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Makerspaces - can you build one in 100 days?
Popular for many years in the USA, Makerspaces are a relatively new concept to the UK. That said, there are already a lot of incredible Makerspaces popping up around the country and doing an incredible job for the makers community. If you haven’t come across them before, here’s a bit of background. So now here’s our unique spin on it. Here is what we’ve managed to turn out in just 100 days over Winter 2022/23. Introducing Northwich Makerspace.
Introducing… Northwich Makerspace.
We’re super proud to announce this – the first facility of it’s kind in our area, giving the community access to high tech tools & equipment.
Back in October 2022, Jonathan secured a new premises, and preparation got underway for Northwich Makerspace. The first facility of it’s kind in the area, it’s set to bring a fresh and unique approach to the traditional Makerspaces concept. Helping develop local creative talent by providing the right tools and environment in which people can work.
This is right around the corner from Shadow Foam HQ. And it’s something Jonathan’s wanted to do for a long time. “For the past few years I’ve being working on the idea of a Community Makerspace for the people of Northwich. There are a few operations like this around the country. But we’re very much going to bring a really inclusive, vibrant and innovative feel to this one.”
“Makerspaces are essentially a community workshop. It’s a place for anyone who’s interested in making things, inventing things, arts, crafts or being creative with technology. You can go there to work alone in a safe and supportive space. Or to find a community that likes the same things that you do. It will have all the tools, equipment and resources on hand to make it happen. So it’s a level playing field for anyone, even if they don’t currently have access to tools themselves.”
“It’s a place to learn, share, experiment and create. Whilst it’s being set up and operated by us, essentially it is funded by its members. They then shape and grow the facility as they need it for themselves and others to continue to benefit from for years to come.”
What’s in the Makerspace
The Northwich Makerspace has a range of cutting edge technology with a tech area or FabLab as it’s become known. This has a range of Professional 3D printers. Also a large, high powered CNC Laser which can cut MDF, Acylic, Vinyl, Leather and many other materials up to 1.2metres in size. Powerful PC’s with the latest software are available to allow people to get straight down to designing and 3D Printing.
The Makerspace also has a fully kitted out woodworking area. This includes a table saw, band saws, planers, woodturning lathe, router table, drill press and bench sanders. Along with a huge selection of power tools. This area has several workbenches, so people can work on the machinery and equipment when needed. Then, they can take the project back to their workbench making it simple to share the space and work with others.
Makerspaces around the country vary in what they offer. One more unusual addition is that we also have a Craft Zone. This has a multi-purpose classroom/studio which can be used for tabletop crafts and hobbies. We’ve sewing machines, leather working tools, a vinyl plotter, large format printers, and all sorts of arts and craft tools.
Jonathan expanded on his plans further.
“We will have storage areas available in a variety of sizes. So members can store ongoing projects and materials, and can leave any personal equipment or tools securely at the Makerspace. There will also be an area for shared resources. That will be free for any of the members to use in their projects.”
About Makerspaces members
Different makerspaces have varying ideas and approaches to this. Typically, it’s a little like a gym membership. You would pay to become a member of the space, and then be able to go in and begin using the equipment in there. There would usually be an assumption that you would be trained and competent to use any equipment you wish to use. And an obligation to seek learning to use anything you’re not familiar with. That’s just to keep the member safe and the equipment working faultlessly. And often the other members come together and help one another in growing skills and developing the space to suit the members too.
Organisers and founding members of our Makerspace will be looking to improve, grow and develop the facility. More information on memberships can be found here. And you can also learn heaps more about it at our Northwich Makerspace Youtube Channel.
Backing for Northwich Makerspace
The crowdfunders and founding members have really helped to get the project off the ground initially.
But now, the project has taken an even more exciting turn. Northwich Makerspace now also has the backing of inventor Colin Furze. So it’s set to benefit from the unique energy and ideas that only an innovator like he can bring. Jonathan and Colin go back a few years now. Colin is a frequent user of Shadow Foam and has become a friend of the business over the years. Last year at the popular Makers Central event at Birmingham NEC Jonathan and Colin chatted. They were working together on a film that gave tips to other makers and inventors on how to get started in the business. During their chat there, Colin told Jonathan,
“I sometimes wish I could put a USB stick in my head, download what I’ve seen and put it out there.”
And from that, an idea was born… why not do just that?! If it’s possible to tap into the knowledge, experience, skills and expertise of one of the UK’s best loved makers, then why not get him involved with the new Makerspace project? When the two first spoke about it, it was clear that the vision for the Makerspace was one Colin also shared;
“It’s such a great idea. My wife and I have discussed doing something similar in our home town of Stamford (Lincolnshire). We had even found an appropriate location, but sadly due to Covid had to park the idea. So we’re really happy to support Jonathan in the Northwich Makerspace as proof of concept. Then hopefully it’s something that we can look together at, with a view to rolling out elsewhere in the future too.” With the irrepressible Furze now firmly on board supporting Jonathan and team with the creation and future of Northwich Makerspace, the energy and buzz about the facility is really starting to build.
Northwich Makerspace opens in February 2023, and we can’t wait to welcome you there.