Ponoko : First attempt

Well that went quite well I think.

Attempting to make a set of Golden-Mean Calipers a bit like this:


Which seems reasonable enough etc. So.

1) Need to learn how to use Inkscape. No worries, lots of tutorials etc, and I needed to get away from software that won’t run on linux in any case. Inkscape does. It doesn’t save as gif or jpg though, which means I can’t use it for what I need to use it for 99% of the time.

2) Get my head around Ponoko’s colouring conventions… ok, a few questions there – so I went to the forums and got replies within 24 hours or so. Looks like they’ve got someone replying to forum messages once a day.

3) Upload the thing, see how we go.

Now, I did have a bit of a grumble on the forums about how you can’t actually tell how much it’s going to cost before you go through a long drawn out process. As they need to calculate the cutting time, I thought… ok, maybe fair enough.

To cut a bit of a long story short though, here’s a couple of charges here:

NB: If you are considering using this design… please don’t. Someone has complained that this design is too close to theirs… and besides, this design has a couple of flaws – that have been fixed in a better design, here.

Design 1


Design 2


If you do decide you want to buy some of these (they are the most elegant design I think, and there has been a fair bit of trialling and erroring done… my designs here are different from the holyholo ones in that they’re a bit weak) – please visit this site – www.holyholo.com

The orange bit is the box that they supply to make sure you fit everything in the available space – this one is the smallest possible space etc – 18×18 cm. The drawings are blue so the laser knows where to cut. Black is for engraving etc. You shrink your lines down to .03 of a mm, which means they’re so light you can hardly see them. You get used to it etc.


Design 1 Clear Perspex Design 2 Clear Perspex Design 1 Brass Design 2 Brass
Making 4.37 20.57 16.37 77.20
Materials 1.60 1.60 60.39 60.39
Total 5.97 22.17 76.76 137.59

All in US dollars.

There are a load of different materials, but I want these to be brass so I made a plastic one for prototyping, and a brass one just to check the costs… which means 60 US$ for a 18×18 square of brass. When you buy a bit, you buy the whole piece then throw the offcuts away. They don’t recycle.

The “making” cost is the time the laser beam sits on the page… which is pretty linear by the looks – and quite possibly, a completely arbitrary number. I wonder what it’s based on. Electricity use?

Anyway, if I cram as many of these things in as I can, it comes to about 5… which means comes to 27 US$ each… which is about $50NZ each, which is about double what you could retail them for I think.

Okay… proceed to checkout… add 2% sales tax because I’m in NZ… the postage…

… $10… what? NZ? No… it’s $19 NZ.

Right. Ok. That’s seriously taking the piss isn’t it? I’ve read people from overseas bitching about the postage costs in the forums. You can buy calipers – proper big steel ones with an LCD read out on trademe (which is a bit like ebay) and the postage is $5.90.

So there you go.

Nice idea, but my bet is if the model works, then Ponoko are going to be completely blind-sided by a US/EU operation that does the same thing, but who recycles their offcuts and who don’t take the piss with postage.

Then in about 3-5 years, laser cutters are going to become cheap enough that your local print shop (or something) will have them, knocking out the postage costs altogether.

3 Comments » for Ponoko : First attempt
  1. admin says:

    recap : 17th : they just sent me an email saying they’ve ordered the materials and are waiting for them to arrive. “Just in time” Inventory working there then.

  2. admin says:

    recap : 20th : they just sent me an email saying they’ve received the materials. We’re talking about an 18cm sq piece of perspex here, about 20% of which is used… these guys really need to keep a load of materials in storage and make small items out of the offcuts.

  3. admin says:

    recap : 24th : 2 emails, one saying… starting work, another saying finished.

    I just need to go and pick the thing up now – which I’ll do manually because I’m too tight to pay 19 dollars for postage.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Ponoko : First attempt"
  1. […] Because I’m such a tight-wad I actually dropped in, in person rather than pay the $19 postage… of down to Wellington went I, and into the Ponoko offices. […]

  2. […] has complained about my publishing Golden-Mean Calliper designs that were too close his… and fair enough, they are hell of a close even though there […]