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Arts and Science [1403.21]

Techshop: Maker Heaven 2011

(this article first appeared in our 2011 holiday newsletter)

TechShop is a membership workshop similar to a gym, but with shop tools instead of fitness equipment. It really is heaven for anyone who loves to make things. The facilities are huge, housing almost every tool you can imagine for working metal, wood, plastic, electronics, and even fabric. They have laser cutters, welding stations, a 4’ by 8’ ShopBot CNC router, a 3D fabricator, and sheet metal tools, in addition to normal stuff like table saws, drill presses, band saws, hand tools, etc. They also offer a wide variety of classes, and in fact you must pass a safety and basic use (SBU) class prior to using a tool where you could do serious damage to yourself or the tool.

I took SBUs for the industrial sewing machine and industrial serger sewing machine, while Dave took a class on carbon fiber fabrication. We both took SBUs for the laser cutter, which lets you etch or cut materials such as wood, paper, plastic, and coated metals, and its rotary attachment, which lets you etch cylindrical objects like glasses, bottles, or flashlights. Afterwards I created a custom designed kendo equipment bag, and Dave laser cut telescope focusing masks, star charts, and other neat things.

We spent time at each of the three TechShops in the Bay area, in Menlo Park, San Francisco, and San Jose. There are also TechShops in Raleigh NC and Detroit MI, with Portland, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles as possible future sites.

We’re curious- are you interested in the TechShop concept? Let us know!

Update 1403.21: TechShop announced plans to open in downtown Los Angeles! See press release.

If you wish to comment on this post, see the companion blogspot entry.

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