From Bits to Atoms

ScreenshotPonoko has an interesting business model: you design something on your computer, save an EPS file, and upload it to them. Then they turn their laser-cutter loose on your choice of wood or acrylic materials, and make actual physical copies for you. On their site, they show this technique being used for a variety of furniture, jewelry, games, and other items. It’s sort of what-you-see-is-what-you-manufacture.

With the operation currently being in New Zealand (with plans to expand to a US fabrication facility) and costs being relatively high, right now this is suited only for some small, high-markup niches. But with techniques like laser cutting and 3D printing becoming more widely available, it does indicate a potential future option for web workers: taking the design skills we use for bits and turning them into actual atoms.

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