Makers are gonna make and many of them create at the long-running Hammerspace. Hammerspace has been cranking out Makers since 2011. The workshop is home to a group of creatives that include Makers, artists, crafters and inventors of all skill levels in Kansas City.
I had the privilege of speaking to the owner and creator of Hammerspace, Dave Dalton and he gave me a tour of the massive Makerspace. With over 17,000 square feet, it has one of the best Makerspace tool sets in the country. Fabrication tools include everything from sewing and sculpting, to woodworking, metal working, and digital fabrication with laser, routers, and plasma cutters. If it CAN be made, you can make it here.
It all began when, inspired by design-build workshops like M5 Studios (mythbusters), Dave became part of the local hackerspace, whose focus was primarily electronics and information security. “I loved the idea of the “Hackerspace” but our local effort was light on tools. It was around this time that desktop 3D printers were exploding onto the scene and hackerspaces around the world began building their Makerbot cupcakes and Rep-Rap machines. Overnight hackers became Makers. I recognized that the time had come to build a space completely around having a tool set that covers just about any need for creativity,” and that’s where Hammerspace was born.
Formed out of the seed users recruited from the hackerspace, Dave purchased a space and began building Kansas City’s Makerspace. After 6 years of growth, they moved from their original Brookside-area facility to their new Emanuel Cleaver Blvd. location, a space 3x larger than their previous location. Hammerspace has plenty of space (3 floors and a large warehouse) with rooms and tools for Makers of all ages and skill sets. Hammerspace boasts art rooms, electronic labs, 3d printing labs, a lounge for little Makers with home brewed arcades and legos and more. Located in “The Danger Zone,” you can find woodworking, CNC machining, plasma cutters, metal smithing, laser cutting and additional power tools, large and small.
Makers At Hammerspace
With roughly 100 members and dozens of business clients, Hammerspace creates a support structure for the creators. “The tool set is what brings them together, but it’s the community that keeps them coming back” Dave told me. “I know people who have nice tool sets at home but prefer coming to work here because it keeps their creative juices flowing.” It’s less business networking, but more ‘nerding out’ about what you’re excited about designing. In a similar manner to formal invention process, but doing it informally and for fun.
You don’t have to be an expert mastery maker to join a Makerspace, especially at the Hammerspace. Mentors, staff and other members will encourage the spirit of creativity within. Everybody is a novice when they start something new and Hammerspace has a number of classes available to members and non-members alike. Classes cover many types of fabrications, including knitting, robotics, silversmithing, welding and everything in-between. They provide a ‘safe space’ in the realm of education and mentorship and add classes weekly. View them here.
What skills do you have to have to become a Maker? “You just need a willingness to take the things in your head and bring them out,” said Dave. “Those skills develop along the way…. We have to be comfortable with not being good at something we’re working on and realize that’s okay.”
Hammerspace leads a pack of Makerspaces that offer Micro-Manufacturing services. Small businesses have many options for developing a first prototype and there are many traditional manufacturing options available for creating large batches of parts (30000+ units). Between getting a prototype and those large runs, there is what can be described as a ‘wasteland’ that manufactures don’t touch, but can be an ‘oasis’ for Makerspaces. “Do you want 1 part for a prototype? No problem. Next, do you need 50, 500 or 5,000 parts? No problem.” Dave continued, “Our mission as a Makerspace should be to help them in that startup zone where they don’t yet have a dedicated factory making their product. But they can sell enough units to keep a Makerspace turning parts out for them continuously. And it helps support the tool set that all of our users get to use by pumping money back into the system that makes all of this possible.”
I asked Dave what has surprised him about their Makers, “I’m constantly surprised at the ingenuity. There is something to be said for approaching a problem with a completely fresh look at it. And people who haven’t been stuck doing things the same old way, who are used to new tools, sometimes solve old problems in really interesting ways.” Funded 100% by members and clients, Hammerspace is a community of hard-working Makers. If you’re interested in joining the Hammerspace community, visit their website for a list of services, classes, shop and general FAQ’s.