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Desktop manufacturing, minus the special software


We’ve already written about Ponoko on two separate occasions, including its release earlier this fall of a tool to help shoppers and designers collaborate. Now, just a few weeks later, the New Zealand company has come out with another innovation that aims to make it even easier for consumers to get their creative ideas turned into real-world products. Whereas Ponoko’s original Designmake tool requires that consumers use vector art software (such as Adobe Illustrator CS, Macromedia Freehand MX, Inkscape or CorelDraw X3) or 3D modelling software to design their products, its new Photomake tool eliminates that requirement. Instead, users of the new tool can now simply draw their design using old-fashioned pen and paper and upload a digital photo or scan of it onto Ponoko’s site. Then, as before, they can choose a material, get an instant price to have their product made and then send it into production. Derek Elley, Ponoko’s chief strategy officer, explains: “It’s great for crafters, makers and artists. One of the cool things about Photomake is the quality of the result–it’s truly hand-drawn. Because digital making is so very precise, every tiny bump in the hand-drawn creation is picked up and made for real. This gives a very natural and human feel to the things you make.” More than 10,000 consumers have already used Ponoko’s original Designmake tool, the company says, and it’s a safe bet that simplifying the process will expand those ranks further. Goodbye, barriers to entry–this is customer-made taken to a new level. That sound you hear is the global brain getting even bigger! (Related: More desktop manufacturing for consumers.) Spotted by: Sven Ericksen



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