How to Effectively Run a Makerspace
Strong problem-solving, imagination, creativity, and cross-functional collaboration… How often do we hear these notions when getting hired, changing careers, or proceeding with education and training activities? What do we do to boost talent development? Is makerspace a creative thinking -oriented tool only to engage students, or can it really facilitate team efforts? Let's see it in more detail.
Admit it, learning by creating existed long before makerspaces occurred. But nowadays, having an endless number of tech tools around and a World Wide Web full of makerspace resources, we face new opportunities for learning-by-making available for everyone. By now, you are wondering what it feels like to run a maker space effectively, and you're in a never-ending battle. Even if you are not enough tech-savvy leader, don't give up. You'll be amazed by all the things you can try and learn, in addition to opening new horizons with the help of your visitors. Makerspace is all about emerging technologies, rapid innovative ideas, and persistence while getting hands-on learning and taking up design challenges. Especially when a variety of tools and materials on the market enable you to try out, invent, and create.
The main objective of a makerspace is to enter with ideas, work on it, and contribute together. Whether you are a school student, entrepreneur, or someone eager to learn new technologies, makerspace offers an exceptional place to experiment. Engaged with people of like-minded communities it serves as a place to nurture learning, innovation, creativity and community.
What Is a Makerspace?
They say if you can imagine it, you can definitely make it.
“A makerspace is a specific place in the facility where individuals get together to communicate ideas, design, invent, explore, and discover new things by thinking out of the box and leveraging a variety of materials.”
OK, we almost clearly identified its meaning. Still, it is quite challenging to describe it from the physical perspective, as makerspaces usually take on a wide variety of different shapes and forms. It is easy to find some in public libraries, coworking spaces, or even NGO offices, while others may be found at universities and schools.
Makerspaces don't get confined to boundaries. They offer a diverse range of projects like 3D printing, Robotics, Textiles, electronics, woodworking, ethnic arts etc… It is crucial that they fit in with the community of makers and allow them to engage in creative activities and empower innovation. There are different types of makerspaces used based on the requirement of the respective makerspace community.
For example, a library book stack can be used as a lending library of tools, a portable cart can be recycled as carts for tools and equipments that can be used in a classroom, Dedicated workshops to construct innovative ideas, Mobile vans that serves as a tool hub which travels across the city and Community spaces that can be used to focus on gatherings to develop new skills.
The tools offered by makerspaces ranges from hand tools like hammers and screwdrivers to equipment like laser cutters, CNC machines, Vinyl cutters, 3D printers etc. Makerspaces have a lot to offer from within either small or big, where people could conduct training sessions or makers could use these spaces to work on their own repeatedly contributing for the development of a creatively rich future community.
Must-Haves to Run a Makerspace
It is clear without saying that each makerspace is one of a kind, and the possible activities vary from place to place. Monotonous is the opposite of creativity, so some spaces are devoted to coding, laser cutting, and 3D printing, while the others can be electronics-oriented, covering Arduino and robot building.
Whatever the case, we highlight 5 top aspects of an effective makerspace:
- Vision and Ideas
- Storage Solution
- Geniuses Love Whiteboards
- Tools and Devices
- Technology Support
Let’s try and understand each in greater detail-
1.Vision and Ideas
Now you understand that the concept and designation of a makerspace is to cultivate creative thinking and promote collaboration, although you should still identify your goals and work comfortably. Do you want it to be a school makerspace for students to assist with their education and development? Maybe, you would like to land space with open admission to anyone who seeks to get engaged? That's a good question. You should give up any limitations and boundaries first. Think of the possibility of making a space for interested people of different backgrounds to get together and create on a regular basis . Before taking care of all the technical bottlenecks, you should formulate your idea first.
Yes, it is everything about creativity and uniqueness, but you should never neglect purity. Find a way to store all bits and pieces that come along with originality. In case there is a designated room for your makerspace, you can proactively integrate complex storage solutions to arrange the materials. Otherwise, it is high time to look for carts that can store materials and be wheeled when needed.
3. Geniuses Love Whiteboards
An efficient makerspace should grant opportunities to design, discover, and collaborate, so people may need room to jot down their brilliant ideas. Thus, whiteboards are the ultimate solution for mapping, planning, and brainstorming the design process in general.
4.Tools and Devices
From insulating tapes to 3D printer, soldering irons, and filaments – everything goes to a makerspace! Low-tech spaces need basic makerspace materials, such as scissors, rulers, and knives, while high-end makerspace should provide vinyl cutting and laser engraving opportunities like CNC machines . Anyway, it is always a great idea to sit down and identify what supplies you must invest in.
