Fort Collins Startup Week is a free, five-day event giving entrepreneurs new opportunities. This week was sponsored by companies like Sam’s Club and Otterbox and will be welcoming the community to events for networking and workshopping. Idea2Product Director, Dr. David Prawel, spoke on a panel February 28th at The Articulate about his experience in developing inventions, prototypes and businesses in a makerspace environment. Dr. Prawel was accompanied on the panel by Douglas Collins, owner of Avid Product Design, Omar-Pierre Soubra, Director of Marketing Communications for Trimble Integrated Technologies and Trimble Applanix Divisions, Ron Thomas, Executive Director of TinkerMill, and Ed VanDyne, Chief Technology Officer at Wave Solar Technologies. For over an hour, these inventors and entrepreneurs told the audience what it’s like to be a maker and how to work in a makerspace or even where to find a makerspace.
Colorado is becoming a great place to become founders of businesses and to find so many new resources. Moderator, Elise Van Dyne asked, “Why is making a movement?” Makerspaces allow people to get access to a broad variety of talent really quickly and typically the people who are there are there for the community. “Anyone can buy a handful of tools or go to the library and read a book but having a place to really work is super important. People are coming to legitimately make their ideas,” Thomas said. Tools like Sketchup help people design and bring ideas to life. “It was originally for architecture but people started hacking it to do what they want whether that was to make a shelf at home or something else,” Soubre explained. Sketchup connects with 3D printers and other makerspace products.
“Making is not about the making, it’s about the mission,” Dr. Prawel said. It can be very intimidating coming into a makerspace because there are so many tools but if you know what you want to do that’s when you have a plan. Even companies can use a makerspace. Young inventors are also users of the I2P lab. The youngest printer in the Idea2Product lab is 12-years-old. For his age he already has a lot of knowledge about printers and the process, our staff even says he is teaching them new tricks and techniques. He first started with learning sketchup and then two weeks later he walked out of the lab with a ukulele stand for his mother. “Things that are hard to do have become so easy,” Dr. Prawel said. “The most common 3D printers are like a hot glue gun, we’ve had those forever but now we can make them do what we want.” More and more artists are using 3D printing for items like jewelry. The 2nd largest population of makers in any of these spaces are artists because they are finding value in 3D printers.
A piece of advice all the panelists had to give was just to visit one of these makerspaces. If you want to use a new tool you’ve never used, come in and learn at a makerspace, meet people and see what they can teach you and then teach them in return.