I have a bad Kickstarter habit. If it’s maker-related, I want it. I missed out on the microcontroller that runs Python out of the box, but I’ve got oodles of tiny wireless boards — bluetooth and wifi oh my. And a low-end CNC machine. And a rotational casting machine. And a thermoformer. I would have gotten a laser etcher except I’m bound and determined to build my own. Same with 3D printers: I have so many great ideas it would be a shame to back one that’s already built. But I’ve got structural parts and a hot end for my next extruder, and some whizzy new filament coming, and I’m not sure what all else.
All of this has cost me about as much as it would if I had a latte every day for the same length of time. (It’s a good thing I can’t tell the difference between the fancy stuff and regular old coffee-with-milk.) Which brings us back to a point about makerspaces that came up repeatedly at the e21 conference a few weeks ago: it’s not so much about the stuff as it is about the people.
In the context of what people’s time is worth, pretty much all the toys you could want are cheap. (OK, maybe not the full-size industrial versions, which all seem to run north of a hundred grand, but the kind you would want for learning the technology, playing with ideas and making your first few sets of prototypes.) It’s the time, energy and collaboration that are at a premium.