By Jennifer Ferrero, APR
Their name may sound like a bit of sweetened ice perched on a paper cup, but what they do is anything but a simple snack.
This organization, officially named Snohomish County Makers Group was born out of a collective group of people who were looking for a place to work on engineering, artistic endeavors, manufacturing and skills development. They started with a Meet Up group of about 30 in 2015, and now have a 1200 square foot wood and metal shop.
Their prices are very reasonable with two membership levels:
- $10/mth for visits during open times
- $40/mth for anytime visits, day or night
Some of their equipment consists of:
- Bench top laser, for cutting acrylics (plastic) and woods, etching metals
- CNC Mill – a computer controlled router, subtractive manufacturing, removes little bits of plastic, wood, metal. People design something in the CAD program and then mill it.
- 3D printers – additive manufacturing, like a high-tech computer controlled glue gun. They take very small layers of plastic until the 3D design is made. This is great for 1st or 2nd run prototypes.
- Woodworking tools, metal tools and a small lathe
Members are made up of a variety of groups:
- Students who are developing hands-on woodworking or metal skills and are learning to use the equipment and design tools.
- Early career people who want to build in base skills; usually working on self-improvement, skills development outside of work.
- Those that are mid-career, usually engineers or technicians who enjoy time outside of work to create new things.
- Retirees who love the social aspects and continuing to make products. They also enjoy mentoring.
One of the founders of SnoCo Makers, a 501c3 organization is Chas Ihler. He is an Industrial Controls Programmer at Johnson Controls and spends his days visiting hospitals to save them money on energy costs. When he moved to the Seattle area, he was looking for a group of like-minded people who wanted to work on creating and building things outside of work. When he couldn’t find a group like that, he ended up co-founding the group.
“Wood working and metal shops used to be something of yesterday – now today’s engineering students in college want the hands-on experience of a makerspace. Many retirees are there because they have scaled back their lives and don’t have the room for this type of equipment. Some people enjoy showing up for the social aspect themselves,” said Chas Ihler.
Often, inventors are sent to SnoCo from NW Innovation Resource Center to prototype a product.
They teach workshops and safety courses as well. SnoCo Makers has been such a success, they may be expanding in the short-term.
For more information: Chas Ihler, President, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website, https://snocomakers.wildapricot.org/
To learn more about what to do if you have a product idea or invention, read about NW Innovation Resource Center.