Make space for Makerspace

What would you do if you could create anything?

If you could wake up with a concept in your mind and hold a prototype in your hands before lunch. A place where you could unleash your creative side and go all-out. If there were no steps between thinking of something and making it reality. Well, I suppose then we would all live in a much more creative world. We could reconnect with our inner children – those silly, creative and wonderful beings that actually explored beyond the edge of a smartphone and were fascinated by every little thing.

Sadly, such a place does not exist. There are places, however, that are pretty damn close. Workshops have sprung up in most major cities: we know them as hackerspaces, fab-labs and co. Chances are, in fact, that the next one is closer than you think. Now, the path from conception to creation here is far from smooth; there are barriers to every creative process. But for many people, the greatest barrier is simply pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.

Here in Munich we have several of these workshops, such as the Maker Lab or smaller Erfindergarten. The most famous and possibly also largest one is the Makerspace in Garching, which I will be writing about today. The Makerspace is stuffed to the gills with state-of-the-art machines and tools to meet your every creative need. It’s been up and running since July 2015 and has fostered many innovators, most notably team WARR that won Elon Musk’s Hyperloop challenge in February 2017. As an additional bonus, tours are free and they have a delicious café right next door.

The front area of the huge 1500m² workshop is comprised of machines such as laser cutters, 3D printers, electric circuit mills and precision welders for electronics. This is where you would go to build anything from a walking coffee machine to modifying your microwave show you today’s weather. Hell, you could even 3D-print yourself, if you get the scan right.

The real heavy industry stuff starts when you pass the doors into the back workshop: a water precision cutter with 4000 bars of pressure, separate welding, sanding and painting rooms, and even a private workshop for woodwork. The only thing it seems they don’t have, is a warehouse for raw materials. Everyone has to bring those themselves. The back end is also where the TUM racing team have a prototype on display – it’s so light you can lift it with one hand.

But for all that techy stuff, it’s good to see they also have a small kitchen and common area for people chat and get to know each other. Perhaps more important than the tools used to make stuff are the actual makers themselves. The people here are on fire for their visions and passionate about what they do. Giving them a place to network, exchange ideas and meet experts in their field is what boosts creativity and productivity.

So, how can you get access? Membership is available for a monthly fee, but there are many deals to choose from. The cheapest offer currently costs less than a cup of coffee a day, and grants you access to the front workshop. But what should you do once you’re there, and where should you start? No-one expects you to know how to operate all these machines, which is why the Makerspace offers all necessary courses at an additional price.

Perhaps one day you’ll find yourself here working on the tech of tomorrow, or maybe just unleashing your inner child. It’s certainly a nice day-trip if you’re looking for inspiration. Just before the end of my tour I managed to sneak in a few close-up shots of some prototypes they have lying around. Feel free to help yourself to those in the gallery! In that sense, may we meet and make again!

Free tours are given daily at 9, 12 ,15, 18 and 21 o’clock, and last about an hour. Makerspace Website