From design idea to perfect product in 2 minutes and 57 seconds!

If you want to join the hottest business trend to hit the web – check this out.

Cited as one of the top 8 consumer trends for 2008, Generation C’s MIY (Make-it-Yourself) movement has been called a variety of things from the rise of the Instapreneur to Customer Made, Prosumerism, Web 3.0, and of course Bits to Atoms.

When WIRED Magazine covered Ponoko recently, they said it all – the digital economy isn’t just digital any more; the same market forces that allowed musicians to make a living distributing their songs online now give designers, makers, crafters, hackers and artists the chance to sell their wares without having to persuade a manufacturer or retailer to carry them. And best of all they can make precision goods with a mouse click, zero money down and no minimum orders. Oh how things have changed!

But just how easy is it … really?

The Ponoko team represents the makeup of our community pretty well. While we have one product design guru, the nearest the rest of us had got to making something was with LEGO! Until we created Ponoko.

The major frustration for anyone who wants to make something is just where to start! Most of us have never even considered making something – the entry barrier has just been way too high.

Sure, you can head on down to the local supplies store and pull something together – but it lacks accuracy and consistency between multiple items when it comes to making a few more for loved ones or business gifts, or lots more of your hot sellers. It’s kinda tough going and very time consuming. And if you’re selling them, the profit margins don’t improve with volume – which is all a bit sad.

You could try finding a friendly manufacturer, but good luck with that. They have a serious business to run and unless you can commit to a minimum order, then forget about it.

This is where Ponoko comes in – the world’s only place where you can shop for designer crafted goods, made and sold online.

So the question again – how easy is this?

Well, let’s take a look at how John took literally 2 minutes and 57 seconds to get 10 individual items of jewelry made for $2.20 each:

Watch the larger version here

So what’s holding you back?

The easiest thing to do is download this design file for free and make it for yourself, as many times as you like.

You can also get creative and make your dream product from scratch.

When you’ve decided on your design, just follow the quick process in the video and you’re done!

So tell us, when you compare this with your other making options, have we made it super simple for you to get something precision made for real that is completely unique to you?

We really want to know about your making (war) stories … Just hit the little ‘comments’ button directly below right now, type in a quick response, and then press “Submit Comment” button.

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Video just stops at the ‘login’ part for me…I’m sure there’s much more to it:)

So what’s holding you back?

I think for NON-GEARHEADS there is BIG disconnect between their IDEA and making it VECTOR. For some people that’s easier said than done.

There are a few concepts one needs to understand before using a fine service like Ponoko.


• What is a vector and how to create one.

• Translating your idea into Cutting, etching, fills,

• Pre-visualing, How your idea will look on a material

• Material strength.

Pages like this are a great start:

If a customer had the option of contacting a designer/consultant for custom vector conversion/creation, I think that would translate into more orders.

For example someone would have an idea for earrings. They have an idea and a sketch, but don’t have the know how or patience translating their concept to vector. A consultant/designer would bridge the gap between their idea an EPS. Most importantly and EPS that will cut right.

If there’s too many question marks over someone’s head they’ll think it’s too hard and move on.

With that said I’d like to volunteer my services/skills as a consultant 😛

I LOVE Ponoko!


I think the title of your video is a little bit cheeky… it’s one thing to use a pre-existing design, and a whole other ball-game to create a design from scratch, for all the reasons that NB mentioned.

I think Ponoko is the coolest idea to hit planet-earth in the last 5 years, but it’s mostly geared towards making small things (arts & craft) by virtue of the materials, shipping constraints and assembly methods. That’s not where my interests lies at the moment, but that could change.

One thing that I’d love to see, and I don’t know if it’s feasable, is an assembly solution that can be incorporated into the design. This would enbale us to design products and ship directly from you to the customer without having to rely on glue or tolerances to assemble the product. Again, not really an issue for small arts and crafts…

I love the concept and think the site is great!

I submitted my first design to be made a couple of days ago. I spent I while adding my design as I wasn’t sure it had recognised that I wanted two sheets of the same design cut. Do you add 2 .eps? or 2 sheets of material? or on the dialogue “how many would you like to make = quantity 2”? Am I the only one who’s confused? The rest of the process was easy. Now I’m waiting with anticipation to see the end result – though Ponoko does not give you an estimate of how long this is going to take; a week, a month, longer??

On another note – I would like to change my email address. How can I do that?

Anyway – I know its a work-in-progress with getting the processes right. And its 90% of the way there!

Good video, ticks all the boxes. It’s clear you guys are excited about what you do and that you make things easy. I would agree with above that most time is not in the carrying out of the making, it’s the prework, the designing itself and getting it properly ‘vectorised’. So from Vectory to Victory would be a good one 🙂

I love what you guys do, it’s awesome, it works but yes members have to be willing to get their heads around the first few goes an then they’re away! One has to put SOME effort in, even trademe is simple but the first time we used it we had to see how things worked.
So: great stuff guys. Good on ya. Keep it up.

I can’t say I ever had any horror stories regarding getting things made – if you are familiar with the technologies involved, Ponoko is incredibly easy to use. If there is a design flaw, the fault lies squarely on the designer, not on Ponoko.

Not everybody can understand how to make a 3D object out of a 2D drawing. This can be taught to a certain extent but if the mental skill-set isn’t there along with the necessary software, short of hiring a consultant to design for them, they aren’t going to be designing anything on Ponoko. Luckily for these people, Ponoko has a thriving community so they are bound to find something to their interests.

Jon – Create Unique Memories

Oh ya, video is great – Ponoko’s job isn’t to teach people how to make Vector files nor to help people design stuff but to cut what is provided to them. The fact that they do help people is great and the marketplace is a bonus as well. As such, the video covers all the bases!

Jon – Create Unique Memories


Well, your post inspired me to take the leap and start designing myself! While it’s taken me considerably longer than 2 minutes 57 seconds (and still counting), I think I’m finally getting the hang of it and hope to upload my first design soon!

One thing – the indestructibles are great, but is there and better quality video? It’s hard to see all the buttons that you click on and use in inkscape!

Comments are closed.