Maker-spaces are a relatively new phenomenon that allow practical men and women to take advantage of tools and machines to complete their dream DIY projects and perfect their skills. Many of these places (also known as 'hackerspaces') provide laser cutters, wood-making tools and even 3D printers. Here, we investigate some of Melbourne's best maker-spaces.
Located in Brunswick, Make-Create is a maker-space that offers memberships for as little as $50 per month (half that for students and the unemployed). In addition to a variety of the kinds of tools you’d expect a makerspace to have an offer, Make-Create owns a CNC router, a laser cutter, and a 3D printer and scanner that’s apparently big enough to model an actual human being. With their classes, one can even learn how to make a 3D printer — and even a drone!
The Hawthorn-based maker-space CCHS is a community workshop run by locals passionate about creating everything from drones to clocks to bots. Their focus is on getting groups of like-minded people together to create and problem-solve, and they welcome curious individuals without expertise to come along to join in the fun and learn something new. They meet several times a week and tackle larger projects as a group. It’s fantastic for those who want an introduction into the world of creation and innovation.
To the west of Melbourne’s CBD, in Footscray, the Footscray Maker Lab has created a community of individuals collaborating for a greater purpose – to drive innovation in areas that can have a positive impact ecologically and socially, with a focus on supporting its members and the community. They work in areas like woodworking, metalworking, digital media production, eco-design, 3D printing, art installations, and open-source hardware, inviting people to come in with a project in mind that they can help see through to completion.
While not technically a ‘maker-space’, The Fox Darkroom is a photographic studio open to the public. It was founded by Tom Goldner: a photographer with an interest in looking out for others, having created the ‘Photo for Freedom’ project in 2010 that saw $85,000 raised to fight child slavery in Ghana (what a dude!). The Fox Darkroom offers both experienced and new-to-the-art photographers alike the chance to use their darkroom and attend workshops on the nostalgic art of printing black-and-white photographs the old fashioned way. It’s a welcome, social atmosphere, and so they invite you to bring along a mate.
Space Tank Studio is the gold-standard in maker-spaces, offering nearly everything serious makers need under one roof. With a sharp commercial focus, they provide access to equipment that many creators and innovators simply can’t access without serious money behind them. There’s woodworking machinery, a welding bay, a fabrication space, access to 3D printers and scanners and laser cutters, 12 large studios for those who need to work without distraction, and an entire ‘tool library’, plus a chill-out space and coffee bar. For those with a project in mind, who need the space and tools to finish the job without distraction (and without huge overheads), Space Tank Studio is the place to go.
Located about an hour and half’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD, the Ballarat Hackerspace operates under Thomas Edison’s famous quote, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk”. They provide regular meetups and ‘general hacker’ nights to educate and link up members of the community with an interest in making stuff. They’re also open for public walk-ins for the curious, so if you’re a man, woman or child with a project in mind but you wouldn’t know where to start, drop by and talk to one of their team. By the way, the next workshop they’re planning is all about making a functioning ‘multicopter’ and they’re looking for interested parties now.