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Training & Education

Made for makers

By Nick Wright

In Cincinnati, engineers and hobbyists bring ideas to fruition at The Manufactory

May 2014 - Doing the best you can with what you've got can lead to the best business moves.

FFJ-0512-webex-manufactory-image1For Lee Corp. Printers, a Cincinnati-based printing company, a steady decline in business prompted its owners to realign its resources. With 35,000 sq. ft. of space and a well-equipped maintenance shop for printing machines including welders, brakes and mills, the company decided in 2012 to leverage what it had to create a maker space. Two years later, The Manufactory was born.

“We split the building down the middle, leaving half for the printing company and half for the new business,” says Lee Krieg, The Manufactory’s president. [See the shop’s floorplan here.]

Clients pay $120 for a monthly membership to use The Manufactory’s equipment, which draws tinkering hobbyists and prototyping entrepreneurs that don’t have the money or space to invest in machinery. Others are artists, gearheads and general makers. After a safety training session, members have full access to CNC tools like mills and a plasma cutter, plus sheet metal tools including a power shear, brake, notchers and groovers. (There are plenty of woodworking tools, too.) The Manufactory’s small on-site store sells fasteners, bits, sandpaper and other essentials, as well as raw material like cold rolled steel sold by the pound. It also sells plastic for its 3-D printer.

“We will soon have a small forge and foundry setup,” Krieg adds. The Manufactory currently has 35 members, and “adds a few each week.”

The shop had its grand opening in March. Already there are groups getting their hands dirty. One small company, backed by online crowdfunding website Kickstarter, is building a solar cooking device—a project spanning multiple disciplines.

The stand for the cooking device is cut from thin plywood on the CNC router. They also need a CNC plasma table using a rotary tubing attachment to cut a thin-wall aluminum tube lengthwise and crosswise. “Essentially the shape is nested on a piece of tubing,” Krieg explains. After that, a reflector will need to be cut down. Lastly, they’ll add a product logo cut on a vinyl cutter. Those will be shipped to China for the startup’s midsize model being made there.

“Another interesting part is that these are not prototypes but an actual production run of several hundred,” says Krieg.

FFJ-0512-webex-manufactory-image2

No skills? No problem

Aside from providing the means and space to make manifest the vision of engineers, The Manufactory is a venue for people to learn by doing. It hosts classes for basic and advanced techniques, as well as offers a computer lab stocked with library of software complementing the equipment. People working for larger companies, who think their employers could benefit from using The Manufactory, have shown increasing interest, Krieg says. 

“So far these have not turned into memberships but our belief is that it will happen once the benefits are made clear to upper management,” he says.

The idea of a maker space isn’t new, but most of the shared workshops popping up nowadays focus on emerging technology like 3-D printing, for example. Many libraries around the country have shared community workspaces, such as those in Chicago, Cleveland and at North Carolina State University. The Manufactory is one of the few examples of an existing business reconfiguring its equipment (and adding new machines) to accommodate such a facility. Meanwhile, as do-it-yourself types flex engineering muscle in the name of developing a new product or new skill, the printing business next door carries on. FFJ

 

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

WATERJET

DEBURRING/FINISHING

LVD Strippit

PUNCHING

Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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