Ponoko is the grand idea of digital design and manufacture; they make it possible for designers to meet customers, "where creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers meet to make (almost) anything." It is a green idea, producing only when something is wanted, transporting ideas instead of physical objects.
Except there wasn't a computerized router or CNC machine on every block, no 3D Kinko's where you could go and print out your object like a couple of photocopies. Until now, with the introduction of 100K Garages, a joint venture between Ponoko and ShopBot, a community of over six thousand fabricators.
Suddenly, anyone can pick one of 20,000 Ponoko Designs (or build one themselves) and get it cut out and built just about anywhere. It is great for ShopBot owners:
"Ponoko's making system gives our ShopBot owners the ability to receive a new stream of work from a wide range of customers," says ShopBot's President Ted Hall. "Our partnership also means everyone now has easy access to their own local 3D fabricator. This is the first step to providing a solution for the doers and makers out there who want to join in re-building America, one garage at a time."
And for Ponoko Designers:
To date over 30,000 DIY, hard to find and consumer goods have been made using Ponoko. "Our online making system makes it easier than ever before to turn ideas into real things," says David ten Have, Ponoko's CEO. "And by partnering with ShopBot we bring together more than 20,000 creators and over 6,000 fabricators to use a powerful online service to design, make and deliver goods locally"
And for those who are trying to reinvent the way things are made, to bring production back to North America, to make good design accessible to everyone. Derek at Ponoko writes:
Using the 100kGarages website anyone can get their ideas made locally with the click of a mouse, and delivered within just a few days. It is powered by Ponoko's online 'click to make' system and ShopBot digital fabricators in 54 countries around the world.
They are not on every main street yet; most shopbots are used by companies and don't take in a lot of outside work. But that still is a huge change. We have been writing about Ponoko and the promise of digital design and production for years; It was always a great idea, and they have been slowly putting together the pieces of the puzzle. This was by far the biggest piece, getting the buy-in from so many ShopBot owners and launching 100K Garages.
This really does change everything.
Hey, there is one in my town; I am going to try it out and report back.
UPDATE I have just been informed that Graham Hill, founder of TreeHugger, is on the Board of Directors for Ponoko. I guess he likes them too....
To get more information on downloadable design, we have a whole website:
More on Ponoko:
Ponoko ID: If You Can Think Of It, They Can Design and Make It
Ponoko Brings On-Demand Design to the U.S.
Ponoko Online Furniture Manufacturing: If You Dream It, They Can Build It
It is Already Happening: Ponoko