Discover your next engineering skill at a local maker space

In the distant past, if you needed to purchase furniture or a blanket, you or someone you knew would make it. Now it’s much simpler to buy anything you want online. It’s easier, yes, but many have found one-click shopping less rewarding. Enter the maker movement, which has encouraged many people to get back to the workshop while inspiring the next generation of inventors.

Many factors have converged to form the modern maker movement. In my mind, two of the most important advancements are rapid prototyping and a rising sense of community. Thanks to mainstream media exposure, people without a previous interest in product development or engineering have been wowed by the amazing advancements in 3D printing. Seeing everything from 3D printed drones to life-saving medical devices has inspired a new group of people to take up engineering as a hobby.

Fab Labs at SOLIDWORKS World 2015
Fab Labs at SOLIDWORKS World 2015

Further, with more people getting involved in the movement, there’s been a need to develop maker spaces: areas where individuals or aspiring startups can work on their projects and problem solve while learning about the product development process. For example, a maker project shares many of the same challenges faced by any product design and development project – albeit on a smaller scale. Maker spaces enable people with great ideas to experience everything from problem solving and evaluating solutions to building and testing all aspects their designs.

Fab Labs at SOLIDWORKS World 2015
Fab Labs at SOLIDWORKS World 2015

Maker spaces, such as Fab Labs, are just as integral to the rise of the maker movement as the technology itself. These organizations are the life blood of the maker movement. Maker spaces provide much needed mentorship and a sense of community to those involved. It is almost as though these spaces are becoming the next-generation shop class or sewing class, training the next generation of artisans. Not only do maker facilities provide users access to great engineering minds, they also feature leading design tools. If you enter any of the more than 350 official Fab Labs worldwide, you can work on your projects with SOLIDWORKS Premium. This means you can design and validate with integrated mechanical, simulation, electrical, kinematics, cost, sustainability and technical documentation tools – just to name a few.

Technology and culture are responsible for the maker renaissance. I encourage you to investigate a maker space in your area. Chances are, a community exists where you live that will be more than happy to help you explore your passion for creating and designing. Participating in a maker space is a great opportunity to learn a new skill in a social atmosphere. The best part is that you’ll get to build something with your hands. There’s no substitute for the sense of satisfaction associated with holding a finished project.

At SOLIDWORKS, we’re constantly inspired by our users to provide the best 3D products on the market for all aspects of integrated product design for any scale of project. Therefore, it’s our commitment to provide you with the best tools to take full advantage of the amazing benefits emerging from the maker movement.

Gian Paolo Bassi

Gian Paolo Bassi

Gian Paolo is CEO of Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS.