WLP02 CreateSpaceLondon and 3D Printing

In this second episode of the 21st Work Life podcast, I visit CreateSpaceLondon, a place for artists and makers in the West of the UK capital. So, today’s episode consists of a tour around the space with Rory Gallagher (founder) and I also I stopped via Atila’s studio to ask him to explain how he made his first guitar. Finally, I chat to Kevin about 3d printing and how it might impact consumers. He also talks us through the 3d printing process in a small consumer 3D printer and also describes the different machines currently available.

00:30 Introduction to CreateSpaceLondon and hackspaces.
11:20 Tour around the space and a chat with Rory, founder.
23:20 I talk to Atila about making guitars.
31:20 Chat with Kevin Koekkoek, 3d modeller and designer. We talk about 3d printing. www.3dKev.com

CreateSpaceLondon - a space for makers, artists and many more.

Below are the notes to the introduction to the episode.

For today’s episode, I thought I’d get out of the house and visit the space of a strong artist community. CreateSpaceLondon is, in the words of its founder Rory Gallagher “a cross between an artist studio and a hackspace”.

A hackspace, for those of you who haven’t come across the term before, is a place where people come together to make things, to collaborate, to share tools and knowledge, machinery... It’s very 21st century although they seem to have their origins in the 90s.

But as it’s now easier to learn how to do things yourself by accessing information all around the world through the internet, and as some manufacturing tools like 3d printers are getting cheaper and cheaper, these places are becoming more popular.

Communities of artists are not a new thing – but what I think is special about CreateSpace is that it brings together a whole range of artists and also, makers. The maker movement is pretty new. Makers are people who, well, like to make things. They usually have an interest in technology, they like creating their own software, hardware, their own products... I think probably Michael Dell was the first maker – I seem to remember him tearing apart and putting back together computers, if I remember correctly from his autobiography. I’m not at all an expert on the maker movement but through personal connections and just by attending events full of these great people, I’ve become fascinated by why it’s emerged.

Many things have come together to fuel this movement – the costs of some manufacturing have come down, which means that if you want to make something, if you want to create a new product, you don’t have to start thinking about how you’re going to fund the first prototype.

You can access one of these places, which usually operate on a membership basis, and use their machines or the machines of other makers, or better still, strike a collaboration with someone from a different discipline.

You can think about creating a prototype and, for example, having it 3d printed. And this is one of the things I cover in this podcast. A bit about3D printing – more from its use for the independent maker than at a wider scale, but I will at some point cover how it’s being used much more widely. Watch this space, this makers space.

There was, of course, also the recession in the first decade of this century, which always makes people more ingenious. So I’m sure this contributed to the popularity of this movement. Instead of splashing out, the more creative minds decided to make things for themselves and, if you’re that way inclined, once you start, it’s difficult to stop!

The advancement of electronics and computing has also played a great part. Amplify that with the internet, where people can actually talk to each other from different parts of the globe to help each other improve and innovate. Imagine, 40 years ago, if you were trying to code something in your bedroom, and you got stuck. What did you do? Maybe no-one could help you because your knowledge was so specialised that you didn’t know anyone else within a decent physical distance you could have a chat with, or you just couldn’t afford being on the phone to the other side of the world to have a long chat with someone you met just in once in a conference. But now the internet, and the wonderful people maintaining forums, groups in social networks etc have made this all possible.

Another phenomenon, which again, is not new but is really spreading, is that of shared working spaces. This again, seems a reaction to low budgets, which mean that you can’t now really afford a nice cosy office space for yourself and your friend when you’re setting up a business but for me, it’s also a reaction against the “I work just with my computer syndrome”, which is really easy to catch if you’re an entrepreneur or work in a small business which is not bricks and mortar based. So, you might be working on your own, for yourself, but you still crave that human connection.

So, back to today’s episode. I visited the CreateSpaceLondon, mainly to see Kevin Koekkoek who’s a model-maker turned 3D printing guy. And I have to disclose that Kevin is my boyfriend, so of course I find what he does fascinating, but on a less biased note, trained as a carpenter and has worked for ages as a model-maker, so his transition to 3d printing is interesting and makes sense.

So, I thought I’d ask him how a 3d printer worked and just talk to him about why 3d printing is so popular at the moment and how it might evolve in the future and to create a different kind of sound for this episode, I decided to go over to his studio. I went over to Stonebridge Park, near Wembley in London and once I was in the space, I thought I might as well involve other people there.

The space has a mixture of what we might think as traditional artists and then the more modern version of artists, like Kevin who designs and helps designers mainly using a computer and 3d printer; there’s also a guy there who makes robots, but there are also visual artists, sculptors, model-makers and even a guitar-maker, Atila, who happened to be there that day, so I decided to have a chat with him too.

For me, this is very now, finding spaces which are not all tech, which are not all art, but which have a mixture of people. And I think that’s come from recognising that creativity and innovation often come from fusing different disciplines, from putting different types of minds together. There’s also now the recognition that the environment in which we work is incredibly important.

And indeed, the Createspace is built like that – there’s plenty of communal areas for people to work in, to work with machines, but there is also a sitting area which is really welcoming. They could well have built another studio in that area, for example, and get a bit more income, but then where would people chat?

This is something that is being recognised again throughout the working world, that chatting, informal chatter is really, really important to evolve – and indeed the next episode of this podcast is dedicated to some research around informal communication amongst team members in a more office based environment – and the research shows it’s very, very important.

So, in order to help me to transport you to the Createspace, I asked Rory Gallagher, founder of the space, to give me the tour, so I hope you’ll get a little bit of sense of what it’s like. And if you’re curious, you can go to the Createspacelondon website and watch the video.

Before we start, just a word of warning that the sound can get a bit uneven in some of the interviews, the volume might change a bit between my excited tone and the much calmer tone of the guests – but for now, I’ll allow myself to make these little mistakes as I learn how to put these episodes together, in true maker style.