NASHOBA PUBLISHING/AMELIA PAK-HARVEY
About 25 painters, woodworkers, printers and other artisans came out to an interest meeting last Thursday for the possibility of a local "makerspace." Economic Development Director David Maher (far right) led the meeting along with resident Faisal Mohammed.
By Amelia Pak-Harvey
AYER -- As a person who dabbles in robotics outside of his job, resident Faisal Mohammed just doesn't have enough space to play with his robots.
He said he had been looking into nearby "makerspaces" -- spaces where artists of all kinds come together to create, learn from each other and maybe even build a business -- but noticed Lowell Makes in Lowell and MakeIt Labs in Nashua were too far away.
That's when he had the idea of bringing a Makerspace to Ayer -- an idea that seemed to gain support at a forum of interested artisans Thursday night.
A small crowd of about 25 welders, painters, woodworkers and other creators sat in the Great Hall to learn about the possibility of a makerspace in Ayer.
Drawing heavily on inspiration from Artisan's Asylum in Boston, Mohammed outlined the possibilities of such a space.
Most of these places, he said, occur when a combination of people come together and decide what equipment they need, whether it is a 3-D printer or a plasma cutter.
"The idea there is that if everyone chips in a little bit, it doesn't cost so much," he said.
Individual makers can lease equipment to the space, he said, and people who use the devices would have to learn how to properly operate it. There could also be different levels of membership that offer access at different times.
Equipment might come through capital expenditure or member donations, he said.
The different artisans in the crowd expressed similar desires to come together in a shared space.
Craig Farnsworth, of Ayer, said he became a self-taught welder after his wife bought him one for Christmas. When his two daughters go to sleep, he goes down into his basement to work.
It would be nice to move to a place outside his house, he said.
"I get asked all the time, 'Can I come to your shop?' " he said. "I don't have a shop, it's in my basement. I can show you stuff on my back porch."
Mike Audette, also from Ayer, said he was more of a hobbyist with a 3-D printer and CNC router, a machine that cuts different materials.
"I get into the hobbies to learn something new outside of my regular day job and to keep expanding my horizons," he said.
He said it would be nice to have access to other tools.
Scott Winroth, who runs a 3-D printing company out of his Ayer home, said he just needs a small area where he can put his printer and maybe a few desks.
"A lot of times most of my clients I get online through MakeXYZ.com or 3D Hubs, but occasionally I have people that actually want to come in and meet with me and see my printer, and it's in my basement," he said. "That doesn't look very professional."
Faisal said he and Economic Development Director David Maher have looked at one potential space already.
"One of the big things was seeing how much of the community was actually interested in us having it and how much we can really push forward," Mohammed said.
Seeing how many people showed up, he said, they can now go back and look at potential spaces.
Maher told the group that they are the initial innovators of the project and will hopefully be a big part of it.
"There's other people doing it and there's no reason why, with the capacity of people here, it can't be done somewhere else as well," he said.
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