Soner Ozenc has long been interested in putting more people in touch with 3D printing. The innovative product designer and engineer, who masterminded the RazorLabs online design studios about a decade ago, realised quickly, however, that this means overcoming a pretty central problem with the technology: tangibility.
As he puts it:
At the moment, people keep seeing these new technologies but there isn’t much going on, on the street, or a place where they can actually touch the samples.
Ozenc’s answer to this is MakersCafe, a new outlet that opened its doors in Shoreditch, East London this week. Describing itself as ‘half makerspace, half cafe’, it will be a place where 3D print enthusiasts can grab a hot beverage, work on designs, print objects and chat with like-minded people in a suitably hipster-ish location.
The staff have not just been hired for their barista skills, but also their 3D printing expertise and they will be happy to help customers with their concepts, as well as with the operation of the hardware. You can work on the store’s Solidworks, Rhino and SketchUp programmes, or bring your own pre-designed pieces to be printed or laser cut on-site. You’re not charged via subscription or by the volume of material you use, but, rather, by the minute, with prices beginning at £1 per 60 seconds.
Though it is the first to hit the UK, Ozenc’s new store is not the first 3D printing cafe in the world. Similar ventures having already been launched in Tokyo, Tapei and Barcelona. Could the increased visibility offered by these cafes be the thing that makes 3D printing a more mainstream concern? Certainly Ozenc thinks caffeinated drinks and additive manufacturing is the perfect combination, remarking:
3D printing is all about creative digital manufacturing, while coffee is all about coming together and discussing and creating ideas.