It’s taken us some time to process the magnitude and impact of the recent news that TechShop declared chapter 7 bankruptcy. Many of the fabricators in our network leveraged the tools provided by the TechShop to conduct much of our clients’s fabrication work. Those users productivity all has since stopped, delayed expected delivery dates for project work and has pushed that fabrication demand originally supplied by TechShop members onto our You3Dit independent laser, CNC machine and 3D Printer owner / operators. We’ve scrambled a bit internally to reroute the fabrication of several jobs and are back on track for the short term (HUGE THANKS to our You3Dit fabricators who stepped up). We want to help others do the same.
However as of this writing, TechShop is still bankrupt, closed an leaving many people stranded who need help with getting access to machines. We have to figure out what we’re going to do next to solve the long-term issues created by the absence of the TechShop ecosystem and answer the questions: What are we going to do in the immediate-term to help people suffering from the TechShop closure? Short term? and long term?
Currently, our You3Dit local fabricators can only do so much to fill in the gaping hole the TechShop closing has put into our Maker community heart. This has especially hurt the small-business owners and other independent contractors who’s livelihood was depended on the existence of TechShop. Much of the value they put into their products is the craftsmanship stemming from a deep knowledge of how to use the TechShop tools and ecosystem which has imploded. The way the bankruptcy was handled seems to have left a lot of people in the dark causing real suffering and panic about how these businesses are going to recover in both in the immediate, short and long term. Many of these TechShop members own tools and materials (worth thousands of dollars) were stored at TechShops and are now locked up waiting for some response from our court system about next steps (updates on this can be found below). There are many valid reasons to be majorly upset, angry and frustrated at the current situation.
Suffering makers, business owners and all others painfully impacted by the TechShop closure: we hear you and we want to help. You’re not in this fight alone.
Let this blog post be a start to our effort at You3Dit to help these stranded businesses, independent contractors and all others get back on their feet and with access to the tools they desperately need. This is no doubt going to be difficult, but as Makers we’re innately poised to solve this major challenge and there is reason to be hopeful.
Reasons to be hopeful: Makers are builders and consequently, re-builders. The Maker community is vibrant and is eager to get this problem resolved. Many people are already jumping in to help.
As makers, we’re used to breaking things, figuring out why they broke and re-designing the solution to prevent future failures. We used to do this daily at one of many TechShop locations. Now that is much more difficult. But there’s hope…We used to say that You3Dit is “TechShop in the cloud”. You3Dit has 3D designers and fabricators in over 34 countries today who can likely help impacted TechShop members build and re-build an alternative production infrastructure that can help them get their work completed for the holidays.
IMMEDIATE EFFORTS AND WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
Here are some ways You3Dit is committed to start helping immediately:
- Provide you paid You3Dit 3D design work which you can reinvest into outsourced fabrication and production. This work can be found here: https://beta.you3dit.com
- Offer our You3Dit fabrication services and for a limited time, re-invest a portion of the proceeds on affected TechShop member projects back into the purchase of new machines for your business: 3D Printers, Laser Cutters, CNC machines, etc. By aggregating our purchases together, we should be able to negotiate bulk pricing deals.
- Helping you onboard your design skills and fabrication resources to people who need help, allowing you to easily quote their work.
- Open to other ideas…let us know what kind of help you need or what type of help you can offer: http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers
The following people and businesses have already offered support and leadership directly to TechShop impacted parties:
- Marc Roth – CEO of Abricate – facilitating discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack and elsewhere.
- Circuit Launch – Is offering two months free membership to former TechShop members.
- Inventables, FormLabs, LittleBits and Inventables have offered some nice discounts for TechShop members who were impacted.
- You3Dit – Design resources. Fabrication resources. Limited-time partial reimbursement of service fees for purchase of tools to get impacted members back on their feet. See above
- You3Dit Machine Map – to see machines in your area (some may sadly be TechShop machines)
Do you know someone or a business that should be added to this list? Please let us know:
Contribute to Online and Offline Conversations:
- Caleb Kraft from Make Magazine has contributed this major list of hackerspaces and makerspaces nationwide.
- Reddit Forums – there are many. This one talks about some of the issues of why this may have all happened and some offer very detailed points
- Join the SF Bay Area Makers & Hackers Slack Channel
- Join the TechShop Orphans Facebook group – requires admin approval
- Thanks to Jim S. and his colleagues, here’s the Hacker Dojo TechShop Townhall meeting minutes from the Hacker Dojo meetup that happened November 20th, 2017. Lots of important data, information and resources for California TechShop members / orphans.
Have others? let us know: http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers
SHORT-TERM EFFORTS AND WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Keep the discussion going – the TechShop used to be the meet up location for many Makers (speaking for myself in the SF Bay Area). We need to find alternative places to get in sync and make progress on rebuilding the Maker ecosystem. Please inform as many people as you can using the above discussion points, forums and Slack channels to coordinate your efforts so we can all stay involved as much as we can be.
Facilitate Meet Ups – for those of you who have venues or makerspaces that can host orphaned Makers, please let us know. You can add your resources to the above help TechShop Members Google Form or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org Would be eager to co-host something in December 2017 to keep the discussion and access to resources increasing. I’d recommend a meet up 1x/month until things get back on their feet is probably the right cadence. There are folks who are coordinating as we speak in the Facebook group.
LONGER-TERM EFFORTS – TO BE DETERMINED
Despite the closure of TechShop nationwide, there exists a vibrant, active and AMAZING maker community that TechShop helped grow. We need to find a way to keep it alive and thriving. While the dust settles, it will be come clearer what the long-term solution(s) can and should be. For ideas and thoughts on how to
At the TechShop, we’ve met many incredible people, made meaningful and lasting friendships and helped so many people build their dreams, but that can’t stop in 2017 because we had a makerspace closure. There still millions of people who are still in pursuit of their dreams. Let’s do whatever we can to make the most out of this major maker challenge.
Thanks in advance to everyone who is willing to help. May the Maker Community come out of this crisis stronger, with new friendships and more resilient than ever.
Chris D. McCoy