TechShop Bankrupt, Maker Community mourns by taking action

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Helping you onboard your design skills and fabrication resources to people who need help, allowing you to easily quote their work.
  4. 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:

  1. Marc Roth – CEO of Abricate – facilitating discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack and elsewhere.
  2. Circuit Launch – Is offering two months free membership to former TechShop members.
  3. Inventables, FormLabs, LittleBits and Inventables have offered some nice discounts for TechShop members who were impacted.
  4. 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
  5. You3Dit Machine Map –  to see machines in your area (some may sadly be TechShop machines)
you3dit-map-11-2017

You3Dit machine map as of November 2017: https://www.you3dit.com/map

Do you know someone or a business that should be added to this list?  Please let us know:

http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers

Contribute to Online and Offline Conversations:

  1. Caleb Kraft from Make Magazine has contributed this major list of hackerspaces and makerspaces nationwide.
  2. 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
  3. Join the SF Bay Area Makers & Hackers Slack Channel
  4. Join the TechShop Orphans Facebook group – requires admin approval
  5. 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: chris@you3dit.com  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.

Sincerely,

Chris D. McCoy

chris@you3dit.com

 

Autodesk TechWomen 2016

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Last Friday, September 16th, we had the privilege to meet and share our passion for 3D printing with approximately 100x TechWomen leaders in the Autodesk Gallery at One Market Place in San Francisco.

The TechWomen program is organized by the Institute of International Education (IIE)–the same governmental group that is responsible for the Fulbright Scholarship and other programs that embrace their mission “to advance international education and access to education worldwide.”

Each year Autodesk hosts these women for an entire day and provides mentorship along with exposure to design, leadership and product-oriented workshops.  Autodesk is one of their first stops during their 6 week Silicon Valley trip and these women spend the entire day learning about topics like leadership to product design.

You3Dit for the second year has participated with Autodesk and works with their top-employees to help facilitate these workshops–illustrating the power and capability of 3D printing to transform manufacturing with a talk co-founder & CEO Chris McCoy gives entitled “iManufacture” (Download the PDF of the iManufacture talk from TechWomen 2016 here).

Lori Chen–You3Dit’s co-founder and COO–also took the opportunity to learn a bit more about Autodesk Fusion360 from our co-presenters Ryan Arnaudin and Taylor Stein from Autodesk.  These TechWomen leaders learned how to quickly design an airplane using T-splines and then a bottle cap using more traditional parametric modeling.  They both elegantly showed how easy it was to get started with Autodesk Fusion360.

 

Above: the T-splined airplanes generated by these women were then (upon request) 3D printed during the networking session in the Autodesk Gallery.

“It was pretty amazing what the women were able to CAD up in such a short amount of time…” said Chris D. McCoy.  “This is a testament to [Fusion360] and the ‘ease of access’ of the software and their product evangelists, Ryan and Taylor.”  Autodesk gives away the Fusion360 licenses for free, for educators, makers and entrepreneurs, per the request of their CEO, Carl Bass.

In a post-event reflection, Chris stated that “the cultural differences between U.S. citizens and these women leaders from the Middle East highlight the opportunities for collaboration…in both directions…and it’s amazing that we can find mutual connection through technology…in this case 3D printing and 3D design.  What [Americans] see as ‘problems’ are so relative sometimes when compared to challenges found in other developing nations.”

You3Dit strongly believes that our global network and community could help people find solutions to problems in their regions.  Having designers and fabricators in over 30 countries, solutions can be crowdsourced globally and then fabricated locally.  Now that these TechWomen leaders know what’s possible, they can begin to support these capabilities back at home.

Any TechWomen 2016 leader who reads this and wants to get their airplane or bottle cap 3D printed, reach out to support@you3dit.com and we can help you get your Fusion360 parts fabricated!

HUGE THANKS and shout outs to Ms. Bobbie Casey from Autodesk Foundation, Mr. Ryan Arnaudin and Taylor Stein for making this event possible! Also big thanks to our SFmototype BotFarm for printing out Lumka’s Fusion360 design file!