Join us at the Wellington office ‘early Christmas’ meetup

Kia ora! We’re hosting an early Christmas meetup at our New Zealand office. If you’ve never made anything with us before and are keen to learn all about how Ponoko works, then we’d love you to join us.

Wednesday November 2nd, 6.30pm – 8pm
Ponoko NZ Office
Level 1
27 Dixon Street

This is an opportunity for people in the Wellington region to have any questions you might have answered in person. We’ve asked some Wellington-based makers to come and talk about projects they’ve made with Ponoko Personal Factory, and they’ll bring along their finished designs to look at.

The theme for our November meetup will be ‘Holiday Making’ – decoration ideas for Christmas, as well as great ideas for Personal Factory-made presents for your friends and family. We’re holding it at the beginning of November, so that there’s time for you to create a design and place an order, all in time for Christmas.

You can check out our new material samples, and be inspired by a range of designs on display. If you want to bring along a flat material sample that you would like to have laser cut, e.g. a piece of silk fabric, and if we’re able to cut it, then we’ll give it a whirl. You’ll also be able to see the laser in operation, and watch as it works its magic on some custom-made Christmas decorations.

Places will be limited, so please RSVP if you’d like to come along .

Hope to see you there!

Meet the peeps at Ponoko: Catherine Field-Dodgson, community support manager

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the wonderful Ms. Catherine here on the blog. We highlighted a few words of Catherine praise in a post called Ponoko Custom(er) Love, and now we can all get to know her a bit better.

• Where are you from, and where do you live now?
I live in Wellington, New Zealand but am originally from Whanganui.

• What do you do at Ponoko?
I’m one of the support team members who assists Ponoko’s customers with any questions they have. I occasionally tweet, answer questions on the forums, write blog posts about Ponoko-related events in Wellington and help to arrange meetups in Wellington for people who are interested in making things with us.

I’m reasonably new to the world of digital fabrication (I have a Masters degree in art history and was formerly a government press secretary), so I find it useful to draw on my own experiences as a maker with Ponoko. I’m able to help fellow Ponoko makers with their first-time projects and offer advice and useful tips.

• If you weren’t doing this, what else do you think you’d do?
Travelling around the world with my partner & our four-year-old — he wants to go to Madagascar! Either that or work with food in some capacity.

• Tell us:
– someone you admire:
I have a serious crush on Sam Bompas and Henry Parr, the jellymongers.

– some place you like going:
You can often find me at Cultured Petone eating icecream & cheese.

– something you love to do:
Plant things in my vegetable garden and make jam!

P.S. The chicken’s name is Penny : )

Meet more peeps at Ponoko.

Wellington Makers Meetup

#wellmade in Wellington

On Wednesday night, we hosted the first-ever ‘Wellington Makers Meetup’ in our Wellington office. Aimed at people who are interested in all aspects of digital fabrication, the first Makers Meetup brought together a diverse group of people who are passionate about making, creating and learning.

Our co-founder Dave ten Have gave a brief speech that covered the history of different fabrication techniques, noting that we are currently enjoying a special moment in the history of ‘making’ – we’re sitting at the tipping point of new technologies, and it is possible for virtually anyone to jump online and find the resources needed to make products, designs, and electronic components. He cited a fascinating example of a friend of his using a laser-cut leather holster, arduino components and some internet-sourced lines of code to create a ‘foaling alarm’ for a pregnant mare on his farm.

The meetup then paused to examine the range of Ponoko materials on display and chat to one another, before gathering to listen to Dave Keyes talk about his recent Rocktober trophies project.

We were delighted to be able to give NZ-themed Ponoko-made Christmas decorations to everyone that attended, and our Fabricator, Yana, even laser-cut some beautiful snowflake patterns onto icing for cupcakes!

We were also struck by the energy and excitement of everyone present. Many people talked about their projects with us and discussed the various digital technologies that their children were interested in. Future meetups were discussed, and the possibility of a workshop in vector-based drawing looks to be promising as a future event.

Thank you to Richard Fortune for organising this new meetup – we will continue to attend and watch the development of the Wellington Makers with much interest. You can join the Wellington Makers group here, follow them on twitter @makermeetup, and use the hashtag #wellmade.

