A Maker’s Christmas: Order Holiday Gifts By These Deadlines


Santa is a busy guy. He is a maker, ya know. So do the guy a solid. Help out his elves and create some cool Yule products to sell in your Etsy shop or give your friends, family and coworkers.

Need some inspiration to get in the holiday spirit? This Instructables tutorial will show you how to make laser-cut holiday decorations.


To see what kind of Christmas items sell on Etsy, check out CraftyLou2’s ornaments and baubles.


And don’t forget to check out the Ponoko Showroom where you’ll find ideas for snowflakes, candle luminaries, this Christmas Tree Ball Ornament With Stars—and more.


Want your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivas celebration to be full of good cheer? Then you better get your designs ready to start making! Your festive items take time to make, so place your order by the deadlines. You don’t want to be left with a lump of coal in your stocking!

Laser Cutting Order Deadlines

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, November 25, 2016

Upgraded Making & Shipping Speeds (charges apply): Last Orders by Saturday, December 10, 2016

Metal Machining (PCM) Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, November 18, 2016

3D Printing Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, November 18, 2016


What’s the difference between standard and upgraded? With standard making and shipping speeds, there are no extra fees for production or shipping if you order PCM or 3D printing by the November 18 deadline or order laser cutting by the November 25 deadline.

But what if you miss the deadline because all the stock in your Etsy store sold out? Or if you went to the mall and realized that you can’t get your mom another snowman sweater because she’ll disown you? Not to worry, you can upgrade to faster making speed and expedited shipping so you don’t miss out on the holiday festivities. This means you can wait to order…but only if you don’t mind spending some extra coin!

Also, delivery dates are dependent on shipping locations. To make sure your order is under the tree in time for Christmas, check the Estimated Delivery Date provided when placing an order. If it’s after December 23, then adjust the making speed or shipping speed (or both) until your preferred delivery date appears.

Holidays are hectic, so things can take a little longer to make and ship than during the rest of the year. This extra time is accounted for in the Estimated Delivery Date given when orders are placed.

Remember: Christmas is our busiest time of year. Don’t wait to make. Order by the deadlines and receive all your custom products for selling or personalized presents for gifting in time for your special celebrations. Get started today. You don’t want to end up on the naughty list!


New Materials: Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic

Just Released In The NZ Materials Catalog


Do we have a golden ticket for you! Now you can add some bling to any project with our new 1.6 mm Two Color Acrylic – Brushed Gold on Black. The first gold colored option for New Zealand, this acrylic features a metal-like, brushed-gold finish on top with a smooth black finish on the bottom.

Since the two-color acrylic engraves beautifully to reveal the black underneath, it’s perfect for making jewelry, signage, front panels on electronics and holiday decorations. Snowflakes are super pretty!


You can also make “golden tickets” for wedding invitations or use them as event VIP tickets.

For the ambitious, make golden tickets to kick off a special adventure for friends and family that would make Willy Wonka proud. (And there’s no purchase of Willy Wonka chocolate bars necessary. But you may start singing “I’ve Got The Golden Ticket” like Grandpa Joe. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…)

Acrylic – Two Color – Brushed Gold on Black

Learn more about Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic and get a Brushed Gold On Black Acrylic Sample.


With the addition of this new two-color acrylic, we now have 23 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in the NZ catalog. And if you love the gold and black combo, you’ll also want to check out Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic and Matte Black On White Acrylic to see how these cool graphic qualities can be added to designs.


What kind of golden projects do you want to make with this new material? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!


New Materials: 3 Two-Color Acrylics With Matte Finish Top

Just Released In The USA Materials Catalog


Just in time for the holidays: Three new 1.5 mm Two-Color Acrylics have made their debut in the USA catalog. With the addition of Red On White, Blue On White and Green On White, you’ll be happier than Buddy the elf when he finds out Santa is coming to town.

This material is special because it gives you the ability to “print” directly onto the material by engraving away the matte top layer, making it great for products that need text or graphics along with the unique shape you get with laser cutting.

Christmas tree ornaments, name badges or holiday baubles are just a few of the things you can make with this new material.

Acrylic – Two Color – Red On White

Learn more about Red On White Acrylic and get a Red On White Sample.


Acrylic – Two Color – Blue on White

Learn more about Blue On White Acrylic and get a Blue On White Sample.


Acrylic – Two Color – Green On White

Learn more about Green On White Acrylic and get a Green On White Sample.


