Juneau Makerspace moves into community workspace

For those who love to make things and tinker, finding the right tools and work space can be difficult and expensive.

In recent years, many people have been turning to community workshops known as “makerspaces.” Members of these organizations have access to a shared workspace and tools for their own personal projects — anything from artwork to prototyping new products.

Now, the fledgling Juneau Makerspace is bringing this movement to the capital city.

About a year ago, founder Sam Bornstein started the nonprofit as a place for like-minded creators to “come and build their dreams.” Although he currently works in finance, his passion for engineering inspired him to start the organization in his spare time.

“Anyone who wants to create or make or design anything is our goal,” he said. “We want to be able to get the widest net possible and be available for any type of project that you have that you want to work on.”

He and some volunteers are still clearing out the group’s new facility in Lemon Creek. When they moved in over the summer, it was filled wall to wall with ceramic molds from the previous occupants.

It’s mostly cleared now, with room for some tables and the latest addition — a donated 3D printer. Inside a big glass and metal box, the moving print nozzle lays down melted plastic in a precise pattern. As the plastic cools, more layers are added to form small objects based on a digital model.

The printer requires precise calibration. Bornstein is still getting familiar with all the different controls and adjustments.

“It sat in someone’s garage until yesterday. And they brought it over here and gave it to us and said ‘Good luck,’” he said.

Once it’s adjusted, the print head moves back and forth, laying down layers of plastic. The outline of the base emerges in a couple of minutes, but Bornstein estimates it will take 7 to 12 hours for the printer to build up the finished vase, layer by layer.

Bornstein plans to eventually teach others in Juneau to use the printer for their own projects. Juneau Makerspace is planning a Kickstarter campaign to pay for more tools and equipment, and Bornstein hopes that people with many different skills will gather to share their knowledge and experience.

“I’m hoping we can build a community of makers here,” he said. “We’ve got artists and teachers and designers all coming together and I’m hoping that we can all learn from each other.”

Soon, they’ll announce membership plans for those interested in gaining access to the space and its resources. Updates and more information are available on Facebook.

David Purdy

Creative Services Director, KTOO

David is currently part of the 360TV team working on major digital and content projects. Formerly he worked in the newsroom as Digital Director overseeing digital platforms.

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