Ponoko Team Demos Autodesk 123D and 3D Printing Made To Order

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Ponoko Webinar with Christina Westbrook

Yesterday, we attended a Ponoko webinar with community manager Christina Westbrook. Christina likes to make things and shared her passion for personal fabrication with us. Last year, Ponoko announced a partnership with Autodesk to host 123D in their Personal Factory App Gateway. In this webinar, Christina was showing us how to use 123D and Ponoko to make interesting products.

First Christina showed us some examples of what you can do with 3D design software and 3D printing. These ranged from jewelry to lamps to custom iPhone cases.

Below is an example product Christina made: a case for a Square card reader. This product costs about $10 in materials and she sells it for $18 on Shapeways.

3D Printed Square Card Reader Case

This product was made out of durable plastic, but a variety of materials are available, including gold plating and stainless steel.

Durable plastic is cheap at $1.70 / cubic cm, and can be printed as thin as 1mm. You can purchase samples or make your own prototypes to test out different materials. http://www.ponoko.com/make-and-sell/materials

Ponoko Material Samples

How did she get the exact dimensions for a Square reader? She suggested either buying a digital caliper or taking a photo of a source object and measure digitally. We asked if you can import a photo into 123D in order to trace the dimensions. That might be on the roadmap, but isn’t ready today.

Autodesk 123D

In the webinar, Christina gave us a detailed walkthrough of 123D from Autodesk. 123D is free 3D modeling software that lets you create complex 3D designs. The exported files can be uploaded to Ponoko or other sites to be 3D printed.

What can you design? As Christina said, “Something simple can be made into an awesome gift.” Over the course of the 15 minutes, Christina designed a ring with an extruded heart shape.

Here are some screenshots of her design:

Ponoko Webinar Design

Ponoko Webinar Design

Ponoko Webinar Design

Ponoko Materials Selection

Expert 3D design tips:

  • Adhere to the minimum thickness for your target material. When designing a product in 3D software, keep in mind the minimum wall thickness. If your design is too thin, your product may not survive shipping. For durable plastic, the minimum thickness is 1mm; for stainless steel, it’s 3mm.
  • Color can be added to projects. This can be done in the design software or later with dye.
  • If you do sell your 3D printed products, don’t forget to account for the extra time it takes you to finalize a product in the price. Some designers like to dye their products after they are printed to give them that extra polished feel.
  • When shapes in a design overlap, combine areas and make the intersection hollow. This will save on cost.
  • Clean up edges so your customer doesn’t get scratched by your product.

What’s coming down the road?

Christina wouldn’t divulge specifics from the roadmap, but it sounds like Maker Faire on May 19-20 will be a big event with more exciting announcements to come.

Thanks to Christina and the whole Ponoko team for hosting this informative webinar!

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6 Responses to Ponoko Team Demos Autodesk 123D and 3D Printing Made To Order

  1. Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your site by chance, and I am shocked why this coincidence did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. [...] 3d printed objects, the creation will increase. We are already seeing steps in that direction with Autodesk 123D and other [...]

  3. Thanks for the great writeup! If anyone else is keen to join in on one of our upcoming training sessions you can check out the upcoming sessions here:


  4. [...] we featured a Ponoko community manager who designed a heart-shaped ring in Autodesk 123D. Today, we are showcasing a romantic guy who [...]

  5. Tinkercad says:

    The Ponoko sessions are really informative. The one yesterday covered their materials, which was super helpful. Highly recommended!

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