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What is a Makerspace?

First, let's define a 'maker'.

A Maker is anyone who works with their hands and minds to create unique and custom projects or products. Now, that is a lot of ground to cover. woodworkers are makers. Blacksmiths are makers. Painters are makers. T-shirt printers are makers. Computer builders are makers. Photographers are makers. Musicians are makers. Graphic artists are makers. You see how this goes. There are infinitely many crafts that can classify someone as a maker.

A makerspace is a place that provides tools, resources, and most importantly community to those makers.

Some makerspaces have advantages and strengths over others, but most involve a certain variation of these tools:

  • 3D Printers

  • Laser Engravers

  • CNC Machines

  • Sewing Machines

  • Heat Presses

  • A General Workspace for Wood and Metal

Some may include more specialty tools like screen-printing, leather-working, a design/computer lab, circuitry, vinyl cutting, or blacksmithing but most will have the bulleted tools above as well as some sort of training or education program to operate the tools.

finding Makerspaces can be hard. Some market themselves as 'community workshops'. Others do not market themselves at all. Some have websites and social media, and others do not. Some are embedded in other organizations like schools and libraries. It may take some digging to find all of the options in your area, especially if you live in a large or heavily-populated area.

Once you have found all of your local options; here are some questions you may want to ask before committing to an organization:

  1. What are the hours of the makerspace? Is it 24/7?

  2. What is the safety procedure/training?

  3. Is the makerspace insured?

  4. Who fixes broken tools and how quickly?

  5. How are people able to access the space if it is 24/7?

  6. Is the space secure? Cameras? Safety Locks?

  7. How do I connect with other members?

  8. Is the makerspace air-conditioned?

  9. What is the cost? Hourly? Monthly? Yearly? Are there additional fees involved?

  10. Is there a policy against businesses or making money with items made in the space?

Every maker has different needs and expectations for what tools and space they will need to work on their projects, but every space should have the answers to these questions at a bare minimum.

Once you have the answers to these questions; you should be able to make the best decision on which space meets your needs.

Makerspaces come in all shapes and forms. Some will look more like warehouses, and others will look like manufacturing facilities. Finding your local makerspace(s) and finding how it/they might best fill your needs can save you a lot of money in tools, time, space at your home, and the community and education to reduce failed attempts (because let's face it, your first try is never perfect, and YouTube can only help so much)

If you are a maker and you are not a member of a makerspace yet; find your local space and get involved! You never know what you will learn, or what new possibilities will arise!

As Always; Make Something Awesome!

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