The Hippo


Jan 20, 2020








Courtesy photo.

Race Car Maker

Ian Cook joined MakeIt Labs four years ago as a college student. Since then, he’s worked on drones, 3-D printing and various other projects, but last year, Cook took on a new challenge at the makerspace. 
“[I’m] turning my daily-driver car into a race car for hillclimb racing in Vermont,” he said. “I come from a family of racing, so I wanted to get into it. Racing is kind of expensive if you don’t do everything yourself, but having MakeIt Labs allows me to do that.” 
First, Cook measured out the car and designed a model on a computer program. Now he’s in the process of fabricating a roll cage, which he works on at MakeIt Labs almost every evening. MakeIt Labs has the tools he needs, such as chop saws, bandsaws, angle grinders, welders, an automotive lift and certain hand tools. 
“It would be impossible for me to do this at home,” he said. “I live in an apartment. I don’t have a garage or anything. At MakeIt Labs, I have a heated, lit place where I can spread out and work.” 
Cook sometimes posts the times he’ll be working on the car on the MakeIt Labs online message board so that other members can join him if they’re interested.
“I’ve had quite a few people come by and help. It’s fun to be involved with something more than  your own project,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s also a pay-it-forward thing, because they know I’ll help with their project down the line.”  
Nashua MakeIt Labs 
MakeIt Labs (25 Crown St., Nashua, has been open since 2010. Earlier this month, it completed the move from a 6,000-square-foot space to a 12,000-square-foot space down the street. Part of the new facility is a garage-type area, which MakeIt Labs President Adam Shrey said houses “the louder and dirtier equipment” for things like metal fabrication, machining and automotive work. Another part is a clean space with smaller, spread-out tables for working on electronics and computers. 
“We have a little of everything, from soldering irons and computers to welders, laser cutters and plasma cutters,” Shrey said. “But that’s just the equipment. … While some [makerspaces] are just a place where people work on stuff, we’re one that has a full range of capabilities with classes, social spaces and a variety of other things.” 
MakeIt Labs has two main membership options: a “Hobbyist” membership includes access to the building during set hours and a minimal time allotment on metered equipment. “Pro” members get an RFID card for 24/7 building access, priority access to tools, project storage space and an extended time allotment on metered equipment.
The cost to join is $40 per month for a Hobbyist membership, $75 per month for Pro membership.
Manchester Makerspace 
Manchester Makerspace (36 Old Granite St., Manchester, is set to open by early April. The current plan allocates 6,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space to work stations for metalworking, woodworking, machinery and automotive projects, and 1,500 sq. ft. of clean space for things like computer programming and video game designing. However, Manchester Makerspace Vice President Steve Korzyniowski said that the development of the makerspace will be largely up to the members. 
“Those who are interested and passionate about having this public work space will bring their ideas and talents… and those will determine what [equipment] is best to have here,” he said.
Manchester Makerspace will implement a system with RFID cards that grant members 24/7 access to the building and access to equipment if they have been approved. Classes will be offered on operating makerspace equipment and various other topics.
Membership types include Individual, Family and Company with options for three months, six months and 12 months. Storage space will be available for an additional fee. 
“There’s been a huge amount of interest so far,” Korzyniowski said. 
Individual memberships start at $275 for three months.

Building Ideas
Makerspaces attract STEM “geeks”

By Angie Sykeny

 If your hobbies or career aspirations fall into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) realm, a makerspace can be a valuable resource to help you grow your ideas.

What is a makerspace? 
“It’s like a health club for geeks,” said Steve Korzyniowski, vice president of the board for the new Manchester Makerspace opening in a few weeks. “It’s a place where people who make things can work on their projects and have access to the tools they need, access to a knowledge base of people trained in various skills, and gather … with others who are interested in the same ideas.” 
Makerspaces are generally nonprofits and member-operated. Most membership packages are offered by the month, and some makerspaces have different levels of membership that come with more or less accessibility to the building and equipment and added perks. 
Most makerspaces require members to pass a test or complete a class before allowing them access to advanced equipment.
“Safety is a first priority, both the safety of the members and of the equipment,” Adam Shrey, president of MakeIt Labs in Nashua, said. “If someone has been a woodworker their whole life and they can demonstrate a few things, we’ll give them clearance [to use woodworking equipment]. Otherwise, we have regular training to teach members how to use the equipment safely.”
Who uses makerspaces? 
Makerspaces attract a broad range of people. One group is the hobbyists who have been tinkering at home but want to take their projects to the next level. A makerspace gives them access to tools and equipment that may be too expensive or impractical to have at home, as well as a spacious work area and place to store their projects. 
Korzyniowski said he’s seen interest from local schools, homeschooling groups, parents and teens looking to utilize the makerspace for STEM activities. 
“Parents bring their children in to make things they can’t do at home while also exposing them to a more social atmosphere,” he said. “Then, there’s students in high school who have a project started at school but the school doesn’t have the tools they need, or they want to work on their project at night after the school is closed, so they go to a makerspace.” 
Makerspaces are also popular for business purposes. Established businesses may use a makerspace for projects they can’t do in their office or commercial space. Korzyniowski offered an example of a bicycle repair business in Portsmouth that has a retail location but leases a section of a makerspace to do the bike maintenance work. People who work with computer design programs and need a place to create physical models of their designs may also turn to a makerspace. 
Someone who is interested in or in the early stages of starting a business can use a makerspace to experiment with different ideas and flesh out their plan without taking any major risks. 
“We want to provide them with space and tools to design and develop an idea … and to explore [the process] of turning that idea into a business,” Shrey said. “They can try a variety of things without setting up a full-fledged [collection of] equipment or spending a lot of money.” 
Makerspace community 
A makerspace is more than a place to build things. 
“It’s primarily about the community,” Shrey said. “Many times when someone starts a project, other members wonder what they’re doing and offer to help and get involved. We have members that can do what they’re working on at home, but they’d rather do it here because there’s people here. There’s new ideas.” 
John Cook, a MakeIt Labs member of over five years, works full-time as an engineer and has operated a successful side business selling lighting kits for science fiction scale models for over 10 years. He said places like MakeIt Labs are needed “to stimulate learning, attract talent, and [serve as] a community resource,” and that one of the main reasons he continues his membership is the comradeship.
“I enjoy the social group,” he said. “The place is a magnet for people like me. I can learn a lot by being there, just from my friends.” 

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