Ponoko’s On-Demand Manufacturing Makes it a Greener Proposition
The world’s easiest making system
Online manufacturing service Ponoko prides itself on having brought digital fabrication into the information age. Currently based in San Francisco, Ponoko was one of the first companies to adopt a distributed/on-demand manufacturing business model, of which 3D printing plays a pivotal role. Ponoko.com is well organized and, owing to its whimsical graphics, has an almost jaunty feel to it. However, despite its playful exterior, the site’s core features highlight two of the strongest offerings in the industry: a flourishing marketplace where users can buy, sell or share custom 3D models; and Ponoko’s Personal Factory platform, which not only connects customers to simple, yet powerful, browser-based 3D design apps—like Autodesk 123D and Tinkercad—but allows app developers to post their own wares.
When it comes to 3D printed goods, Ponoko offers a rather modest selection of materials—ranging from plastics and ceramics, to metals—in which you can order your creations. However, 3D printing comprises only a portion of what Ponoko does. Overall, the company boasts over 1,600 material and color combinations available through their 2D and 3D services.
A Brief History
Ponoko is the brainchild of plucky New Zealanders, David ten Have and Derek Elley, who had also co-founded the climate change awareness website Celsias.com. The Kiwi duo debuted Ponoko at the TechCrunch 40 conference back in 2007, and have since been building business relationships with the likes of 100K Garages—a network of shop-bot manufacturers in North America—and European local manufacturing services Formulor, Vectorealism and RazorLab. In 2011, Ponoko teamed up with Autodesk to integrate the Personal Factory service into the releases of Autodesk 123D Make and 123D Catch.
Why Should You Go With Ponoko?
Ponoko’s presentation is sure to attract newbies and even those relatively familiar with 3D printing. The website is eminently navigable, and integration with 123D and Tinkercad place some pretty powerful tools at your disposal. Numbering in the tens of thousands, the selection of 3D models available on Ponoko’s marketplace is staggering. The company’s distributed/on-demand manufacturing model, in conjunction with its growing network of manufacturing sites, reduces waste and warehousing, as well as the carbon footprint of traditional shipping. This approach has earned Ponoko a reputation for being socially responsible and forward-thinking. Are you ready to sign up and start 3D modeling now? Or maybe you’d just like to learn more about it. Either way, it’d be worth having a look at Ponoko’s website.
What Else Is Out There?
Ponoko is only one of a growing number of 3D printer services that cater to clienteles ranging from engineers and inventors to designers and artists, and even to hobbyists and enthusiasts. For more information on the web’s top 3D printer services, consult our comparison grid.