As maker hub TechShop expands with a new location in San Jose, Calif., CNET's Boonsri Dickinson takes a tour of the San Francisco operation to see how members are taking prototyping into their own hands.
At Fifth and Howard streets in San Francisco sits TechShop, part of a growing franchise made just for makers. TechShop is designed to have the convenience of a corporate gym mixed with the underground hacker mindset. During CNET's visit, an eclectic bunch of members--including policemen, entrepreneurs, and fashionistas--all huddled in the gym-size playground and took prototyping into their own hands.
TechShop, which opened a new location in San Jose, Calif., this past weekend, puts commercial-scale hacker spaces on the map.
CNET recently got a tour of the 15,000-square-foot San Francisco location led by co-founder Jim Newton. Like a gym membership, anyone can pay to play for $99 a month to use milling machines, welding equipment, and other tools like a 3D printer.
Here, Noah Chittim (right) works the front desk. He greeted us before kindly reminding us to wear safety glasses.
Currently, in addition to San Francisco and the new location in San Jose, Calif., TechShops are located in cities including Menlo Park, Calif. and Raleigh, N.C. In five years, Newton hopes to open up hundreds of TechShops around the nation. Next on his list are Brooklyn, N.Y., and Detroit.
Newton says entrepreneurs often just need a place to hash out their ideas. The view isn't too shabby either, as a large glass window overlooks the main lab.
Newton loves talking about the members who made bamboo iPad cases in the wood shop. After a couple of classes, the iPad case entrepreneur built a thousand cases and had $3 million in revenue. Dodocase has expanded its products to include cases for Kindles and other tablets. Newton says the company moved out for more space so it could begin to outsource some of that manual labor.