How do you design for a laser-cutter? We ask our design guru Dan Emery for his top 5 tips...
Tip 1. Download the starter kit
Want a quick overview of the design process? Download the starter kit which includes our 'making guide' and the templates you'll need to upload your finished design to My Ponoko. The making guide covers information specific to designing for laser-cutting technology.
Tip 2. Working with wood? Use 'nodes'
When working with wood, you may need to add sacrificial 'nodes' onto your parts to allow for variations in material thickness. These are little bumps located in the slots or holes of your product that can compress when it's assembled to create a snug fit. The bumps only need to be small, about 0.2mm, although, again, this is something that needs to be prototyped to be fully resolved. The starter kit covers nodes in more detail.
Tip 3. Drawing up two parts
Need two parts? You may be able to separate them with a single cutting line. Time is money when it comes to laser-cutting, so separating two parts with a single line will help keep your costs to a minimum.
Tip 4. Join all your paths
The laser-cutter follows the cutting line you create exactly. If you want a shape to be cut out, you need to make sure the path meets and there are no gaps. Set your line (stroke) thickness to 0.001mm and the color to R:0 G:0 B:255.
Tip 5. Have some fun!
The first time you make with Ponoko, it's unlikely your design turn out perfectly. So when starting out, keep your ideas simple and small. That way, you can learn how the laser-cutter works and experiment at the same time.