July 19, 2015
Contrary to the perception of a decline in American manufacturing, individuals and businesses remain driven by the capacity to create tangible goods that address clear needs and showcase the possibilities enabled by state of the art technology.
In Philadelphia, NextFab stands at the forefront of innovation in digital design and fabrication technologies. Members have access to studio space and training opportunities that can support a budding hobby or, through NextFab's incubator, power the growth of a new business.
The organization has a flagship location at 2025 Washington Avenue, but a second site at Impact Hub on North 4th Street in South Kensington has plenty to offer in its own right. This summer, every Wednesday evening, the space is running an open studio series to invite the community at large to explore the future of innovative tech.
"This series is for everyone from local artists to innovators who need studio access to refine their ideas," said Melissa Guglielmo, a member of NextFab's technical staff in Kensington. "There is no typical NextFab member. We have people later in life trying to start up a hobby and people straight of college looking to get something started."
The space includes a laser cutter, a 3D printer, a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mill, and a jewelry studio unique to the 4000 square foot location in Kensington. As a membership-based maker space, visitors will be given the chance to see the 3D printer and laser cutter in action, tour space, enjoy beverages and learn more about how to get involved with NextFab.
"I came from a background of more traditional woodworking tools," said Matt Malesky, another member of NextFab's technical staff. "I saw the direction of manufacturing and knew that a place like NextFab would be a perfect way to bridge a knowledge gap in the software and hardware essential in every field."
Those who choose to get involved will be able to take technique and process-driven classes or receive private training depending on what suits their interests.
"The great thing is to work with our integrated technology and produce a final product," said Guglielmo. "It's very gratifying for people who haven't built things before to be able to explain step-by-step how they created it."
Ultimately, Guglielmo explained, NextFab is an approachable place that welcomes all types.
"If you're a beginner, you can get your feet wet. If you're advanced, you can take advantage of our high-end machinery to put your expertise to good use in a great community."