5.Bless the Technology
Luckily, there is a myriad of coding robot producers, as well as special kit manufacturers, that facilitate creating, learning, and sharing. If you bring robotics and tablets, it is vital to add basic tools like a charging station. Besides, remember that a 3D printer requires filament and their own storage room! For those makerspaces integrating digital technology or focusing on web development services, suitable software/hardware, HD screens, and iPads are inevitable. Additionally, it is reasonable to learn about makerspace management tools to get a deeper grasp of the best scheduling approaches for your makerspace.
Legal or Equitable? That Is the Question
Running a successful makerspace may seem too daunting and exhausting when deciding on a legal form. Of course, you are interested in making profits, and no one judges here. Although, you should keep in mind the liability that may come from taxation or a third party's claim. So, it is much safer to set up the country-specific equivalent of an LLC while starting a makerspace (limited liability company) rather than going completely unincorporated. However, there is yet to be an optimal solution. It is reasonable to reach the Tax Consultant and get relevant legal advice from a lawyer. In addition, makerspaces don't deal with large numbers of in and outgoing transactions. So, basic book-keeping software and a motivated employee will be a great asset to your accounting efforts.
In addition, let's admit that digital waivers provided by specific software aim to minimize business risks and liabilities. Cloud liability waivers could be electronic signatures for clients to acknowledge and accept your business policies. Your team can manage significantly less paperwork with electronic waivers stored in your cloud-based online booking system. Therefore, you can concentrate on the essential elements of your business.
Expenses and Income: Create a Business Model
Before you jump into the numbers, first decide how big your makerspace will be. Are you going to share a garage with your friends? Will you run a small community of inventors with several shared making tools? Will you develop and expand a sustainable business or hardware incubator or a fab lab? In case your space isn't all that you want it to be right now, it is more important to know where you'd like it to end up. Your vision will greatly impact the decision-making, so take your time in the planning phase and think about it. First of all, you should understand how much money and space it actually takes to run your makerspace. So let's get to work!
1. Rent: As for now, the most considerable expense expected is rent. You are to focus on the rental fee, which appears to be a cornerstone of your entire business plan. If you haven't chosen the location yet, do your best to estimate the low cost you might pay.
2. Building Maintenance: Unless there is no too-forgiving landlord at your side, you should understand that tenants are in charge of paying property tax, insurance, and building maintenance. Forewarned is forearmed, so it will help you count your expenses.
3. Utilities: OK. We know what you are thinking about. That's too much. Heating, cooling, and powering are expensive. Try to generate an appropriate monthly estimate for your makerspace that will still generate income, keeping the relevant rates of your area in mind.
4. Possible Income: It's high time to switch gears and discuss potential profit. Having an idea of all expenses will help you make the right money-making decisions. Will you teach multiple classes? Or arrange workshops to teach new skills? What about grants and donations? Offer month and year memberships? Run multiple events for fundraising ? Each of these activities has pros and cons, so consider your income resources carefully.
5. Scheduling Spaces and Slots: Let's address a crucial challenge now- Scheduling! As makerspaces are communal areas it’s important to schedule and manage the flow of people. The right scheduling software can be a better solution for streamlining the makerspace management. It helps you in keeping track of equipment maintenance schedules, training sessions, bookings, waitlists, and payments. This reduces administrative frustration and ensures users can engage and effectively make use of their space and time in a makerspace.
Expertise is key, but we don't all have to be experts. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. We all face ups and downs. In order to run a makerspace effectively, support learning and training in any possible way. Communicate and ask people about desired uses of your makerspace to meet and balance their needs. So, are you in the game? Share your experiences of running a makerspace to help others break the stereotypes.
In conclusion, to foster innovation and creative approach, makerspaces are the greatest resource. By offering a tangible environment of like-minded maker communities to work comfortably makerspace shapes the innovative minds making the future -The most capable!
Expertise is the key to run a successful makerspace community. But don't be afraid to make mistakes. To show the difference between your community and other makerspace support new learning styles and encourage training in every possible way. Communicate to new members and shape up your makerspace meeting up with their desired uses and balance their needs.
Give your makerspace business the time to set foot in and adopt the diverse range of right tools and resources out there that can help maximize your efficiency.
If you run a Makerspace or want it to be successful, learn more about how Omnify can help you, check it out for yourself with a FREE PLAN, and start optimizing your business today!
Makerspaces are the places that nurture learning, creativity, innovation. But running a makerspace is a bit tricky. Here's how to run a makerspace effectively.