The maker movement is growing into an unstoppable wave of creativity that is surging through the minds of those looking to spark a revolution. Embracing the idea of do-it-yourself workshop spaces, cities everywhere can become playgrounds of innovation where individuals of all walks of life come together in an effort to build something new. With the right tools and the support of a well-resourced community, just about anyone can change the world.
Setting the standard for membership-based fabrication studios is a company called TechShop. Founded in October 2006, their mission is to drive global innovation by engaging, enabling, and empowering creative communities to build dreams. Based in San Jose, California, TechShop has locations nationwide and are extending to areas outside the United States in the near future. Their partnerships include Ford, General Electric, DARPA, the US Department of Labor, BMW, Autodesk, and a few other heavy players in various industries which helps give more access to the tools and information needed to produce a product. Laser cutters, CNC routers, industrial sewing machines, and welding equipment are all provided within each facility allowing members to make whatever they want.
The most recent expansion of TechShop is taking place in Los Angeles, CA. An event was held at the LA Mart building downtown on March 21, 2014 where CEO Mark Hatch presented an information session that was open to the public. Learning about the project goals while showcasing success stories was the primary focus. He spoke of the origins of the mobile payment device called Square that was developed by a glass blower from St. Louis and a co-founder of Twitter. They made their first prototypes in the Menlo Park TechShop which has turned into a $3.25 billion valuation. Other projects that have come out of TechShop range from cooling servers to illuminated popup LED books to opensource underwater robots and even lost-cost infant warmers, furthering the idea that anything is possible here.
Jim Newton, a previous science advisor for the Mythbusters television show, was present at the event as well. He is now the Chairman and Founder of TechShop who created the company because he needed a place to build his own inventions. Talking with him brought out some insight into the interworkings of TechShop procedures. For instance, there is a minimum age requirement for someone to become a member. This is due to the fact that there are dangerous tools being used causing an increase in insurance protocols to keep everyone safe. Asking more questions led to conversations about ‘hacker cars’ and the potential to shake up the transportation industry. Discussing how to synthesize Kevlar briefly came up when showing him some newly crafted fire poi sets.
As the night wound down, connections were made as people intermingled with each other drinking wine and eating cheese. At least one person there was scouting out the collaborative nature of the TechShop environment as he planned to take this experience back to his own hackerspace in Fountain Valley, California. Others just wanted to meet the founders and leaders of the maker movement. Overall, it is good to see the influence that TechShop is already having on the Los Angeles co-creator community. It will be just a matter of time before more success stories flood out of this area thanks to the continued efforts of the TechShop team.
TechShop Website – http://www.techshop.ws/
TechShop Los Angeles Investment Page – http://invest.techshop.com/los-angeles
Mark Hatch Twitter – https://twitter.com/markhatch
Jim Newton Twitter – https://twitter.com/TechShopJim