makerspace update (a partial review of twin cities maker)
Read about what a makerspace is and the entire saga that led to this post here:
i visited tc maker
This place is amazing! I wish I could take you through the entire shop and show you all the tools one by one, but that would take months!
I gave a very brief introduction to TC Maker in my earlier posts, but now I'll give you the whole story!
I rode my bike across the great Mississippi river and navigated precariously through Minneapolis' unmarked streets with nothing but my phone map to keep me company. I actually passed the makerspace a couple times because I didn't realize that it's situated in a residential neighborhood. It seems like it's an old grocery or hardware store that's been partially converted into large, open spaces for every type of tool!
At the time of writing this post, the makerspace has open houses and tours every Wednesday. Upon entering, I was met by the door to the Zombie Containment Area which just goes to show how well-stocked this place is! I hate having to shop around for fresh zombies.
3d printing lab
I got to see the 3D printing and computer lab. This was the only part of the shop that I found to be a little lackluster; however, I've been working with 3D printers that range in cost from hundreds to millions of dollars for my job the last three years, so I may have unrealistic expectations. The 3D printing lab, like everything in the entire makerspace, is composed of donated machines so all of the printers are consumer-grade and in various levels of maintenance. If you're like most people and don't have access to your own 3D printer or a multimillion-dollar research-grade bioprinting laboratory, TC Maker would be a great place to start, but I expect you'll quickly grow out of it if you become serious about 3D printing. If you'd like to improve these facilities, please, please, please contact TC Maker and ask how you can help!
Now for the really good stuff!
I must admit that I'm joining TC Maker for the woodworking facilities, so this is the section I focus on the most.
You can find a list of available tools on their website, but it would be quicker to list the things that they don't have! The shop boasts everything from hand chisels to multiple table saws to an enormous drum sander and an industrial planer (and every single one of the power tools is equipped with centralized dust collection)!
If I remember correctly, there are 6-8 independent workbenches (you can see some of them in the picture above). Essentially, members can enter the shop at any time, claim any open workbench, and have every tool in the shop just a few feet away. Here's a picture of just one of the handtool racks:
Here's a picture of just four of the drill presses:
Take a good look at those sawblades on the wall just above the window to the fully equipped, multimedia classroom/kitchen space. Those blades are all caught in the Sawstop-brand safety mechanism. That's right! This makerspace has a state-of-the-art table saw that stops the saw blade after it senses your finger, but before your finger gets chopped off. This will really help me sleep at night.
There're also multiple, very large and very small lathes that I hope to learn about as soon as possible.
I can't wait to show all y'all what I'm going to make in this shop!
Here's where I start to leave my wheelhouse. I'm not a welder and haven't welded since high school, but the shop has multiple variable-sized welding bays and all the types of welding machines I've ever heard of.
That's right, this place has blacksmithing! If you enjoy that, check it out!
it's all run by volunteers
Everything that happens at the makerspace, from replacing toilet paper to fixing the machines, is entirely accomplished by volunteers choosing to help out. The people who work there are volunteers, the people who build there are volunteers, and the people who clean up and fix things are volunteers. This absolutely blew my mind! I didn't realize that people in our world today could work together to maintain a wonderful place simply out of the goodness of their hearts.
This is one of the only places in the world where you have a handmade bathroom cabinet made by a skilled carpenter hanging above a sign requesting that you clean the bathroom yourself!
All in all, I am overwhelmed and impressed by Twin Cities Maker, its facilities, and the people who maintain it. I can't wait to become part of this amazing community.
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