Meetup recap: Talking prototyping and Kickstarter

November Bay Area Ponoko Meetup RecapStarting this past November, we have established a new format for Ponoko Bay Area Meetups. After relaxed conversation over drinks and nibbles we then kick into 4 short presentations on a theme.

November’s meetup was centered around prototyping, and as we were fortunate to have two speakers with hugely successful Kickstarter campaigns, the discussions looked into that as well.

I kicked off proceedings by discussing the prototyping process for my recent Rocket Ship Project – which you’re welcome to download all of the files for and make or elaborate upon yourself.

Ryo Chijiiwa told the story of how he designed and prototyped a small solar charger device, which he then put up on Kickstarter, where he raised over $30,000 for his first production run of the product. You can read more about his project and purchase one of his solar chargers at

Shandy Brown was next, passing around some of the exquisitely engraved hexes from his Boardcrafting project. He talked about the process behind developing the initial idea, developing the final design and then also having wild success raising funds on Kickstarter to optimize the product and begin shipping it – raising over $44,000.

Finally, Josh Reuss presented a wide variety of prototypes for the Sunburst Clock project he is currently working on. He talked about the key considerations necessary when approaching a product idea and his process for developing, refining and perfecting a design. I myself was so taken with his clocks I’ve now got one in my kitchen.

Our next Ponoko Bay Area Meetup will be held in February, and will focus on maker businesses and creative entrepreneurship – the challenges and rewards of making and selling products yourself. We’ve got two super exciting speakers already lined up, and are still looking for a couple more. If you’d like to join us, RSVP now! If you’re interested in speaking, please be sure and get in touch with us.

If you’re interested in hosting a Ponoko-supported meetup in your own city or town – register your interest on our Ponoko Meetup Everywhere page. If you work out a date and location, we’ll be happy to assist you in promoting the maker gathering and making it a successful event!

Host your own Ponoko meetup!

Ponoko Meetups EverywhereYou’ve probably heard about the regular meetups we here at Ponoko have been running in San Francisco, CA and Wellington, NZ. Up until now you’ve had to make it to those places in order to join in with us.

Well, now we’d like to empower digital fabrication enthusiasts anywhere in the world to organize your own Ponoko meetup – and we’re taking the first steps in doing so.

Check out our Ponoko Meetups Everywhere page.

That’s the place to start if you’re interested in meeting up with other makers, discussing current and future projects and even finding collaborators.

See if someone has created a listing for your town or city – if they have, chip in and lend your voice. If they haven’t, create one yourself and then see who else might be keen.

Once it looks like you’re reaching critical mass, contact us with what you’re planning and when you’re looking at running the meetup. We’re currently working out some packs that we can send out to you to help make it a successful and engaging gathering.

Want to discuss tips and ideas for meetups? Join in on our forum thread.

Why 2D plus 3D excites us so much

and the origins of Dan’s Exclamation LampPonoko Personal Factory 4 opens up a new world of possibilities by combining more than one digital fabrication method as well as open source electronics.

Dan’s Exclamation Lamp on our home page is a fantastic example of this fusion, and we cannot wait to see what other designers will do with it.

We talked with Dan about how his lamp design came about, and why it is such an ambassador for the combining of fabbing methods:

Each fabrication method has its own strengths and weaknesses.
You can make a lamp using only laser cutting, but you are constrained by having to try and interconnect flat materials. You can make a lamp using only 3D printing, but you are limited in the material charactaristics available to you and the cost may be prohibitive.
Combining the two gives you the best aspects of both techniques.


Christmas Order Deadline: Sunday November 28th!

Get in early and don’t be disappointed

With just over two months to go until the Christmas holiday, it’s time to start thinking about custom-made gifts for friends and family – and even the possibility of making and selling an awesome holiday product.As such, if you are planning on making with Ponoko for your gifts, we need to have your order in by midnight on Sunday November 28th US Pacific Time … that is:

11:59pm Sunday November 28th US PT

2:59am Monday November 29th US ET

7:59am Monday November 29th GMT

6:59pm Monday November 29th AU PT

8:59pm Monday November 29th NZT

This should ensure there’s enough time to order in your materials, make your designs and ship them for you to wrap and give to your friends & loved ones.

Naturally we’ll be getting your goodies shipped as quickly as we can – but any order after this time will likely miss out on delivery before Christmas day.

Should you run out of time, you could always consider a Ponoko Gift Voucher.

If you’re seeking advice on creating custom-made gifts through Ponoko, connect with us and the rest of the community through our Forums, Twitter or Facebook Page. Cheers!

‘Clean Up’ your paths in Illustrator & upload easier

Remove hidden problems in an instant.

This short post will show you how to avoid one of the most common design file problems Ponoko creators encounter. The image above shows two halves of the same file, viewed in two ways.

In View > Preview mode it appears fine, with all of the visible elements formatted correctly. In View > Outline mode, however, suddenly we can see a number of hidden points – which appear as Xs.

How to combine shapes in Illustrator for laser cutting with Ponoko

The right way, and the wrong way

In this short tutorial, I’ll show you how to combine shapes in Illustrator to create single vector objects for laser cutting with Ponoko.

Below is a transcript of the video:


Remove Double-Lines in Inkscape

Saving yourself making time and cost

As many of you will know, you can save making time and cost by placing the pieces you want to cut directly side-by-side. This way the two pieces can share a cutting line between them – effectively cutting two sides in one stroke.

The trick to making this work, however, is the removal of the unneeded extra line. When you first place the objects directly side by side, you should be able to see the shared line as being a darker blue to the others – at this point it’s a double line – one blue line directly on top of the other.

Removing this extra line in Illustrator is straightforward, but in Inkscape it’s a bit more complex:

Before you begin: Select All and use the Path > Object to Path command.

Step 1: Select the Edit Paths by Nodes tool.


Pricing designs and choosing materials

A step-by-step guide

Use this step-by-step guide to help you price your designs, change materials and reorder files you’ve made before.

Adding and changing materials

Here’s what to do if you want to make, say,  one design file from two materials.

1. Add your first design file. Here’s the screen you’ll see.One file added.2. Click ‘Add another .eps file’ (or ‘Add another .svg file’).


Get a price for your designs even faster

with our new material choosing systemOne material addedExciting times! We’ve improved the way you edit and choose materials for your designs on Ponoko. These changes will make it even easier to price designs, swap materials and reorder files you’ve made before. (more…)

How long will USA orders take to ship?

With help from a handy-dandy UPS map…

I just wanted to share with you this map we’ve been provided from UPS:
Shipping Time USA

If you’re a USA-based Ponoko user uncertain of the usual shipping time for your orders, this is probably the easiest reference to help.

We’ve certainly been referring to it – now you can too. =)

See full details of our making and delivery timeframes.