If you’re an avid maker or even just a budding genius with a head filled with great ideas but you don’t have access to the tools required to materialize those ideas, then there’s hope. Thanks to the dedication and foresight of organizations like Velocity, a non-profit organization based in Southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky, and TechShop, the California-based fabrication labs inspired by the DIY and Maker movement, aspiring makers in that area can hop on board the shiny new MakerMobile and access the guidance and tools they need to turn their bright ideas into fully realized objects.
The MakerMobile–basically a roaming fabrication space–provides users who don’t have easy access to equipment with access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a CNC machine, a vinyl cutter, electronic kits, and laptop workstations. It’s a 32-foot-long trailer towed by a new Ford F-250 truck. You can’t miss it when it’s coming up the road as it is the words “The MakerMobile” are prominently emblazoned on both sides of the trailer along with images of gears and various schematics of inventions like the telescope.
Velocity is a non-profit organization dedicated to, as their website explains, “accelerating the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.” They use their 7,000 square feet of space to provide a community-style workshop environment that emphasizes innovation and invention. TechShop, which participates in Maker Faires in North Carolina and in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a chain of member-based workshops where people of varying skill levels can use the workshop space and the industrial tools and equipment to build their own projects. Both offer classes on everything from coding to laser cutting, electronics, and 3D printing.
Ideas large and small are welcome as the MakerMobile is as much about pedagogy as it is about facilitating production. In the spirit of the maker and DIY movement, the philosophy behind the MakerMobile is, as the website explains, to get “people around the world working with their hands again–repurposing, repairing, and rethinking.”
The MakerMobile is a sort of mobile, small-scale version of a TechShop work space. TechShop, which was founded by Jim Newton and Ridge McGhee, has been on the Maker scene since 2006. Newton, who was an advisor to the popular television show Mythbusters as well as a robotics teacher at the College of San Mateo, had dreamed of setting up a user-friendly space where all of the tools and materials necessary for working on projects would be available for use. He’d seen the frustration many of his students experienced due to the lack of access of the equipment they needed to successfully complete projects. McGhee, who also lives in California, had been distressed at what he regarded as a decline in American manufacturing; it seemed that people were less capable of making things, lacking both the skills and the equipment they needed. Together, Newton and McGhee opened their first TechShop and then in 2013 relocated from Menlo Park to San Carlos, California–the very heart of Silicon valley.
The MakerMobile first made the scene in 2014 and, thanks to the collaboration of Velocity and TechShop, Kentuckians and residents of Southern Indiana can now benefit from its educational programs, which include community center and school visits, team building and corporate outreach, and other special events. As far as 3D printing is concerned, the MakerMobile is on top of its game. It features a Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer which, as the site emphasizes, “is not industry-standard.” Rather, notes the site, “it is an interactive example of manufacturing technology being reformed and adapted for the consumer, BY the consumer.” Fully embracing so-called “hacker culture,” the 3D printer is an example of consumer-driven and -modified technology, which is in itself instructive. That is, not only can a user of the MakerMobile avail him- or herself of the equipment and training, but he or she can learn about 3D printing from the inside out. You learn how the machine works rather than just pressing a button and letting technology do its thing.
For more information about the offerings of the MakerMobile and to find out how to access services, check out the website as well as the MakerMobile’s Facebook page. If you’re a resident of Southern Indiana or the Louisville, Kentucky area, chances are pretty good that those projects you’ve been dreaming of seeing through are no longer simply stalled on the drawing board.
Have you come across the Maker Mobile yet? Let us know in the Maker Mobile forum thread on 3DPB.com.