Dream it, Design it, Make it @theMAKLAB

January 13, 2015

MAKLAB is Scotland’s first & largest open access digital fabrication workshop. Bruce Newlands, Founding Director, discusses the history of MAKLAB, what opportunities are available and how you can take advantage of its technologies to turn your dreams in to a reality… 

MAKLAB

We are at an exciting moment in the history of ‘making’.

New approaches to manufacturing, combined with easier access to technology mean that more and more people have the capacity to take their ideas for products rapidly through prototypes towards fully functional working products.

Computer numerically controlled manufacturing technology has been around for decades in industry but much like computers and mobile phones have moved from novelty devices for the few to mass consumer products for the many, so too has the means of manufacture & prototyping. It’s only now that young people, creative start-ups and ‘ordinary’ people who are getting ready access to these technologies through spaces like MAKLAB.

Image 001

Industry standard digital fabrication & prototyping equipment accessible to the general public & SME’s Credit: MAKLAB

Digital fabrication technologies have been steadily transferring from industry to the garage with a burgeoning Maker scene in the United States and the development of a making culture through hackspacesfablabstech shops and a multitude of other makerspace like MAKLAB – all offering different access models for all types of user.

Image 002MAKLAB supports young creative start-ups, allowing them space to develop, whilst keeping capital costs low. Credit: MAKLAB

The emergence, development & proliferation of affordable 3D printers offer the prospect of mass customisation and potentially the democratisation of design that breaks free from traditional assumptions of designer and client introducing a range of ethical and business model issues, which could significantly disrupt established commercialisation paths through open innovation strategies.

The technologies however are only the platform on which this paradigm shift is based on. A new generation of creative makers promises to bring these sophisticated means of production into the home, applying it to everything from making furniture to printing jewellery; from making medical aids to printing buildings.

Image 003Jake Evill’s Cortex arm cast prototype, lightweight, ventilated, washable and thin enough to fit under a shirt sleeve. Credit: Dezeen

It is this sophisticated networked ‘making culture’ that is at the heart of the change. This is a culture sustained through social media networkingswappingsharingco-operating and collaborating. Their practices and techniques are embedded in the powerful concept of a global village of local makers, an aspect of the circular economy that is increasingly attracting interest from government and educators with programmes such as the RSA’s Great Recovery.

Image 004MAKLAB workshop where experienced makers share their skills with others Credit: MAKLAB

Notions of intellectual property are being challenged through approaches such as the open source movement, where you can build on someone else’s work in return for publishing your work under the same license and sharing back any changes. ‘Hacking’ clubs that encourage people to dismantle, understand and ‘mod’ existing products with new and additive functions offer shared environments for innovation. These are ideas that suit the nimbleness of being innovative and small, of embracing the power of a network whilst demonstrating a healthy ‘autodidactism’ that challenges our current linear economies. They offer opportunities for technology to be taken in new directions, as different makers in different contexts find different ways of utilising the resources available to them.

Image 005MAKLAB’s 3D Studio Space at 30 St Georges Road, Glasgow, G3 6UJ

MAKLAB as Scotland’s first & largest open access digital fabrication workshop is a space to address some of these issues. We are open to the public and designers alike to access these technologies and for them to be trained on how to use them to turn their ideas and concepts into reality. At its core, MAKLAB is about open access to the technology and skills, so if you are in Glasgow take the chance to visit us, meet the team and see the equipment in action!

We are open to the public 9-5pm most days and run evening training workshops for you to learn prototyping skills.