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September 04, 2006

TechShop makes personal fabrication one step closer

TechShop logo

We are at the dawn of a new revolution, similar in size and ramifications to the personal computer revolution. This revolution is about personal fabrication... the ability to design complex physical objects and then just make them, using a variety of powerful, computer aided tools.

The signs of this revolution are everywhere... in the publication last year of Neil Gershenfeld's(*) book Fab, in the popularity of Make Magazine, in the explosion in the use of computer-aided fabrication devices in design schools.

In not too many years, it will be as commonplace and as simple to crank out a few copies of a chair or lamp that you've designed as it is now to mix and rip some music CDs on your PC.

If you live near Menlo Park, CA (about 30 miles south of San Francisco), you can get a head start on the revolution by joining TechShop. It's an open-to-the-public fabrication facility with just about every tool and machine you could ever want to use... milling machines, 3-D printers, sand blasters, plasma cutters, vacuum casters, silkscreen printing presses, welding rigs... you name it, they got it. And don't worry about not being expert in all of this stuff, they assume most people don't know (yet) how to use these things, so they offer lots of quick classes to get you up to speed.

Use of TechShop is by membership... a monthly pass costs $100, $1,000 dollars gets you a full year. A bargain! I can't wait for them to open a branch in L.A.

(*)There was a good interview with Neil Gershenfeld last year on the public radio program Weekend America.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at September 4, 2006 07:13 AM