Several years ago I had a day dream: as an apartment dweller I thought, wouldn't it be cool if there was a big space with sewing machines and saws, where you could have the space and equipment to work on projects?
Well, now there is!
Makerhaus opened it's doors in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood nearly a year ago. Co-founder Ellie Kemery says they created the 2,000 square foot community space to encourage innovation and creativity, for people who can't afford their own equipment.
"We have a full wood shop, metal shop, we have 3-D printing, laser cutting," Ellie said. "We have industrial sewing, we also have an electronics lab. Members actually get free 3-D printing and free laser cutting."
Her husband, co-founder Mike Kemery, says the average person just doesn't have access to something like a 3D printer.
"This large, red metal box right here, we call this Big Red, this is our laser cutter. We cut wood, we cut acrylic, plastic, cardboard, textiles, leather. We engrave and etch glass and metal. Architects come in, industrial designers come in. They create toys, they create jewelry. A lot of people were busy working on holiday gifts using both the 3-D printer and the laser cutter."
Ellie and Mike say members range from hobbyists to small business owners to crowdfunders and entrepreneurs looking for an affordable way to make products or prototypes. Everyone from college students to 70 year olds who have been waiting decades to bring an idea to life. The cool thing is, you don't have to know how to use the equipment to take advantage of Makerhaus.
"We have, at any given time, maybe 20 classes happening," said Ellie. "Ranging in topics from entrepreneurship to designing for 3-D printing or woodworking and metal working. We even have a Welding for Women's class, How to Have an Effective Kickstarter, we have classes like Intro to Rhino CAD."
So that's Makerhaus...
On the more scientific spectrum, there is a new space in Seattle called Hive Bio, a DIY bio lab where scientists or scientists-in-training can have access to lab equipment to do projects and experiments. Equipment like a Vortex, which is used in experiments I cannot even begin to understand.
"It's a PCR, polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies DNA," Chief Science Officer Michael Galdzicki attempts to explain to me what one might use the Vortex for. "So it takes a sample of DNA and makes enough of it so you can measure it..."
Hive Bio was founded by Bergen McMurray.
"The point of the lab is to be a community run biosciences lab. So the concept is kind of like the concept of a gym. People pay a membership fee and and in exchange they get access to our space, our equipment, and classes, lectures, workshops, things like that."
So you can learn to do everything from extract DNA from a strawberry to dissect a sheep's brain. Bergin is not a scientist by trade; she edits photos for Zulili. But she became interested in neuroscience several years ago.
"My son was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when he was six. The psychotherapist wanted to give him lithium. It seemed like a bad idea to me to put an anti-psychotic into the developing brain of a six year old. So I decided to do my own research and come up with an alternate solution. Make a long story short, I did. But what I found out in that process is that I really like researching neuroscience."
While everyone is welcome at Hive Bio, if you want to do a big project there you must submit a request so that the Safety, Science, Ethics and Education Board can approve your project, to make sure you're not going to create anything dangerous or illegal.