If you’re interested in hosting your own Ponoko meetup, be sure to let us know via the website – we’ll be happy to help!

Wellington Makers Meetup

Kia ora! We’re excited to be hosting the first Wellington Makers Meetup at our New Zealand offices, and would love you to join us.

Wednesday November 10th, 6.30pm – 8pm

Ponoko NZ Office
Level 1
27 Dixon Street


This new meetup group in the windy city is dedicated to digital fabrication and digital making, which as you know is what we at Ponoko are all about.

If you are interested in making extraordinary things, then come along! This is also an opportunity for people in the Wellington region to meet other makers and Ponoko creators, and have any questions you might have answered in person.

The theme for our November meetup will be ‘Holiday Making’ – decoration ideas for Christmas, as well as great ideas for Ponoko-made presents for your friends and family.

Our co-founder and CEO Dave ten Have will speak, as will Richard Fortune and Dave Keyes, who have both made with Ponoko before and are keen to share their experiences.

You can examine our material samples, be inspired by ideas of custom awesomeness that you can impress others with, and we’ll be happy to give feedback on any designs you’re working on. You can also check out the laser in operation, and watch as it works its magic on some custom-made Christmas decorations.

Bring along a Christmas decoration in EPS format, drop your name in the box and you could be in to win a $50 Ponoko voucher! We’ll draw the winning design at the end of the night.

If there’s anything in particular you’d love to see at this meetup or future ones, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Hope to see you there!

Dedicated customer service

We love hearing from you

Here at Ponoko we love to help interesting people make extraordinary things. We’re extremely passionate about our community and, as Kristen noted a few weeks back, we strive to achieve individual attention in terms of our dedicated customer service.

When we receive positive feedback, it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, but also drives us to keep lifting the bar for high-level customer service. We know we’re on the right track when our community members turn their ideas into amazing creations they can hold in their hands – and then turn around and share photos of them with us.

We aim to respond to emails within 24 hours, because we like to help people out as quickly as possible. We use Facebook, Twitter and Skype to address issues that might be popping up, and also to share the amazing photos and stories from our creative community. We also love meeting our customers – our meetups not only provide an opportunity for questions to be answered in person, but they help us engage with our community face-to-face.

So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We enjoy meeting with, talking to, tweeting, emailing, skyping, and being inspired by our customers. Your photos of your finished creations make us smile, while your questions and comments help us to become better at what we do. Please keep them coming!

Where the wild things were

Over the past three weeks, a number of scary fellows were spotted lurking in the basement of the MyGalaxi Gallery on Dixon Street in Wellington, New Zealand.

Curated by the Run Amuck Collective, the ‘Monsters’ exhibition comprised a fantastic mix of sculpted, painted, printed, installed and electrified monsters.

I was delighted to discover some Ponoko-cut monsters amongst the assorted beasties, created by the very talented Ruth Korver. Ruth’s artworks included some beautifully hand-painted monsters made on 3mm Bamboo and assembled as little dioramas.


To those who rocked: we salute you

One of the loudest, celebratory rock phenomenons hit Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday 1 October. ‘Rocktober’ is a dress up and rock up musical event that celebrates black t-shirts and all things that rock, in the spirit of “Wayne’s World and Spinal Tap”.

A few staff members from Ponoko went along and revelled in a night of ACDC, Iron Maiden, Metallica and the like played by the talented Golden Axes, followed by a hot crew of DJs.

One of the founders of Rocktober used Ponoko to make the trophies for this rocking event: mini black axes, on 6mm black acrylic, with some wonderfully detailed engraving. These were dished out to the best costumes, air guitarists and moshers of the night and went down a treat.

Keeping it local, and proving that rock can also help others, all the profits from tickets and merchandise will go to the Wellington division of the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

Thanks to the crew behind Rocktober for such an entertaining night. Rock on!

(Photo credits: WeDo Photography and Mr. Dave Keyes.)

Solar surge: iPhone fully loaded

Rob Scott is based in Seattle and recently made a design that caught our eye here at Ponoko: a solar USB charger for an iPhone. We completely agree with Rob when he says: “It actually turned out prettier that I thought it would – the crystalline structure of the solar cells is nice to see in the sun.”

Why did you choose to use to ‘make with’ Ponoko?

