One local group that I am associated with is called KwartzLab. This is the local “maker group” in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Essentially it is a group of members who rent premises and keep tools and equipment there for use by all the members to, well, make stuff. Such organizations were originally known as “hacker spaces” but then the media managed to poison the term “hacker” with negative connotations.
I was careful to say I’m “associated” with the the group because I am not actually a member. I have more than enough working space and tools at home so the membership dues are not worth my while. However, every Tuesday night from 7-10pm is their open night, where everyone is welcome to come by, have a look around, and, assuming they are competent to use to tools, actually do some work. I regularly attend these open nights and generally find something to work on.
The group recently moved to a new location (at the corner of Kent Avenue and Charles Street for the locals) and although they still don’t have everything set up, the facilities are generally useable. Along with various woodworking, metalworking, and electronics equipment they have a laser cutter and several 3D printers including a Makerbot, at least one RepRap Mendel, and two Stratasys FDM 2000 units recently purchased from the University of Waterloo surplus sale.
I spent this evening with a couple of others poking at the Stratasys printers to figure out their ins and outs. We have some manuals for them, but they seem to be incomplete, and they refer to an older version of the software so there is a lot of guesswork involved.
We have been involved in some of their special events, such as a marbling workshop & trucking pumpkins around for their “Hacky Hallowe’en” event. Now we are considering whether we should do something, perhaps a papermaking demonstration, for the upcoming Mini Maker Faire they are hosting.