I first learned about TechShop several years ago when it was just a place in the San Francisco area. But the idea intrigued me: dozens of high-end, expensive machines for fabrication available for use by the general public for a minimal monthly membership fee (much like a gym membership model). Tinkerers, inventors, wanna-be entrepreneurs, students, small businesses, and even large manufacturing companies all could utilize the unique capabilities and inspiring environment of TechShop. So when I heard that there was a TechShop opening in near me, it would be an understatement to say that I was excited.
APICS Phoenix got a chance to tour this brand-new TechShop facility in Chandler, Arizona for our April PDM. The tour started with the most popular machines - the laser cutters. These Scottsdale-made powerhouses can make precision cuts and etches in a variety of materials, and were used to etch the APICS Phoenix logo into dogtags for each of our attendees. Other examples of laser cut and etched products were displayed outside the computer classroom. All the computers at TechShop are loaded with Autodesk software, which is generally too pricey for most individuals to afford.
Our next stop was a favorite at our previous tour at Local Motors, the 3D printers. Known as rapid prototyping tools, 3D printers empower members to create custom parts without molds or finished plastic products. Also known as additive manufacturing tools, 3D printers add plastic or other materials layer by layer, guided by 3D models designed on the computer.
"Something for everything," our tour guide said as we ventured over to the sewing area. Front and center is the massive CNC embroidery machine. Around the room are various industrial sewing machines as well as a tools for cutting vinyl and screenprinting.
Further into the workspace is an electronics section, which happened to have some small robots there a recent workshop. Then we peered into the woodshop, which has everything you need to form and work with wood, including lathes and table routers.
The smell of Dickey's Barbecue being set up beckoned to us, but we pressed on, into some of the more heavy duty areas. There are areas for TIG and MIG welding, and powder coating, as well as many tools for metal working. Outside is perhaps the most impressive machine, the CNC waterjet. Keeping guard over the waterjet is a giant wooden T-rex model that was made by a TechShop Dream Consultant.
We headed inside to grab our dinner that was now set up by Dickey's Barbecue, while the CNC waterjet was getting set up for a demonstration. When it was ready, we got to see the power of this machine, as it cut and etched stainless steel right before our eyes.
If you are interested in a Corporate Membership with TechShop through APICS Phoenix, please contact Laura Winger at mktg@APICSPhoenix.org.
Thank you to Dickey's Barbecue Pit and TechShop and all of our attendees for making this inspiring event happen!