How to Use a Makerspace

MakerSpaces (or HackerSpaces) are a place where creative and motivated people can go to work in the company of others, use otherwise inaccessible equipment, and overall just get involved with their local Maker community. However, they can be a little bit overwhelming at first if you have never been to or used one before!

New York Hall of Science MakerSpace.
New York Hall of Science MakerSpace.

The first step is to understand how they work. Most spaces will charge you a flat rate for membership, and the usage of basic materials and then perhaps a bit more for more advanced stuff like 3D printing. Average membership for a fairly large space is about $60/month but you can reference this spreadsheet to do some comparing yourself.

Secondly, don’t be intimidated. Some people will be there building Robosubs, others clothespin pianos, and some homemade hair ties. No matter what difficulty level a project is it is not more or less worthy of a space than the next. A good MakerSpace will keep a healthy and safe community environment where everyone feels welcome, regardless of different skills or skill level.

It can also help to become more familiar with the fancy devices that people use to make their projects come to life!

Commonly used equipment in MakerSpaces are as follows:

Laser Cutters: These can be pretty delicate so make sure to check out some tutorials before using them. Ideally you can get some hands on instruction as well. However once you get the hang of them you can make some pretty neat stuff, such as this Laser Cut Cupid.

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3D Printing: One of the most popular devices on the Maker market today, the possibilities it presents are pretty much limitless. Check out Kaitlyn’s post on how to use the free online program Tinkercad to create awesome prints!

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From gizmodo.com.

CNC Router: Fabulous for woodworking and metalworking. They can be dangerous if operated improperly though, so make sure you get someone to teach you in person how to operate this machine.

Image from notcot.com.
Image from notcot.com.

Soldering Stations: You probably have used one of these before, but many spaces do offer exceptionally high end machines to help you get your wiring all set up!

Keep in mind, all of the aforementioned stations may or may not have a proficiency test you have to pass before operating the equipment. Make sure you ask whoever is in charge of the space if one is required for usage!

Basic MakerSpace Rules:

To avoid any uncomfortable situations, here are some basic rules of etiquette. These may seem like common sense, but it never hurts to be too informed!

  • Don’t use others’ things: Even if you just really need that one last wire to complete your project, and there it is on that robot that nobody has touched in ages make sure you ask before you salvage other’s projects.
  • Know your limits: If you don’t feel 100 percent comfortable using a piece of equipment, please ask someone for help or instruction. Remember, asking for help is a whole lot less embarrassing than trying to explain why the laser cutter no longer functions.
  • Respect others and obey whoever is in charge. Even if you feel you know perfectly well how to use a soldering gun, it is good practice to just listen to instruction and take the test to ensure that the manager of the space and whoever else is working there is comfortable with you using it.

Good luck and get making!

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About Miranda Hansen

I enjoy creative writing, engineering, thinking, building, exploring and sharing with people. Huge aficionado of spending time thinking about things that “don’t matter.” I am very interested in unconstrained creativity. I love cross-discipline ideas and all of their integration into complete original systems. And I like things that do things.

View all posts by Miranda Hansen →

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