If you co-host a large-scale mass customization conference as we did with the Create Your Own (CYO) last year, it is delighting to learn that connections established during the event are resulting in new ventures and products.
One result of CYO networking has been the cooperation between virtual product presentation specialist Open Experience and Formulor, a Berlin based company offering customized 3D-products. Formulor is one of the German frontend's for Ponoko.
Formulor gives its users all the tools necesary to design whatever shape and form they like and to have it laser cut and engraved before shipping it to your doorstep. The really great part of this is the consumer frontend which is about as easy to use as a "conventional" configurator and yet can do so much more.
It enables casual users and professional designers alike to quickly bring any form out of their mind onto a virtual canvas. One can do so by either uploading an existing file (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, inkscape) or by using the really convenient drawing and writing tools embedded into the configurator.
Open Experience, a spin-off of the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie KIT and a specialist in 3D configuration, has done a great job in designing the front end. Even without any knowledge of how to use a 2D-designing software you can easily get a nice-looking 3D object drawn and rendered in no time at all.
Most of the work, the magic to it, if you will, happens in the background. While you draw and write on the virtual canvas the software translatest your entries into a 3D model which is presented at all times. You will always know how your design will look in "real life" once laser-cut and delivered to you.
Furthermore the configurator automatically checks whether or not your design is actually technically producable, so you do not have to worry about that aspect at all: As long as it can be manufactured by Formulor's partner company Ponoko's laser cutters, you can design whatever you like.
And because Formulor checks your brainchild against Ponoko's personal factory API, pricing of your design is also constantly updated.
The base materials you chose from at the beginning of your configuration process include acrylic glass, cardboard, cork, corrugate card, decoflex veneer, felt, finnboard, leather, MDF, PET, paperboard, plywood, polypropylen, silicon and stamp rubber in a large variety of colors and thicknesses.
This platform can really be of great value for all kinds of creatives, be it to visualize an idea, to prototype, to get special parts for your architectural model or just as part of your latest crafting of christmas gifts.
Besides this practical aspect it is a great example of how (conference) networking can help you identifying the right partner to get your business ahead of the competition. Formulor, Open Experience and Ponoko have created a very interesting tool for individual and affordable modeling here that could set standards in this branch.