Top ten innovative hardware projects of 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Hardware

Since the beginning of history, people have been using tools to reshape their environment while in some sense being reshaped by their tools. Each new age has been defined by a new set of tools, a new type of hardware, from scraping sticks with rocks to cutting out forms with a laser. These are our best hardware articles from 2011.

#10 Stead i Cam: laser cut handheld camera crane

After watching a few minutes of shaky video most people are about ready to claw their eyes out (or turn off the video). Even best and newest super-HD camera with every imaginable feature will produce terrible video if it is not held steady. Unfortunately, commercial camera stabilizers are very expensive. Laser cutting to the rescue.

Top ten open source projects of 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Open Source

The open source movement has come a long way since its beginning with computer software. Now we have open source electronic hardware, digital fabrication machines, and even farming equipment and houses. If it can be made, it can be open sourced. Here are our top ten articles about open source projects from 2011.

#10 Second Generation Open Source Laser Cutter

This is a new and improved version of a laser cutter project organized on Buildlog.Net. It’s compact enough for a desktop and nicely contained in a custom enclosure. All the plans are available for free and kits are also available.

Scientists, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs: five fresh interviews from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Interviews, Thoughts & Opinions

Here’s five of my favourite interviews from 2011: we’re talking printed organs, education, DIY, hobby printing, and the future of connectivity. Kick back and tune in!

3D printing organs

PopTech talks to Dr. Gabor Forgac, founder of Organovo, a company that sells “the world’s only commercial bioprinter proven to create tissue.” (more…)

Ten alluring works of digitally produced art from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011: Art

Take a moment to step back and see the world a little differently with this selection of ten memorable works of art that appeared on the Ponoko blog during 2011.

From unique perspectives on everyday objects to different ways of capturing and expressing movement, join us to explore how artists continue to use digital manufacturing technologies in new and exciting ways.

1. Sculptures made with motion capture, 3D printing and bronze casting

The mesmerising motion of professional dancers and martial artists is captured in this intriguing project by Mathew Schwartz. Data from the sinuous movements is 3D printed before being cast in bronze, giving a unique perspective on human movement that would surely have Muybridge’s nod of approval.


When digital fabrication meets architecture — 10 awesome structures from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Architecture

From open-source buildings and zero-waste designs to scale models and temporary structures, here are ten awesome examples of what can happen when the tools of digital fabrication are in service to the field of architecture.

1. The world’s largest wooden structure

The enormous Metropol Parasol pavilion was erected in Seville, Spain last year. Spanning 230ft wide and 490ft long, the pavilion is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world.


Amazing inventions from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Inventions

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” – Thomas A. Edison

I believe Mr Edision was suggesting that inventions are created when someone’s imagination sees value in something no one else perhaps would. 2011 was certainly an impressive year of bringing physical form to those imaginations.

As the inventions category fit within many of the other categories we’ve featured on Best of the Blog 2011 so far, you can expect to see some familiar favourites…

3D printed panoramic ball camera

The Panoramic ball camera is a playful exploration into novel ways of taking photos. You throw the ball up in the air – at the apex of its throw it takes a photo, or a lot of photos in every direction! Genius, where can I get one?


The ten coolest things done with laser-cutting in 2011!

Best of the Blog 2011 – Laser Cutting

I knew it was going to be tough when I picked the Laser Cutting category to pick the best posts from, but wow – there really were a lot of amazing stories in 2011 to choose from.

These are my favourites from last year, but if you think that I’ve missed a critical project, please mention it in the comments below!

1. The most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet


This is also #1 in my “favourite headlines of 2011” category. Dr. Thomas Modeen used a laser cutter to engineer a perfect food experience, distributing pockets of PB & J into even, calculated bites.

If I am ever a wealthy man, there will be a laser cutter in my kitchen. Be sure to read through to the source for a video of the laser in action!

Read: The most advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet


Ten magnificent materials stories from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Materials

Digital manufacturing techniques like 3d printing, laser cutting, and CNC routing are pretty amazing, but they’re only as good as the materials they use. Thankfully we live in a time where research efforts are bringing out new materials all the time. Here’s a round up of some of the best news in materials in 2011, including some giveaways and special deals.

1. Molding precise parts with Sugru

Sugru is every hacker’s favourite silicone rubber material. Here’s a story on how you can use it mold precise flexible parts like a pro. And hey, get in quick and you can win a multi-colour pack of Sugru to play with.


Ten best Furniture + Lighting designs from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Furniture + Lighting

Digital fabrication is particularly well-suited to making small, highly detailed objects. But as much as we love intricately laser cut jewelry and stunningly complex 3D printed toys, it’s always refreshing to see people push the boundaries of scale and make something bigger. These ten articles from our Furniture + Lighting category are about the bigger things.

#10 Jewel-inspired CNC Cut Furniture

NY designers thefuturefuture were one of the early adopters of the CNC routing service available through Personal Factory. This flat-pack end table was their first experiment. The article includes an interview about the experience.

Eight playful Toys & Games from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Toys & Games

Playful creativity is often a key ingredient when DIY makers challenge conventions, pushing the boundaries of both traditional and emerging technologies. Some designs reference toy nostalgia from days gone by, while others give an entirely new face to toys – with results quite unlike anything that has come before.

Continue reading for some seriously fun highlights from Toys & Games in 2011.

1. CNC controlled Etch-a-Sketch

Using the wizardry of 3d printing and a little DIY CNC programming, Ben Jackson from Portland, Oregon technified his Etch-a-Sketch. The whole process is thoroughly documented on Thingiverse, paving the way for others to bring their own Etch-a-Sketch well and truly into the 21st century.