I saw the contest announcement on Sparkfun‘s website, and that lead me to Ponoko. I’d previously used TAP Plastics, but wanted to see what other companies offered. After looking at Ponoko, I thought that the capabilities offered by Ponko could make my design more robust.

What type of product(s) did you make with Ponoko, and what was it for?

A solar USB charger, for use with my son’s iPhone and other devices. He, (and my wife),  joined me for Cascade Bike Club’s Ride Around Washington, which is a week-long bike trip, and it was important for him to have his phone charged so that he could stay in contact with us. I’d built a similar device for myself last year, which is what my wife and I used to keep our phones charged.

The solar array generates approximately 13 volts at 220 milliamps, for a total of 2.86 watts. This is stepped down by a Dimension Engineering switching regulator to 5 volts for use by the USB device, and should deliver about 500 milliamps to the USB device.  A resistor network, based on the schematic from Lady Ada’s Minty Boost, is connected to the USB data +/- pins to tell the USB device that a charger is sending current. (At least for iPhones running iOS earlier than version 4).

How would you describe your creative process?

I used the Inkscape tutorial and templates from Ponoko’s website, and threw away my first three tries. Trying to be too clever really doesn’t pay off on your first project!  I spent way too much time trying to optimize the use of the non-project part of the panel for other uses.

What material/s do you use/ have you used and why?

I used acrylic, mostly because I’ve used it before and am familiar with it.  It’s easy to drill and glue.

Have you been surprised by anything in the Ponoko process: positives/negatives?

One of my attempts to be clever backfired. The height of the regulator used to step down the solar panel’s output was too tall to be accommodated by the width of the acrylic sheet, so I decided to use heavy engraving to route out a cavity in the top and bottom panels. Unfortunately, I forgot to change the cavity outline from cut to engrave color, so imagine my surprise when I opened the Ponoko box and two neatly engraved rectangles dropped out from the panels!  Fortunately, I had a couple of pieces of scrap acrylic that I was able to use to fix the problem, but it did compromise the water resistance of the design.

I was very pleased that my order was able to be delivered just in time for the project to be completed. It arrived at about 4:00 pm, and I was able to finish the project and still pack before the trip started the next day. I was pleased the first time my son plugged in his phone and it actually began charging! (Though a friend’s iPhone, who’d upgraded to iOS 4, complained that it was an “unsupported” charger, and refused to charge).

The overall accuracy of the cutting process lead to a well made project when it was completed.

Also impressive was the attention paid by Ponoko to my design. Apparently Inkscape can introduce a 25% scaling factor, which was caught and fixed by Ponoko.

I was also unclear about the orange safety zone in the template. I attempted to use what I thought was the edge of the panel to reduce cutting, but the safety zone edge is actually not the edge of the panel.

Do you have any tips for other users?

Work in millimeters, and always snap lines to grids. I like a 1 x 1 mm grid, personally.

Check and double check measurements and calculations. I almost made an enclosure that was too small!

Use the tutorials and blog entries. Finding out how to eliminate overlapping lines in Inkscape was much easier than trying to use constructive geometry to accomplish the same goal.

Ponoko at Craft 2.0

This weekend saw the advent of another Craft 2.0 in Wellington – the region’s biggest cult craft fair, and one that Ponoko has been involved in since its inception in 2007.

Craft 2.0 continues to grow from strength-to-strength, and draws large and excited crowds who flock to buy unique crafts and handmade artisan pieces.

This year, the works of two prominent Ponoko users were highly visible: Sue Tyler (pictured on the left), who actually runs the fair, and Chromatophobic (on the right), whose stunning black, white and red designs stood out from the other displays.

Sue’s ‘Supervery’ jewellery range is made exclusively using Ponoko, and her new line of tree pendants rendered in acrylic and bamboo were extremely popular with the crowds.

Chromatophobic’s range included limited edition brooches, pendants, shirt buttons and also “dude friendly cufflinks”. I particularly liked the felt snowflakes on display, and the sweet, yet simultaneously dire little Grimlie characters!

It was great to meet some of the crafters who use Ponoko, and see their creations laid out at Craft 2.0 – it’s a wonderful creative event and a perfect partnership for NZ-based Ponoko users. We look forward to seeing what will be on display at the next one!