To see all the acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available, check out the USA catalog. While the majority of our acrylic sheets are smooth, these three new two-color options have a matte top to give you more options for bringing designs to life while tapping into the matte-finish trend.


What do you think? Got any ideas for what you want to make with these new materials? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!


Laser Cut Toys For The Big Boys

Serious Fun With Drones And Robots


What is it about building robots that is so much fun? If you ask a kid, you will likely get a meaningful answer… however when it comes to grown men the wide-eyed fascination of youth has developed into a serious pursuit of quirky techno-novelty. In recent years, drones have joined the venerable robot as one of the top projects for big boys to tinker away at.

Through laser cutting, the design process for both drones and robots is streamlined and fully functional prototypes are just a mouse click away.       (more…)

Make Halloween Spooktacular; Order By These Deadlines


Skulls and spiders and witches, too
Ghosts, goblins and things that go boo
Your favorite time of year is near
Because Halloween is almost here!


What’s Halloween without fun costumes and scary decorations? Whether you like black cats, bats, pumpkins or zombies, there’s something ghoulish to add a little fright to this special night.

3D Laser Cut Skulls make festive decorations and are a fun activity for family and friends. Get the how-to instructions at Instructables.


For more Halloween inspiration, check out these mini laser cut skull and cross bones from Etsy seller TimberGreenWoods, who says the charms are great for beads, crafting, confetti or whatever else your imagination can dream up.


And these laser cut witches from Etsy seller ecoandfun will have you chanting “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”


Don’t forget to check out the Ponoko Showroom for even more ideas.

Want this Halloween to be frightfully special? Then you better get your designs ready to start making! Your spooktacular creations take time to make, so jot down these important dates. If you miss ’em, it will be all trick and no treat!

Laser Cutting Order Deadlines

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Thursday, October 13, 2016
Upgraded Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Metal Machining (PCM) Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

3D Printing Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

What’s the difference between standard and upgraded services for laser cutting? With standard making and shipping speeds, there are no extra fees for production or shipping if you order by the October 13 deadline.

But what if you miss the deadline because your black cat ate your sketches? Not to worry, you can upgrade to faster making speed and expedited shipping so you don’t miss out on the fun. This means you can wait to order…but only if you’re not frightened by a little price increase!

Also, delivery dates are dependent on shipping locations. To make sure your order is in your hot little hands in time for Halloween, check the Estimated Delivery Date provided when placing an order. If it’s after October 28, then adjust the making speed or shipping speed (or both) until your preferred delivery date appears.

Don’t have a horrific Halloween. Start making today. Or else you’ll be haunted until next year!


New Material: Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic

Just Released In The NZ Materials Catalog


Silver and black is classy. Elegant and understated. Nice contrast without being as stark as black and white. And this brushed silver on black acrylic will give the New Zealand market a new alternative to metal at an affordable price.

It’s 1.6mm thick black acrylic with a thin layer of brushed silver on top. Having the second color means the hassle of hand painting to achieve contrast has been eliminated. And since this two-color acrylic engraves nicely to reveal the black underneath, it’s ideal for making jewelry, signage and front panels on electronics.


Acrylic – Two Color – Brushed Silver on Black

Learn more about Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic and get a Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic Sample.


With the addition of this new two-color acrylic, we now have 22 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our NZ catalog. And if you like the concept of dual color combos, you may also want to check out Matte Black On White Acrylic.


Are you ready to have some fun with this new material? We are. So let’s get making. Share what you’d like to create with this new material by leaving a comment below!


New Materials: 3 Matte Acrylics – Turquoise, Yellow & Pink

Just Released In The USA Materials Catalog

From nail polish to furniture (and even some cars!), matte finishes are so on-trend. And now you can incorporate a matte finish in your designs with the introduction of three matte acrylics for the USA market: Turquoise, Yellow and Pink.

What’s super cool about these new acrylics is that they are translucent with a matte finish on both sides. So not only is the finish and texture new but so are the exciting new colors!

With a 3mm thickness, these acrylics are perfect for jewelry, enclosures, signage, business cards, luggage tags, name badges or anything that needs a soft, matte finish color.


Acrylic – Turquoise (Matte)

Learn more about Turquoise Matte Acrylic and get a Turquoise Sample.


Acrylic – Yellow (Matte)

Learn more about Yellow Matte Acrylic and get a Yellow Sample.



Acrylic – Pink (Matte)

Learn more about Pink Matte Acrylic and get a Pink Sample.


