You want a sign that the future is here?
In the old days, you went to a storefront and made pottery or scrapbooks.
Now, at Santa Cruz's you build robots or 3D animation.
The Makers Factory in the old Sentinel building at 877 Cedar St. has slowly made a name for itself since arriving last year in October by giving people of all ages the chance to learn 3D printing, animation, modeling, and robotics.
Chris Yonge and Dave Britton are the founders of Makers Factory and they are quite familiar with 3D design on computers with a combined experience of more than 50 years. Yonge was a furniture maker who studied and now teaches 3D design. Britton worked at four startups and at companies such as Zilog, Memorex and IBM. He was part of a team at Britton-Lee, Inc., that created disc drives and database machines.
They recognize the popularity of the 3D printing and have stepped into Santa Cruz to perhaps give some of the local businesses that boost it’s been looking for.
“It’s starting to come out of big firms, design firms, and universities and so on.” said Yonge.
They have helped some local businesses such as with 3D printing and with special molds for the candy store that made new shapes for some new creamy delightful treats.
However, the new tech center isn’t all about creating business partners in the area. Yonge and Britton give people their assistance in the open lab and the opportunity to use the tools in the latest technology for modeling and printing in 3D.
Anyone who has a project and has used programs like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, and Google Sketch Shop can bring in their ideas and bring them to life with the huge extrusion printers and laser cutters that sit inside the lab.
An extrusion printer is basically an ink jet printer that spits out ink over layers of gypsum powder that are a tenth of a millimeter thick, about the same thickness of paper. A 3D object that’s a little over an inch can take up to two hours to print.
Yonge has several examples and models on display like a topographic map, an alien alarm clock, and an exact replica of Santa Cruz’s own Jack O’Neill.
The open lab can also provide a chance for folks to meet other Makers Factory instructors that come in and help future 3D artist of the world.
In fact Wireless Cables CEO Dr. Juergen Kienhoefer recently made an appearance on Friday to show off a new 3D program he created that can be used with Microsoft Kinect cameras.
“If you put your hand in front of these scanners, you saw a 3D model of your hand on the screen rotating. And it was not only rotating and animating but it could be saved out as a 3D object and you can print it.” said Yonge.
Although the program isn’t officially on the market right now, all signs point that soon one will be up and running for the public.
Makers Factory also caters to future prospects ages 9-13 with MakersCamp. The kids are taught the principles of robotics and mechanisms.
Yonge and Britton pass on their knowledge and experience with optimism that the group of youngsters will learn with serious intentions, yet have fun at the same time.
“In a couple of weeks time they’re going to be assembling their very own 3D printed and laser cut robot," said Yonge. "And it’s going to go walking down the hallway here, were going to have a race.”