Designing FAQs

How do I make my design ready for Ponoko?

You'll need to download the starter kit to to find out everything you need to make your design ready.

What size restrictions are there?

You need to work within our templates. The largest size possible is 31.1 inches by 15.1 inches (790mm x 384mm). The templates can be downloaded from our 2D Design starter kits.

What software can I use to create my design?

You need to use vector art software such as Adobe Illustrator CS®, Macromedia Freehand MX®, Inkscape or CorelDraw X3®. If you are experienced with 3D modelling software you may want to use Solidworks or AutoCAD, and then use vector art software to create your product parts. Remember, whichever software you use to create your design, you'll need to transfer it to one of our templates before you upload it to My Ponoko.

Why do I need to transfer my design to the Ponoko templates?

The Ponoko templates are there to help you make Ponoko-ready .eps or .svg files. The templates are already formatted so they are the correct size, contain the 'safe' cutting area and have the correct color mode for our laser-cutter.

Do I HAVE to use the Ponoko templates?

No, if you're using .eps files, but we recommend you do. Yes, if you're using .svg files. We created them so that you don't have to set up the correct size, safe 'cutting area' and color mode each time you create a design file for Ponoko.

What software are the Ponoko templates compatible with?

We've made templates for Adobe Illustrator CS®, Macromedia Freehand MX®, Inkscape or CorelDraw X3®. You can download them from here. Please let us know if you would like to use other software to create your .eps or .svg files.

So why aren't the templates .eps files?

Unfortunately, one size does not fit all when it comes to .eps files! Although we would dearly love it if all vector art software treated .eps files the same, they just don't!

We hope to find a long-term solution soon, but right now, the problem is this. When you open an .eps file in Adobe Illustrator CS®, Macromedia Freehand MX®, Inkscape or CorelDraw X3®, it converts the .eps to another format. Even worse, if you make changes and save it - while it may look like it has saved as an .eps file - it actually saves over the .eps in a new format. If this happens, you're likely to get into real trouble when you try and upload it to MyPonoko. MyPonoko will give you an error message.

We had to make a trade-off in order to provide you with templates that work in the vector art software you use. You get templates that work in the software you work in, but we have to rely on you to follow the design steps to make sure your .eps file will upload properly.

If you want to use .svg, those templates are .svg files.

Why can I only upload .eps or .svg files?

We have chosen to use .eps files because they have a greater degree of accuracy than other file formats. This means you have greater control over your design.

We have chosen to use .svg files because it is a file format that is widely supported by both web broswers and vector drawing software.

We are currently investigating how to accept other file formats.

What do I do if I don't use any vector art software?

You'll need to find a digital buddy to help you out. If at a loss, go ask on the Ponoko Forum.

What can I do to minimize the cost of making my design?

Check out the design tips in mingle & share.

Can I expect my design to be right first time?

It's unlikely you'll create a perfect product straight away. It usually takes a prototype or two to get your design right. After a couple of tries, you'll know the design process and start designing for certain kinds of materials and projects. In the meantime, it's a good plan to look at the making steps we recommend you take to make your design perfect.

How do I add my design to Ponoko?

Once you've read the making guide and transferred your design to the templates, you're ready to upload your design files to Ponoko. My Ponoko account or log in. Once you've signed up (or logged in), just follow your nose...

What's the difference between a product plan and a product?

An .eps or .svg file is the plan of the product part(s) needed to make your finished product. A product - on the other hand - is the physical object that you (or another person) assembles from the cut parts you receive from Ponoko. Your table becomes a product once you've put together or glued all its parts.

Can I design stuff with other people?

Yes. Ponoko doesn't aim to get in the way of your design process. You are able to collaborate with whomever you need to get your design completed.

Can I make my design cheaper to make?

The cost is determined by 3 things:

  • The material you've chosen
  • The thickness of material
  • The complexity of your designs

The laser cuts materials at a range of speeds and as a rule it takes longer to cut thicker materials. The laser is also faster at cutting straight lines than it is at cutting curves. As a general rule of thumb, the more lines your design has, the more it will cost to make.

When you add the materials to your design files in My Ponoko, you'll get an instant price for how much it will cost to cut out. If you need to, you can then go back and refine your design files and upload them again. Check out the making tips and tricks for tips on how to economize your design.

Can I design an object that is more expensive than I can afford to prototype? And if I could, would I still be able to sell it through Ponoko if I provided a high-quality render or drawing of the object?

Good question! Ponoko offers the facility for you to make money simply by selling designs. You can upload your design files and images and sell your designs. You don't need to make the finished product to sell your design files. But if you don't and you skip the prototype step, you run the risk of selling designs that cannot be made successfully.

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