With the addition of these three new matte finishes, we now have 42 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our USA catalog. While the majority of our acrylic sheets are smooth, we recently introduced a couple that are matte on one side and shiny on the other. But the turquoise, yellow and pink matte acrylics are the first to be matte on BOTH sides.


So what do you think? Are you as stoked about these new materials as we are? Let us know what great ideas you have for using these acrylics by leaving a comment below!


Material Feature: Laser Cut Cardboard

Five Reasons Why The Cheapest Material Is Often The Best


Have you ever stopped to wonder where we would be without cardboard? For designers and makers using the Ponoko Personal Factory, cardboard is a miracle material that is not only one of the most versatile in terms of its physical properties; it is also one of the most cost-effective ways to turn ideas into laser cut reality.

Here are five reasons why we think laser cut cardboard is really, really cool.

1. Material Choice: The Cardboard Range

The versatility of cardboard owes much to its actual construction, and to make the most of these physical properties it helps to choose the right cardboard for the job. The range on offer from Ponoko varies from 6.7mm double-layer corrugated cardboard for serious structural applications through to single layer natural cardboard that is just 0.5mm thick. So whether your project involves stacked layers, slotted construction, curves, bends or folds… chances are there is something in the Ponoko Materials Library that will be just what you are looking for.


2. Disposable or Distinguished: Cheap Enough For Prototypes, Slick Enough For Art Objects

Laser cut cardboard can be used as a low-cost prototype option before moving to more expensive materials, or as many designers choose to do, the distinctive visual qualities of cardboard can be openly embraced as features of the final product.


3. Design Flexibility: 2D or 3D

Designing for laser cut cardboard can be as easy as sketching out a shape or pattern to be cut as a simple 2d object. Or if you prefer, complex 3D forms can be created using slotted construction, tabs and folds, and even stacking layers to create the form through progressive topographical variation.


4. Low Price: Material Cost and Laser Cutting Time

We keep going on about it, and for good reason. Cardboard is cheap, in the best possible way. As a raw material, it has a low cost price thanks to the huge amounts that are used in the packaging industry across the globe. Cardboard is lightweight, which makes it faster and more economical to ship. When it comes to laser cutting, the unique internal structure of corrugated cardboard means it is fast to cut – and that makes cardboard one of the lowest priced of all the materials in terms of laser cutting time.


5. Brownie Points: Recycled and Recyclable

A lot of people feel good when they use cardboard products. Not only is there a high proportion of recycled content in the cardboard itself, there are systems in place in most urban centers for cardboard recycling that make it one of the easiest materials to reuse, once your own needs for the cardboard product have concluded. So whether it’s the warm fuzzy feeling you get personally or if you’re setting an example for others with a bold ‘eco’ statement, cardboard gives your design a certain credibility that is instantly recognised across the globe.


Cardboard deserves its reputation amongst the most popular materials for laser cutting, being well suited to both laser cutting and laser etching. Thanks to the versatility of cardboard in terms of price, appearance and structural properties, we continue to see designers find new and exciting ways to explore their creativity.

What will you make using cardboard for your next laser cut project? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits (in order of appearance) 
3D Skull, Cardboard Safari; Cardboard, Ponoko Materials; Lady in Fur laser etched cardboard art; Airplane Costume, Aidan Chopra; Thumbs Up, UMBC Prototyping and Design; Laser Cut Rocket, Ponoko; Laser Cut Bin, Ponoko Line Optimisation Guide.

Capture The Kids’ Market With These Toys For Girls

When Laser Cutting Gets Cute

laser cut 4girls heart shaped box justaddsharks

For a market that is all about playtime, the toy industry is a serious business indeed. In the US, spending on dolls alone tops $2.6 billion each year, and sales are on the increase. Through the Ponoko Personal Factory we’ve got one of the most accessible ways to make unique fashion items and toys at our fingertips, and this means you too can laser cut yourself a slice of the toy industry pie.

In this article we are taking a look at how designers and makers are using laser cutting to tap into the ‘toys for girls’ market. First up is a heart-shaped box from Just Add Sharks (pictured above). Ideal for storing keepsakes and sweet whimsies, it is the feature of an Instructables post that shows how you don’t need a multi-million dollar factory to produce desirable products that are just right for this discerning market segment.

laser cut 4girls isabella woodums

Customization is one of the reasons entrepreneurs and designers turn to laser cutting. As we can see with Isabella’s name plaque by Woodums (above), the laser cut and etched ply brings added depth and vibrance to an already playful font.


