Think you can give Steve Jobs a run for his money in product design? Ponoko, which let’s you manufacture your own products from materials like timber, plastic and metal, has just announced a partnership with open-source electronics supplier SparkFun. Effectively this means that you can manufacture any item which consists of electronics inside a casing — lamps, music players, robots, and more.
According to Ponoko, no other “maker” company offers this feature. The offering broadens the customer co-creation trend VentureBeat has written about to a wide range of manufactured products. Creators upload their designs and select flat sheet materials. Then they have the option to add electronic hardware to their order at the same price as buying direct from SparkFun.
I suspect that Ponoko’s new electronics features are not for everyone but if you can use design software and are handy with a soldering iron (you need to assemble the screen and electronics pieces), this could definitely be something for you. Manufactured products can also be offered for sale via Ponoko’s website.
Ponoko is part of a wider DIY product movement which includes companies like 3D printing service Shapeways or T-shirt maker Threadless where users design and manufacture their own products. This democratization of manufacturing parallels the user-generated content explosion unleashed by content-sharing sites like YouTube. Ponoko users have made 60,000 items to date covering everything from steam-punk couture to furniture.
Ponoko was founded in 2007 in Wellington, New Zealand, is privately funded and has 6 employees.
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