The first week of February isn’t typically the sunniest time of the winter, but this year it provided a bright light shining on Lacey MakerSpace for entrepreneurs, creators, innovators and businesses. That’s because a huge expansion is complete.
Director Michelle Pope says after a brief closure to finish construction, they have re-opened the Lacey MakerSpace in Zaverl hall, located on the Saint Martin’s University campus. “We are grateful for the collaboration and coordination,” she says of the community’s two-year effort to secure funding and complete the renovations. “We are grateful to the college for giving us the entire building and for our partners.”
$1.5 Million Combined Funding Significantly Expands Lacey MakerSpace Facilities and Equipment
Lacey MakerSpace is an innovator’s workshop for varied disciplines, providing space, tools and training to bring new products to market. Members use the space for 3D modeling, laser cutting, welding, sewing, taking classes and more.
The recent renovations and equipment purchases became reality thanks to City of Lacey and congressional funding. The expansion managed by FORMA Construction includes significant additions and upgrades such as:
- Expanding the physical space to just under 10,000 square feet
- A dedicated Digital Lab for 3D printing
- Enlarged Industrial Metals Room
- Textiles Lab/classroom/meeting space
- Office spaces
- Lots of new equipment
- Expanded power and air drops
Lacey MakerSpace Renovations Mean More Opportunities for Puget Sound Innovators
Pope says approximately 50 businesses around the South Puget Sound have used the Lacey MakerSpace facilities and services. “We are regionally known for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship,” she says.
Newly remodeled spaces include a Textiles Lab, Digital Lab, Metals Room and general shop space. “One thing I am most excited about is the Textiles Lab,” Pope says. “The space will be a flexible classroom, with a place for meetings as well as workshops.” She adds that this space now has an industrial sewing machine, standard sewing machines, an embroidery machine and a direct-to-garment printer.
The Digital Lab will house state-of-the-art 3D printers. Two new lasers cutters will be available soon, plus computer stations providing the design software programs required for the various equipment.
The expanded Industrial Metals room is set to feature six welding stations, a horizontal band saw, and tiered levels of welding classes with instructors such as Dan Schepers at Elite Welding & Design. There will be a slight delay in reopening this space due to back-ordered equipment, but when it’s all in place, “It will be like a professional welding studio,” says Pope. An exciting new partnership with AJAC Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships promises the launch of a pre-apprenticeship program in advanced manufacturing this summer.
Woodworking in the general shop space offers access to table saws, a band saw, a 4-by-8 CNC Router, lathes and assorted finishing equipment. Lacey MakerSpace has provided a place for businesses such as Somatic VR and Windfall Architectural Products to do prototype testing.
Success Stories Demonstrate How Lacey MakerSpace Encourages Creators and Entrepreneurs
Pope says they have terrific success stories about people who have used Lacey MakerSpace.
“We had one member who just joined in July. He was a warehouse worker who learned laser cutting and fell in love with it,” says Pope. “He purchased his own laser cutter and reached out to the EDC about starting his own business to laser cut mandalas. He is working to establish himself as a local artist, and this is where he started his passion and skills. It was at MakerSpace.”
One member began with laser cutting, and is now diversifying into other creative areas. In yet another example, Pope says Rake Force, a forestry business, used Lacey MakerSpace to make T-shirts for its staff.
“We are starting to hear more and more stories like that,” she says. “It’s a real source of pride.”
With the Support from Many Community Partners, Lacey MakerSpace Sees a Sunny Future
Lacey MakerSpace offers memberships at $50/month, with discounts for students, military, and tribal members, underscoring the founders’ commitment to affordability. The organization is dedicated to ongoing fundraising and fostering strategic regional partnerships, ensuring a sunny future.
The facility opened in 2019 through a partnership among the City of Lacey, Saint Martin’s University, and the Thurston Economic Development Council. Other examples of the many supporters include the Nisqually Indian Tribe, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, City of Tumwater, and Port of Olympia.
Today, the expansion translates to even greater community participation and access. Six free monthly memberships will now be available for “check out” through a partnership with the Timberland Regional Library in Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater. Lacey MakerSpace is working on a Vet Corps position for former military members. Future plans include expanding hours as well as bringing on more staff, volunteers, teachers/mentors and interns.
Saint Martin’s University Campus
Zaverl Hall, Building 5, Baran Drive SE, Lacey