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Innovation & Job News

Arlington maker space to open in March

Construction is underway for TechShop Arlington, the eighth TechShop location to open in the United States. According to Daniel Woods, COO and VP of business development for TechShop, the space, at 2100-B Crystal Dr., should be open for business on March 29. Both TechShop Arlington and one of its predecessors, TechShop Pittsburgh, are the result of a partnership with DARPA and the Veteran's Administration.
TechShop Arlington is a DIY and maker space. Woods says his company follows a "gym membership model; it it is membership-based with open access to a world-class workshop. We're open to anyone who makes or who aspires to make." Other labs—particularly those on college campuses—can be closed off unless users are in a specific program. Woods says that open access is key because, "innovation happens from serendipitous meetings among people with disparate backgrounds."
In addition to the new Arlington location, TechShop currently operates maker spaces in Menlo Park, Ca., San Francisco, San Jose, Detroit, Round Rock, Tx, Pittsburgh and Phoenix. The staff for each location is hired locally; Arlington's location will have a staff of 16 and will be managed by Addam Hall. A team of contractors will be hired to teach the "hundreds of classes on welding, sewing and learning 3D printers" we offer each month," says Woods. "We use contractors to teach because it allows us to scale much more rapidly to meet demand."
Classes are a fixture at TechShop locations. Members must demonstrate proficiency on any given machine in the shop before they are allowed to use it. Proficiency is demonstrated by passing a class, which members pay for…in addition to their monthly membership fee. Classes cost between $50 and $100. A "safety and basic usage class," the first stop for a new TechShop member, runs roughly $65-70.
TechShop wants its makers to be educated and to leave the equipment they have access to in good working order for the next user—hence the classes. In addition to welding and soldering equipment, sewing and quilting machines, and a host of other machines, TechShop Arlington members will be able to use a Mach 3 Waterjet, a machine that cuts anything--metal, wood, marble. "It's a big machine," says Woods. "You can put a four-foot by eight-foot sheet on it. It uses fine agate, water, air and needlepoint mist and cuts through six inches of anything. And you can design whatever pattern you want. It cuts like a hot knife through butter." Members will be required to reserve a time to use the equipment, including the waterjet.
In addition to classes, Woods says that TechShop is open for corporate events and birthday parties. The Arlington location will have three large conference rooms and a full catering kitchen. Storage is available for rental on site, and community groups should be able to use the shop occasionally for meetups for free.
TechShop is running a membership special: three months for $349. The Arlington shop will hold an open house Saturday, March 22, at 6 p.m., where potential members can get a peek at the shop, meet the staff and take advantage of additional membership specials.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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