Knock on Isabella’s door, and chances are high there will be a fantastical land filled with princesses and fairies inside. Etsy seller FoxyFunk knows that every princess needs her crown (above, left). Wearing an actual tiara may not be the fashion-forward statement some young girls are looking to make, but the mirror acrylic crown brooch will sit right with almost any outfit. Fairies are certainly not forgotten and this necklace from CataCakeCreations (above, right) also taps into the huge costume jewellery market.


Perfect for use as pendants, jewellery or even suspended in a mobile, laser cut silhouettes are a fantastic way to engage with these eager consumers. The Alice in Wonderland themed cutouts from EasyCutPrintPD (above, left) are offered as a digital file that can be incorporated into a broader laser cut design or simply sent straight to Ponoko for production in your favorite material. Other silhouettes and figures can be purchased already cut, as with this set of playful characters from Joann (above, right).

Drawing inspiration from Disney classics introduces familiar characters that can be laser cut in the dazzling array of acrylic material options. The Mermaid Pendant from imyourpresent on Etsy (below, left) uses opaque, mirror, pearl and laser etched acrylic to define the form. The precision of laser cutting means that combining materials can be achieved with very neat results. Add a little surface finishing to the process, and you’ve got a recipe for success as YouMakeMeDesign know. Check out their cute 2D Roly Poly Dolls (below, right).


We can’t really talk about toys for girls (and boys too, really) without taking a look at doll houses. A universal favorite, the dolls house captures imaginations and opens the door to immersive worlds of pretend play.  Laser cutting allows for doll houses of every imaginable shape and size; we have collected a few here to show just how diverse they can be.

laser cut 4girls flatpack dollhouse katherinebelsey

Starting elegantly simple, the flat-pack design from Katherine Belsey can very quickly become populated with all you need for a home sweet home. Out of the box (above, left) the house is a classic laser cut raw canvas, and with a little paint and doll house furniture (above, right) it really comes to life.

laser cut 4girls dollhouses karenbensonminiatures

Doll house furniture can also take form through laser cutting. Karen Benson Miniatures (above) have refined this to a fine art, with a range that covers period pieces, modern designs and others that are just plain fun. As with the doll houses themselves, the combination of laser cutting and laser etching will allow for a high level of detail and customization in the form, the surface features and the construction methods used for miniature furniture pieces.

laser cut 4girls dollhouse 3starstudioarts

Parents with an eye for particular design eras will often encourage their kids to follow the same aesthetic sensibility. The retro-modern curves of 3StarStudioArts’ laser cut doll house (above) are continued through to the included furniture, and the whole set becomes a vibrant and stylish pad once bright colors are applied.


In an excellent example of how laser cutting can accurately replicate almost any design style, the period houses from Laser Dollhouses feature an attention to detail (above) that makes for a serious showpiece. This dedication to architectural authenticity is also a feature of the clear acrylic house from Made By Hidden (below, left) that is not actually a toy, but would certainly be loads of fun to play with. In contrast to the geometric rigidity of architectural miniatures, Cartonus’ Fairy Doll House (below, right) invites imaginative play with its smooth curves and large openings.


Doll houses are usually set at a scale to allow for other toys to fit inside, which integrates well with existing collections of toys and figures. Through laser cutting, it can also be a lot of fun to go much, much smaller… the colorful buildings from Moe Miniatures (below, left) have a charm all of their own, and whole dioramas can emerge when you include miniature critters like Megan Baehr’s cute little laser cut lion (below, right).


Make-believe and pretend play is an important part of a child’s daily activities, and whether it’s through miniatures, doll houses or character jewellery; laser cutting gives designers and makers direct access to this lucrative market. By utilising the strengths of laser cutting such as ease of customization, accuracy and diverse material range small companies and independent sellers on Etsy are able to mix it up with the big guys. The added benefits of low cost and rapid design to manufacture process that laser cutting is famous for enables clever makers to move and flow with design trends, further integrating them into the commercial arena.

Are you a toy designer making products for girls? What cool laser cut toy ideas for girls have you seen? Let us know in the comments below!

The 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag: Law 6

Be Different From Competitors. With An Idea For Facebook.


Build verses buy? Whether with software, homes or event swag, there are always concessions when you buy off the shelf. The price may be right, but you sacrifice in other areas—features, colors, theme, availability or overall experience, to name a few.

With a custom build, you can design specifically to your needs, style and image. And in the case of event swag, you can design a product that completely aligns with your brand DNA—making you different from your competition.

And that’s key.

