My experience with Ponoko (Part 2 – Reality)

April 16th, 2008

Some stories are best told through pictures:

The flat box:
I guess this is unboxing porn.

6mm Italian Poplar. It’s got some kind of adhesive on it for protection.

But does it fit together?

Receiving package to putting final product to use? 10 minutes:


All of the pieces fit snugly and no glue or extra fastening is needed – just like I hoped. It isn’t obvious from the photos but there is one piece that doesn’t fit correctly. It’s the 3rd support beam that should be in rear. I miscalculated the depth of the groove. No biggie – it is the least important piece.


Overall I’m very impressed. It’s extremely sturdy, looks cool (vaguely like an elephant), and smells like a camp fire. I was hoping the keyboard (not pictured) would create a little more space while stowed, but that’s the way it goes.

updated 01/09: new thoughts on this post: it’s been a year and I’m still using this stand!

My experience with Ponoko (part 1 Digital)

April 16th, 2008

Ponoko produces cut materials for you of whatever design you can imagine that can be made from thin and flat pieces. You design in a vector-based drawing program (ie. Illustrator), upload it to Ponoko, choose a material (basic woods and plastics), and they cut out your design with a frikkin laser. Then they mail you the pieces and you hope it fits together.

Most examples so far on their site are junky plastic necklaces, but there are a few clever lamps and a laptop stand. Laptop stand! Good idea.

First I made some sketches on paper – nothing fancy:
sketches with toe
(I kind of liked the elephant idea)

Then I took some measurements of my laptop (Dell Inspiron 9300), downloaded Inkscape, an open-source alternative to Adobe Illustrator, and started working it out.
An early attempt:

Still elephanty at this point. Once I got the rulers, grids, and snapping working correctly in Inkscape, it wasn’t too difficult. The hardest part is imagining how it’s all going to fit together. A decision I made along the way was not have the design require any separate fastening or glue, which means all the components need to fit snugly and securely.

Before uploading to Ponoko, your design needs to be in EPS format. Here’s the final design:

final design

It took about a week (evenings) of trial and error to complete.

I am currently waiting for Ponoko to cut my design and send it to me. I chose the .6mm Italian Poplar for the material. Hopefully I didn’t overlook any catastrophic design flaws and blow 70 bucks.

7 days a week mail delivery

April 5th, 2008

The United States Postal Service should deliver mail on Sundays. Give me a break.

updated 01/09: new thoughts on this post: so true.