Manufacturing and building things seems to be trendy these days. Reality/documentary shows like How It’s Made, Myth Busters and American Chopper have large followings of people fascinated by the industrial arts in a similar manner to the cooking enthusiasts who religiously watch the Food Channel.
The difference between those programs however, is that the aspiring chefs can conveniently go into their kitchens and try to create the risotto they’ve just seen prepared, but the average American Chopper viewer can only imagine the experience of customizing a motor cycle, because he or she usually does not have the tools, the space or the training necessary for such projects.
But now a place exists for the amateur industrial experimenter to get a crack at emulating what they’ve just seen on TV.
TechShop, located in San Francisco, is a membership based do it yourself fabrication shop and workshop. Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop, calls it “a health club for makers and geeks and artists and tinkerers.” A fee of $100 a month gets a person access to the facility, which contains all the tools a person would need to make anything they want, including machine tools, woodworking tools, digital prototyping tools, 3D printers, a textiles lab, an electronics lab, an auto lab, a software lab, welding equipment, sewing equipment, and laser cutters.
TechShop also offers classes on how to use the machines, and members have a great community in which to share knowledge and ideas. Hatch says that hundreds of people go there every month to learn how to make things.