The Bella Coola Makerspace hosted an Open House last week to showcase their facility and let people know what they’re all about.
A project of the Central Coast Communications Society, the Makerspace aims to provide the community access to high-tech, low-tolerance fabrication tools and can serve as a local microfactory for small production runs of a wide variety of goods.
Makerspaces exist across the world in various forms and are often housed in local schools, libraries, or privately by non-profit groups. While each space is unique the driving message is often the same: a DIY space where people can learn, share and play with technology that would often be inaccessible to individuals due to cost or other factors.
The Bella Coola Makerspace integrates several technologies into a fabrication platform that can create a vast variety of items, providing significant new capacities addressing different community needs including education, fabrication, construction and innovation.
“We are really interested in engaging the community, in particular the schools, with the technology that we host here,” explained Makerspace coordinator Devon Girard. “We’ve already hosted several school groups and are hoping to do more.”
The space holds a number of different technologies that are often integrated when put into use. There are three 3-D printers, a CNC (computer numerical control) machine that controls a wood router, a laser printer and a virtual reality (VR) headset and software (very popular with the kids). There is also a small tool library that the organization is hoping to expand upon.
Numerous Valley residents have already utilized to the CNC router to create unique signs for their homes and/or businesses, as the technology allows for virtually any image to be engraved into the wood with astonishing precision.
There are also unlimited opportunities for local creation: students have designed basic shapes for their own chess boards and automated watering machines that sense when the plant is dry.
While many of us might be intimidated by such perceived “high-tech” machinery, Makerspace organizers assure you it is well within your reach to learn and create.
“It’s becoming more and more popular for people to learn and create with technology on their own because it’s not as difficult as people think,” explained Makerspace coordinator James Hindley. “Often it just takes a few hours for people to understand the basics and begin operating the technology on their own.”
One of the most exciting things for the Valley to come out of the Makerspace is the ability for local residents to craft their own parts for things they may need.
As a very basic example a broken vacuum (or some similar machinery) may be considered garbage because one piece is broken or missing.
Makerspace technology can allow the user to craft and print the required part rather than throwing out the entire machine.
In an isolated region such as ours, the possibilities for self-sufficiency are endless.
The Makerspace prides itself on being inclusive and accessible: there is no fee for its services if you do the work yourself and everyone is welcome.
Located next to the Hagensborg Post Office, the facility is open every Wednesday and Friday from 1pm – 8pm and there are coordinators on hand to help you out.
To learn more you can visit their Facebook page or find them online at makerspace.belco.bc.ca