The maker movement

By Geoffrey A. Fowler via online.WSJ.com   Article

Build a Better Mousetrap—Fast

“New facilities let entrepreneurs create physical products at speeds and costs that were once unthinkable

… Max Gunawan spent evenings and weekends at a TechShop Inc. workshop in downtown San Francisco. There, he used computer-operated laser-cutting and milling machines to test a few ideas. Several months later, Mr. Gunawan had a prototype lamp in the shape of a book that he called Lumio. He quit his day job and raised nearly $600,000 in funding from the website Kickstarter to build his lighting-design business. … At TechShop, he had access to … more than a million dollars’ worth of wood cutters, metal punchers, 3-D printers, design software and other equipment—for a membership fee of about $125 per month.

Over the past six years, TechShop has attracted more than 4,000 members to facilities in six cities, from Round Rock, Texas, to Pittsburgh, and it has three more in the works. On most Friday nights, they hum with dozens of hobbyists, academics, students and artists sawing, blasting and carving. They have their own version of a “genius bar,” with experts in tools and manufacturing on standby.

Elsewhere, about 40 communities in the U.S. and more than 100 in other countries now have Fab Labs, workshops born from a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that gives youth and adults access to about $100,000 worth of tools like laser cutters. Some cities have homegrown nonprofit hacker spaces where inventors can share tools, such as Brooklyn’s NYC Resistor; Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Mass.; and Chicago’s Pumping Station: One.”

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