The UMF MakerSpace

I realized yesterday that we opened our MakerSpace with a soft launch last semester, and we haven’t really spread the word much just yet. I could have sworn I blogged about it, but . . . it was a crazy semester. So I was reminded yesterday that people might not know what I’m talking about when I mention a MakerSpace. Allow me to rectify that, at least in terms of what my MakerSpace is.

Basically, it’s a spot on campus, open to the public, where people can come to get access to a variety of higher end creative devices that might be beyond their individual budgets. It costs to use the machines (just like it costs to make photocopies or print), but we’re trying to keep those costs down to a minimum. What sort of equipment do we have?

  • Ultimaker 3D Printers: These are your typical 3D printing machines. They take plastic filament and print it into pretty much any shape you want. These printers handle water soluble filament, which means you can print supports that will dissolve in water, letting you print some objects that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
  • Resin Printer: This uses liquid resin to 3D print smaller items with much greater detail. It can take longer, but the end product looks like something you’d buy in the store, as opposed to something that was clearly 3D printed. It’s pretty cool.
  • Vinyl Printer: This will print out stickers, banners, window clings, and more. Basically anything made out of vinyl, which I guess is pretty apparent. Full color, great resolution. You can make really professional looking things with that.
  • Embroidery Machine: Likewise, think about all the things you buy with stitching on them. From personalized merchandise to logos to cartoon characters and more. This will do all of that. It can handle fairly large jobs as well. Tomas used it to personalize a bunch of fleece blankets the cross country team gave out. It can do any color thread you want to load into it, so they sky’s the limit.
  • Laser Cutter: This will cut through or engrave plastic and wood. You can add pictures, make puzzles, carve out shapes, and more. I made some Groundhog Day ornaments with it yesterday.
  • Engraver: This does the same thing as the laser cutter, except it uses a blade instead of a laser, so it’s essentially carving the wood or etching the metal. Still figuring this one out.
  • Poster Printer: Think of a glossy, high quality poster you’d buy in the store. Now make whatever one you want, and have it look however you want.
  • Sticker Printer: This churns out small stickers like you’d find in a kid’s activity book. Not necessarily long lasting, but quick and easy.
  • Jewelry Maker: The MakerSpace club bought this last semester. It makes metal jewelry of some sort, but I haven’t used it yet, and I don’t know how it works. More to come.
  • Mug Maker: Buy a blank coffee mug, and make it into whatever kind of mug you want.
  • Hat Maker: Print onto baseball caps. What a world we live in!

Beyond that, we have computers with the full Adobe suite on them, so you can pretty much do whatever you want to do, if you have the patience to teach yourself how to do it. (Right now I’m working on beefing up my Illustrator chops.)

Basically, we want to be there to let people prototype products and figure out how to do or make whatever they want. We’re not set up to have people run their business out of our place, so it’s not really designed for mass production, but someone could definitely figure out how to go into business with what we have to offer.

Anyway. That’s one of my big projects this semester: getting this all up and running. If you’re local, and any of this sounds interesting, reach out to me and we can talk about what we can do to help you.


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