Everyone has at least a few good ideas in their lifetime--everyone's uncle seems to have 20 good ones--but not everyone has the resources to recognize their vision. Tools, materials and skills are very difficult to obtain unless you happen to own a workshop, or know somebody that does. Now you do. With TechShop opening its doors to tinkerers all over, those ideas can be executed, further stirring up the innovation coming out of the Bay Area and elsewhere around the country.
On October 1, 2006 Jim Newton and Ridge McGhee opened the first TechShop located in Menlo Park, California. Inspired by students in his robotics class at the College of San Mateo, Newton wanted to create a place where people could come to build their dreams. Today, machines of every kind, and people that know how to use them, fill TechShop locations across the country.
The original TechShop in Menlo Park is now joined by Raleigh, NC; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Detroit, MI; Austin, TX; and coming soon, Brooklyn, NY. What's interesting about each location is that, while they offer the same basic machines and workspaces, each city tends to influence the focus of the shop. For instance, the car culture pervades in Detroit, whereas motorcycles are most popular in San Francisco.
TechShop provides the training you'll need to become a modern-day renaissance person. Members have a whole suite of heavy duty equipment ( here's a list) at their disposal, as well as a compliment of computer design tools from sponsored partner Autodesk. Instructors are on hand to assist TechShop members and ensure a safe working environment.
The Autodesk Rallier Roadster that we test drove during our episode is the perfect example of how TechShop can help bring an idea into reality. The design for the retro roadster was finalized in Autodesk and instructions were exported and sent to water cutting tools where all the body panels were produced. From there, assembly was straightforward. $5000 and some long hours in the shop with friends made it happen.
While prices vary between locations, members can expect to pay anywhere from $125-$175 per month; less if you are a student. In addition to the access to training and the tools, TechShop also offers events to bring people together. For example, Ford is hosting info sessions on technology, app development, and electrification at TechShop Menlo Park tomorrow. Forums like TechShop attract the brightest minds in the area to solve tomorrow's problems.