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Stan Simmons, member of the Dallas Makerspace led the tour.  Yes, the T-Shirt Stan is wearing was silk-screened at the Dallas Makerspace.  Stan joined Dallas Makerspace three years ago when he needed a space to work on his bike. At that time the Dallas Makerspace (a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization) had about 35 members.  Today it has 913 members, most of whom pay $50 a month.  Additional members in a family each pay $10 a month.  Students and seniors pay $35 a month.

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A Makerspace is many things.

Last night I toured the Dallas Makerspace and now I’m more determined than ever that we should have one in Garland.  A Makerspace is many things.  It is a place where art and creativity meet and blend with science.  It is a place where the American local economy is being rebuilt one creative entrepreneur at a time.  It is a place for dreamers and builders of all ages.  It is a place for families and singles.  People interested in Makerspaces (judging from the crowd of about 25 people on the tour I attended) represent a melting pot range of ages, colors and cultures.   

 

From Wood Chisels to High-Tech 3-D Printers

Makerspaces are filled with tools for making.

It is a place where bridges are being constructed from the past to the future.  It is an exciting blend of ancient technologies such as blacksmithing, somewhat old radio technologies like Ham radio and the latest modern technologies like 3-D printing. It is a place where those who have certain skills teach them to others. For example, one of the Dallas Makerspace members is a blacksmith.  On Sundays, he teaches lessons in blacksmithing.  It is a happening, fun and interesting place where bright, hopeful, positive, creative individuals will surround you and support you in achieving your dreams.

Speaking of achieving dreams, six members of the Dallas Makerspace have successfully secured funds for their various projects from Kickstarter, an online funding site.  The total amount of money they have raised as individuals exceeds $50,000.   (Below is the link to a story of one of these members, Haley Moore.  Haley raised over $17,000 on Kickstarter and was able to purchase here own laser cutter.) http://blog.toenolla.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Press-Release-Laser-Lace-Letters.pdf

Makerspaces don't have to be large, but the Dallas Makerspace is huge.

 The current location for the Dallas Makerspace is at 1835 Monetary Lane in Carrollton Texas.  This space is 17,000 square feet. Following is the link to a video tour of the Dallas Maker space when they were still at 2995 Lady Bird Lane.  It explains all the basics of what is happening at the current space today—just imagine more of the same, better and prettier.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDv19ReMtl0   

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 You must sign a liability waiver before entering the work area.

They must have some lawyers among their members because before you can leave the waiting room and enter the shop area, you have to complete and sign a digital liability waiver. This is not a bad idea and one that I would suggest for any Makerspace.   Makerspaces, because of all the equipment and tools, can be a dangerous place.

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Experiments and Art

The members make just about everything you can and cannot imagine—from welded sculptures to wooden tables.  In addition to making things, the Makerspace is also a place where people can use some of the equipment to conduct experiments.

For example, some members there are studying various types of LED lights to be used for growing plants in an indoor aquaponic setting.

 

 

                                                                                                      Nicole Franczvai

After all art is nothing if not an experiment in redefining reality.  Thus it is entirely appropriate that creative arts should be an important focal point in any Makerspace. I was happy to meet Nicole as I missed an interesting and free workshop she held the night before “Re-Work Workshop for “Trash to Frame” Art show at DMS on August 1. 

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Where is all this activity going?

Since I’m not a seer, I can’t tell you, but consider this recent information from the Smithsonian and you might have a better picture of the potential.

 

3-D Printers Can Make Body Parts

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine prints ear, nose and bone scaffolds that can be coated with cells to grow body parts. [From The Smithsonian http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-lies-ahead-for-3-d-printing-37498558/?no-ist=&page=2; accessed 7/17/20150

 In addition to this, 3-D printers are already being used to create prosthetics that work as good as the real parts.

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Sawdust, Inc. – a creative inspiration for a company came from just an hour of hanging around Dallas Makerspace

The woodworking shop is one of the most popular areas of the Makerspace.  Stan mentioned that it produces lots of sawdust every week.  I asked him what they did with the sawdust.  He said they take it out to the dumpster.  Now that’s a missed opportunity.  In fact, I think that just about anything taken to the dumpster represents a missed opportunity that we should rethink.   Sawdust can be used for all sorts of things—among them is compost, but it should not be used as a mulch.  When sawdust is breaking down, it uses a lot of nitrogen in the process so if you use it as mulch, it will rob your plants of nitrogen.  However you can put it in compost piles that you plan to compost for at least 18 months before bringing it into the garden.  It would be a great addition for the ingredients of a hugelkultur.

But there are many other creative uses for sawdust.  For example, instead of salt, which alters the pH of the soil and groundwater, use sawdust for icy sidewalks and roads.  HEY!  Perhaps this is a potential Kickstarter project.  What do you think?

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Let’s all start moving toward creating a better world by rethinking what we do with our stuff we call junk and waste.  If I were queen, garbage disposals would be against the law.

FOR MORE ABOUT THE DALLAS MAKERSPACE, visit their website at http://dallasmakerspace.org

Better yet:  take a tour of their space.  Thursday July 23 at 7PM.

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