Sometimes a project calls for electroluminescent paper, aluminum foam, and an industrial sewing machine. Until recently, finding specialty tools and a space to use them in was an idea-halting issue for hobbyists and inventors without a DuPont or 3M keycard. Ellie and Mike Kemery felt the pain of Seattle’s so-called makers, so last winter they opened MakerHaus in Fremont to provide those creative minds with the tools, materials, and community to make their impossible projects possible.
The materials library is like a Home Depot for the emerging technologist, giving members (monthly dues run from $119 to $499) affordable access to materials they otherwise might not have known existed. Need just a little eco-friendly neoprene? Now you can buy a small quantity at a reasonable price.
MakerHaus has TIG welders, drill presses, and band saws, but 3D printers and laser cutters are its choicest equipment. The 3D printers the Kemerys use can print layers as thin as six-thousandths of an inch and produce objects with interlocked, movable parts. But at a price of up to $125,000—Ellie calls them the Ferraris of the industry—they’d be out of reach for the average maker working alone.
Safety definitely comes first here. Glasses are always required in work spaces, and MakerHaus’s shop master leads new members through the wood and metal shops to gauge their familiarity with each piece of equipment. And if he’s not satisfied, they’re required to attend a five-week training program.
“It sounds crazy, but we only have 10,000 square feet,”
Mike says. In other words, the space has to be versatile to make room for all of that creativity. The open floor plan and hinged walls of the main room give it flexibility to be divided into multiple classrooms, plus a workspace. Or it can open up into a big gallery for community events and workshops.
MakerHaus targets experienced fabricators and inventors, but it’s open to up-and-coming creatives as well. The Kemerys host workshops and classes in several spaces throughout the building, on everything from launching a Kickstarter campaign to the basics of laser cutting for kids.
Published: June 2013