What is a “maker space”, anyway?
You may have seen “maker spaces” popping up around your town, especially if you live here in Austin. It seems like there’s a new one every week. And yet, few people know what they are. So, let’s discuss!
Simply put, anyone can go to a maker space to share resources and knowledge involved in creating things.
In these spaces, people gather to create, invent and learn.
Sometimes, this kind of innovation takes supplies, and supplies aren’t always cheap. Thankfully, these spaces can carry things like 3D printers, software, electronics, hardware, tool, craft supplies and much more! This opens up the creative process to more people by removing financial constraints.
Also, because of the diversity of creative outlets that come with maker spaces, you may hear them referred to by several names – hacker space, hackspaces and fablabs, among others.
Where can I find one?
You’re in luck! Austin is home to several across the city. Some are more general, while others cater to a specific craft.
BatLab makerspace: Located in in the library at Austin Community College’s Highland campus, this space offers 3D prints, Arduino electronic controllers, and workshops on Raspberry Pi programming, in addition to several other tools. Do know that this one is only open to students, faculty and staff.
UT MakerSpace: Another great option for students, this extension of the Fine Arts Library provides the resources to create “all aspects of performance, game development, music production, digital visual arts and other forms of digital entertainment,” according to their web page.
TechShop Round Rock: TechShop happens to host a range of maker spaces across the country, so you can trust that the tools and events here will be top-notch.
According to their site, “Each of our facilities includes laser cutters, plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a woodshop, a metalworking shop, a textiles department, welding stations, class and conference rooms, and much more. Members have open access to design software, featuring the Autodesk Design Suite.”
They also host instructional classes and events for members.
ATX Hackerspace: Located in north east Austin, this 8,000 square foot space is perfect for projects involving machinery, mess or loud noises.
Great for heavy-duty crafts like woodworking, etching, spray painting and soldering!
The Thinkery’s Space 8: Also located in north east Austin, The Thinkery is a wonderful science museum designed to show kids the inspiring world of science and technology.
With the opening of Space 8, kids now have a chance to work with advanced tools and materials to learn new skills and recreate some of the wonders they experience in the museum. Children can try their hands at things like sewing, woodworking and animation, among others. This is the perfect option for families.
Craft: Another eastside option closer to downtown, Craft focuses on being a space for learning and cultivating creativity.
As a bonus, you can get as messy as you want here without worry, because the staff graciously cleans up after you! Craft also has coworking arrangements and hosts plenty of workshops.
These are just a handful of the many fabulous maker spaces in Austin, as new ones are popping up often. If you want to learn even more about maker spaces, check out this meetup of other tinkerers in the area!