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

 

In order to 3D print, you need a 3D Design file…we’re here to help you!

We often get requests to “3D print” something, an image or sketch or what have you where the client asks this simply to be “fabricated”.  In our simple 3 step process:

  1. Client submits a new project
  2. New project is 3D Designed (client is provided the 3D Design files, e.g. *.STL)
  3. Project is Fabricated (e.g. 3D Printed)

This request effectively translates into “please start at step #1, skip step #2, and then proceed to step #3.”

sketch-design-solid

Step #1: Client submits a Sketch.  Step #2 You3Dit Designers transform sketch into a 3D Design (CAD File).  Step #3) You3Dit Fabricator makes part(s) (3D printed, laser cut, CNC machined, etc.).  We can’t skip step #2 today…the bolded stepThe example project is a product is known as the “BuddyGripper”, a smartphone tripod & stand: http://www.buddygripper.com

As of this writing, there is no automated process that we’re familiar with that can automate step #2 and thus, it requires some human involvement to transform the client request into the 3D CAD Design file that is needed to “3D Print” or fabricate in any number of digital fabrication methods.  We are actively pursuing research to support our Design Acquisition System (DAS) but it’s not ready for prime time…yet.  But do not worry, there is still hope for your project!

Our 3D Design network is full of amazingly capable people with 3D Design skills and we’re 99.9% certain that someone in our marketplace can get you a personalized 3D Design and help you “3D Print”…or fabricate in the best method possible based on your timeline, budget and quality expectations.

Once you’ve gone through our sketch > 3D Design process (step #2), that 3D Design file enables the myriad machines in our marketplace to help you get your part(s) fabricated.  These machines need those digital 3D Design Files to know how to move their extruder nozzle tips, machining spindles and laser heads in order to fabricate your concept.  No matter how much we shout at these machines or patiently describe to them what we want, english and photos are not currently a language our machines speak.  They need translators and those are humans combined with a Computer Aided Design tool.

How much does this cost?  Read this blog post:

What does it cost to design and fabricate a prototype?

Have any other questions?  Simply comment below!

Common pitfalls and workarounds on You3Dit Beta

Thank you so much for being part of our all new, fully-functional You3Dit Beta platform–a marketplace of designers & fabricators that transform client napkin sketches into real physical parts.  Starting first with IoT and Industrial Prototyping clients.

Eventually, this will become the new You3Dit.com.  However it’s currently in “Beta Test” mode which Google defines as: “a trial of machinery, software, or other products, in the final stages of its development.”  Running a Beta Test allows product developers to quickly find the rough spots in a product so that they can be resolved.

This article intends to help you get through the most common roadblocks on your way to developing your new part, product or prototype.

These are in order of importance (as measured by the frequency and pain observed in beta clients using the platform):

  1. The avatar (for new projects, new quotes, iterations)
  2. No email notifications?
  3. Can’t login
  4. Can’t edit my project
  5. Can’t edit my quote
  6. Where are my design files?

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