ShopBot was Here
During a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, ShopBot's Sallye Coyle and Ted Hall visited three different places using digital fabrication in their business models. All three facilities have an array of digital fabrication tools: 3D printers, laser cutters, ShopBot CNC tools, traditional wood and metal working equipment, and facilities for working with electronics. As Sallye reports, each has its own style:
FabLab Tacoma is a Community MakerSpace based on the TechShop model. The owner, Steve Tibbits, has situated his facility in downtown Tacoma, close to University of Washington Tacoma Campus, the Tacoma Art Museum, and the Glass Museum. His son, Chris, offers classes on their ShopBot on a regular basis. They have found that people attend the project-based and training classes but tend to join the facility just long enough to complete their individual projects. So they are supplementing their program by offering production services.
At the other end of the scale, InHaus Fabrication in Eugene, Oregon, does not open its doors to individual makers, but provides rapid manufacturing services to the community with 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC machining (with their ShopBot 48" Buddy). Like FabLab Tacoma, owner Kris's business model continues to evolve. He and partners are working with the local school districts to incorporate digital technology into STEM education fields.
Started as a labor of love by Kelley Roy, ADX in Portland has bootstrapped itself into a facility that provides production services and offers space and shared tools and knowledge. We visited on the day that ADX's old CNC was being replaced with their new ShopBot standard 4' x 8' tool. Not all members use digital fabrication: a retired cabinetmaker rents a 10' x 10' booth where he builds spheres made of scrap wood using chops saws and sanding jigs. Kelley has spent over 20 years in Portland, building networks and making connections with artists and makers. One program that has come out of the facility is Portland Made, a local goods collective, where you swipe a card at each of the participating locations, and get perks at another, like discounts or free time at ADX.
By the way, you'll find all three of these spaces listed on ShopBot's 100kgarages.com website.