are invited to apply and post their pitch to Instagram by tagging @EtsyWholesale and #EtsyOpenCall along with one of the participating retailers.  Up to 50 selected designers will be given a chance to pitch their line to a panel of retailers at Etsy’s Brooklyn headquarters in August.

What’s on the line is a chance to get huge purchase orders to see your products in stores during the busy holiday season. During the Open Call, the retailers will be looking at samples, giving critiques and suggestions and more importantly, placing their orders for their stores. Participating retailers include big names such as Cooper Hewitt, Paper Source, giggle, Macy’s and Whole Foods.

During the event, HGTV Magazine’s Lifestyle Director Jodi Kahn will award one seller with the “Designer to Watch” title and feature their work on Three finalists for the title will be invited to present their products at HGTV Magazine’s 3rd Annual Blogger Block Party in New York City.

To find out more about Etsy Wholesale’s Open Call event, visit:

Are you ready to pitch your products? Ponoko is your personal factory and we can help you supply that purchase order if you win.


Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #41

Trade Show Marketing: How to attract people to your booth with gifts/giveaways and promo products


Setting up at a trade show so that your brand can have maximum impact is important, not only to ensure that you get noticed on the day but also so that your presence is memorable beyond the trade event itself. Promotional products and giveaways are a great way to create these interest and memory triggers, so let’s take a look at how to get the most out of this essential trade show marketing tool.

Understanding value

Choosing what to use as a giveaway item at your booth will only work for your brand if it has value – both in terms of being cost effective for your company and also a sense of value to the potential customer. While it might be nice to give away iPads or other fancy items, most companies simply don’t have a budget that stretches this far! A small, interesting keepsake is more realistic; and that is where laser cutting services can best provide unique customized solutions for your brand.

Quality vs quantity

Setting a budget for your promotional products (and, more importantly, sticking to it) will free you up to focus on developing more effective solutions for your brand. Being cost effective is important but that does not mean you have to be cheap! Your brand is more likely to make an impact if you can increase the desirability of giveaway items by being selective about who they are handed out to, rather than flooding the floor with cheap promo products that have no meaning or context for the recipient.

Targeting booth visitors based on criteria that promotes common ground and also business opportunities sets up the exchange for your valued, quality item. The result will be something that is a real conversation-starter both at the time of interaction on your stand and also when they return to their co-workers after the show.

Be interesting

Visitors to your booth need to be enticed to take a closer look, and clever promotional products are a good way to get peoples’ attention. For laser cut trade show giveaways, this could mean something that is particularly useful, and/or something that is incredibly unique. If your promo item comes under either of these two categories, then chances are it will make it further than the unfortunate (and inevitable) post-show purge when so much mindless event collateral gets tossed in the trash.

Don’t forget Branding

While we are talking here about trying to do more than the obvious solution of plonking your company logo on the side of a pencil, it is important to ensure that your company branding is a part of the promotional product outcome. Laser cutting services like Ponoko’s Personal Factory are a good way to incorporate branding and brand messaging in clever and unique ways that will help your promotional products have brand recognition and lasting value.


Preparing your trade show campaign with more than one promotional item can ensure you are ready for unexpected outcomes on the day. You may have come up with a clever, unique solution… only to find that the stall across from you has also been clever and unique to the point where attendees find it difficult to distinguish between the two! Providing more than one item means you are more likely to have something truly unique in the sea of booths at the show.

Another possibility is that your killer promo idea is so successful that supplies quickly run out, leaving you with just a smile and a handshake to offer further visitors. You are less likely to run out of giveaways if visitors to your booth can choose between a few options. If you do happen to run out of one of them, you will have a backup or two to ensure awareness of your brand is effectively passed on.

Planning ahead

All of the above tips won’t count for much if your timing is off. Be sure to plan your promotional products with enough lead time to design, source and/or produce the items. While laser cutting services do have a quick turnaround, planning ahead will mean you can get the most out of the versatility that laser cutting can provide.

Try to fit the following into your pre-event workflow:

– Start with a test run to prototype your solution before committing to the final order. For many laser cut solutions the first step is to mock-up your design on paper with a desktop printer!
– Next, send through a few variations to your Personal Factory to further test and refine the laser cut/laser etched designs.
– Allow enough time for the finishing touches. Depending on your design, laser cut items may need to be cleaned, assembled, or inserted into packaging.

Keeping on top of this will give you the confidence that your promotional product is ready for the public by the time the trade event comes around.

Ask for help!

The friendly staff at Ponoko are not only experts when it comes to the technical side of making laser cut promotional products, they are also capable designers and clever thinkers in their own right. So if you have an awesome idea for your next trade show but are not quite sure how to make it happen, do get in touch at any stage of the project to see if we can help you reach a successful outcome.

How have you had success on the floor at trade events using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

Where Should You Sell Your Laser Cut Products? Maker’s Markets vs Online Selling

Custom-made items are steadily gaining popularity. But you probably already know that by now. If you’ve ever thought about selling your laser cut products, now is the best time to do it. There are a lot of channels you can try for testing the waters of selling your products. The two main channels are online selling and selling in a physical location.

Online makes it easy to expand distribution and sell products. Even in this space, there are several channels to choose from. As a maker, you can set up your own store. Buying your own domain, getting hosting and putting your site together is relatively easy if you have some coding skills. If not, you can always buy turnkey solutions or get easy-to-setup sites like WordPress or Shopify. There are also DIY-friendly retail sites such as Etsy which have made it easier for artisans, woodworkers or metalworkers to sell online.

Then, there are maker community conferences usually called Maker’s Markets or Maker Faires. The first Maker Faire started in San Francisco and New York but are now becoming more commonplace across the globe. These events are also drawing in crowds by the thousands. According to Make magazine, the attendance of about 74,000 in 2009 grew to 120,000 in 2013.

So how do you choose one over the other?

It really depends on your skills and your comfort level as a seller. Skill-wise, selling online requires a bit of technical knowledge. If understanding terms like html, hosting and FTP seem out of your league, then start with face-to-face selling via a Maker’s Market. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are uncomfortable chatting up with potential buyers or pushing to close the sale, then an online channel might be your best bet.

There are also several benefits to consider. Online selling means less overhead cost. There is no need to rent out a both or set up your physical store, pay for utilities or hire people to maintain your retail space. Another important advantage of online is selling is the wider reach. Over 1 billion people worldwide use the internet today, reaching them is a matter of knowing how to market your products online. Analytics software also makes it easy to measure the results of any activity you do and attribute success to the right campaign.

Selling in a physical store, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to talk directly to your target market. You can easily find out their feedback and take note of improvements you need to make without conducting complicated surveys or focus group discussions. As a maker, you also get instant gratification when you hear good reviews about your work and can be quite exhilarating and inspiring.

That’s our take on both selling channels for makers. Have you tried selling your products online and in Maker’s Markets? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #34

Themed ‘Build Your Own’ event kits


Diy kits are a great way to engage people with the world that your brand inhabits. From a collection of snap-together laser cut parts, a miniature diorama can be created that entertains and stimulates playful conversation.

Connect to an event

The example here comes from Michiel Post van der Molen’s wedding, where guests were given a Build Your Own Honeymoon kit that enabled them to become immersed in the newlywed spirit. The package contained iconic laser cut silhouettes along with a felt base, where a grid of slots allowed personal interpretations of the ideal romantic getaway to be clipped into place.



Connecting with your brand

What unique worlds can be created to connect people with your brand using laser cutting from the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. By handing out simple, thoughtful construction kits to potential customers, there is an opportunity for them to become new storytellers and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.