Meet Your Makerspace
By Noel Daniels
It’s time to start that project you’ve been putting off. It’s time to build.
Maybe in the past you haven’t had the means to construct electronic t-shirts or light-up Deathstars, but now Modesto has a resource. And that resource is the city’s new makerspace.
“A makerspace is a community-oriented place for people to come together to learn, build, collaborate, teach, and invent,” said Downtown Tinkertank founder and “Master Chief” Brianne Parmer.
Their aim is to foster the growth of industry and self-expression by giving people access to technology and creative support. Downtown Tinkertank creates an environment that’s safe to explore, collaborate in, and discover without judgment—and it’s meant for all skill levels, so that experienced builders and hobbyists alike can find a fun new craft. And it’s not all crafts—instead of throwing out or replacing broken appliances, try making your own repairs with the resources Downtown Tinkertank provides. You can manage anything from simple fixes and basic circuitry to using the 3D printers to craft tools or replacement parts.
On top of everything, their signage is all made in-house, meaning Downtown Tinkertank is great for designers, too.
“We have a fun project we are doing right now, building all of the desks for Justin W. Capp Engineering and Design with a custom design by the firm,” said Parmer. “We recently did a free project for Mod Shop where people were able to come in and make LED cards and gift tags.”
For those feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of what Downtown Tinkertank can do, bear in mind that there are three main offerings: First, they offer a space for families, artists, and entrepreneurs to work. The business is set up a bit like a gym membership, and members must pay a monthly fee to have access to the shop. Only instead of treadmills, they have 3D printers, shop tools, textiles, and a laser cutter.
Second, they offer classes. Some classes are “make and take,” where you go in to create a project and take it home with you—such as lightsabers or custom-etched glass. Third are skill-development classes where you create a foundation of skills in areas such as welding, 3D design, 3D printing, and screen printing. And best of all? You don’t have to be a member to take classes— although members do get a discount
“My favorite aspect [of Downtown Tinkertank] is empowering people,” said Parmer. “I find so much joy in people taking the skills that they learn working with us and applying them to projects they never thought they could do.”
They have classes for makers of all ages in the pipeline, from summer and after-school, kids classes that have a whole curriculum to individual classes that focus on one skill or project. Classes will mostly center on their eight zones: 3D printing, electronics, textiles, laser cutting and etching, CNC fabrication, vinyl and graphics, woodworking, and metalworking.
“Membership allows you to design, manufacture and invent using tools that may otherwise be inaccessible due to cost or size,” said Parmer, “while classes and workshops allow access to new skills and technologies.”
So it’s a bit like leveling up, just in real life. Make sure to squeeze in those crafting classes before the inevitable, bottlecap-currency apocalypse.
And last, but certainly not least, Downtown Tinkertank is a custom shop, so if you need an intricate acrylic sign for your business, a 25-foot robot, or a custom, collapsible motorized table, you can reach out to Downtown Tinkertank.
Either you can commission them to make your vision a reality, or they can teach you one-on-one how to build it. Downtown Tinkertank has a plethora of machines to utilize for any number of crafting needs. In terms of heavy-duty devices, they have the Shopbot PRSalpha CNC Router, the Epilog M2 32 Laser Cutter, and the Roland 54” Vinyl Printer and Cutter.
They also have a standing drill press, a hand router, a miter saw, chop saw, bench grinder, angle grinder, scroll saw and other assorted hand tools. Have large-scale printing jobs? Try giving their Makerbot z18 3D Printer a whirl. You can even make t-shirts with their Brother sewing machines, two-shirt, four-color screen printers, or a heat press for graphics.
“Part of the joy of Downtown Tinkertank is that the possibilities are near endless,” said Parmer.
For more information, visit their website at DowntownTinkertank.com or visit their physical location on the corner of J and 12, 1003 12th St.