“So many business owners try to figure out how they can be better than the competition—better product, better service, better features and, the real killer, better price. Heck, some even strive to be ‘best’ in class,” says John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, in the article Stop Trying To Be Better Than The Competition. “What they should be doing is figuring out how they can simply be different than the competition.”

Jantsch says to forget spending your precious R&D time on product features. Instead, he says, “Spend it on creating branded intellectual property, a distinct way of marketing, or on developing people and culture inside your organization that enables you to be seen as different.”

Designing Event Swag To Be Different From The Competition

If you’ve put so much time, energy and money into creating differentiation for your products, customer experience, event presence and overall brand, shouldn’t you do the same with the promotional products that represent you?

Here’s a not-so-secret secret: If you’re ordering promotional products from a catalog or online store, those products can be used by anyone—including your competition.

Going with an off-the-shelf solution may be quick, since promotional products selection to support event presence is oftentimes put off until right before the conference, tradeshow or summit. Choosing a catalog item can also be economical since you’re only decorating the product with your logo and not building it from scratch.

But will this separate your brand from competitors?

No. Here’s why:

When you create event swag from the ground up, you can design something cool and meaningful that aligns with your brand DNA and truly speaks to your audience. Additionally, you can tie the items into your overall marketing strategy and the brand story you want to tell.

With that in mind, what would happen if swag was built into the beginning of the event planning process?

To find out, we took on a challenge to design actual product ideas for event giveaways for some of the world’s best tech brands as examples. The goal is to create truly custom promotional products that fit the example brand like a glove by baking in the DNA of the brand + audience + event.

Additionally, the products designed must achieve a measureable marketing goal, be different from every other promotional product at the event (read: be different than the competition), be different from every other promotional product the brand has used at events before, and it must be packable in carry on luggage—because what good is it if recipients can’t take it home with them!

Keep in mind there is no endorsement of any products by the brands represented. We’re simply trying to tell a story of what IS possible by using brands and events that you know and understand. So check this out:

Event Marketing Swag Idea: Facebook Hex Value Color Cards

The Brand: Facebook
The Event: Web Summit – creaTIFF
The Audience: UX Designers
The Marketing Goal: Create brand awareness via repeat product use after the event.


What began as a singular conference, Web Summit is now home to 20+ independent conferences—each with its own stage, schedule, exhibition area, workshops, networking evening events and more.

The creaTIFF conference track unites graphic designers and artists responsible for the design of the world’s top institutions as well as globally recognized packaging, illustrations and products.

If Facebook were participating at creaTIFF and wanted to create swag to appeal to this audience, designer Philip Yip had a great idea: A deck of UX design cards.

Similar in size to a deck of playing cards, each pack contains hex color value cards, persona images, navigation icons, etc. and would include subtle Facebook branding. Yip says the cards’ appeal lies in the tactile way of finding design colors while providing a human and collaborative way of experimenting with different combinations.

“A designer would use the cards any time they’re developing a new interface, or they could simply shuffle for a random color idea,” he explains. “The tactile nature of real cards can enhance creativity by engaging other senses and forcing different types of thought. Subtle branding, high utility and fun of attacking a problem (color selection) from a different context would make a designer continue to use this product.”

By focusing on being different from the competition, Yip found a way to design a product that’s unlike any other. And this is why the idea works.

Being Different Is Good

Duct Tape Marketing’s Jantsch says that instead of trying to be better or exactly like your competitors, build a strategy around a simple way that your company is different from the pack.

“Better than the competition is the enemy of different than the competition, and different is where the money is!” he says. “Creating your own special way to treat customers, creating an experience that’s unique or creating a totally new and frictionless way for people to get a result is how you stand out from the pack. It’s how you create a difference that can’t be easily copied, and it’s how innovation comes to small business.”

So what do you think? When designing swag for event marketers, have you ever talked about specifically designing products that are different from the competition? Would implementing this approach improve the promotional products designed for events?

Let’s get the conversation started. We’d love your feedback and constructive criticism in the comments. Also let us know what promotional products you’ve received that have really made you say “WOW!” Got ideas on what event swag you’ve never seen but would love to receive? Let us know that, too.

Author Mehmet Murat Ildan said, “Be different so that people can see you clearly amongst the crowds.” We believe this applies to event swag too. Because when event attendees leave the venue with their swag bags overflowing, you want your branded merchandise to be the one piece they see, keep, use and absolutely can’t be without.


This is the sixth in a series of 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. For links to each law as they are published, check out the article that started it all: “How To Reinvent Your Event Swag Strategy: 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag.”