At TechShops, Do-It-Yourselfers Get to Use Expensive Tools

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Some nice ink for the TechShop crew in the NY Times

MARK HATCH sees the revolution going something like this: Wealthy, love-handled Americans will turn off their televisions, put down their golf clubs and step away from their Starbucks coffees. Then they will direct their disposable income and free time toward making things — stuff like chairs, toys and, say, synthetic diamonds. They will do this because the tools needed to make really cool things have become cheaper and because humans feel good when they make really cool things.

Should this revolution take place as planned by Mr. Hatch, much of it will happen at TechShop, a chain of do-it-yourself workshops. Mr. Hatch is chief executive of the company, which has three locations and plans to set up about 10 more over the next 20 months.

“Making things is core to who we are as Americans,” Mr. Hatch says. “We are inventors. We are creators. Once you give people access to the tools, there will be a resurgence of creativity and innovation.”

TechShop represents an inevitable, corporatized version of the “hacker spaces” that have risen in popularity over the past couple of years to cater to people who like to hack things open and see how they work.

The typical hacker space consists of a few dozen people who share the costs of renting a work area and buying tools. There are spaces that lean toward robotics, some that specialize in software and others that generally encourage the melding of metal, electronics and plastic in artful forms.


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