Sep 14, 2022 - Business

Phoenix Forge offers collaborative workshop for various projects

A man points to a table full of electronic equipment while leading a tour group
Phoenix Forge program manager Benjamin Bednarz leads a tour of the makerspace. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

The public got an opportunity to tour a downtown Phoenix "makerspace," which hopes to attract new members.

Driving the news: Phoenix Forge, which is run by GateWay Community College, held a grand opening Tuesday, hosting several hundred students and others.

  • The facility opened in February 2021 but was unable to hold a grand opening at the time due to the pandemic.

Why it matters: Makerspaces give people access to equipment that they don't have so that they can use them for work, hobbies, side hustles and other projects.

  • Phoenix Forge also plans to offer incubator programs that will teach people the business knowledge they can use for their creations.

Details: Phoenix Forge boasts a wood shop, metal shop, 3D printer, laser cutter and equipment for textiles, electronics and jewelry making, and it plans to have a glass-blowing station open by the end of next year.

  • Executive director Bruce Balfour tells Axios that Phoenix Forge is the largest makerspace in the Southwest.
  • It's a 17,000-square-foot facility that will expand to 23,000 square feet when its east bay, where the glass-blowing equipment will be, opens by the end of 2023.

By the numbers: Students from all 10 schools in the Maricopa County Community College District can become members for free. ASU pays for about 250 memberships for students.

  • Members of the public can join for $75 per month, with reduced rates available for seniors and veterans, and Phoenix Forge offers small-business memberships that can be used by up to four people for $150 monthly.
  • There are nearly 700 members, and about 100 are members of the public who pay for memberships, Balfour says.

What they're saying: "I'm really excited to have a space where I don't have to buy all the tools myself and I can explore different hobbies and craft making," Phoenix Community College student Laurel Thornhill tells Axios.

  • Thornhill says she plans to use Phoenix Forge for her at-home sewing job.
  • She is studying American Sign Language and is also thinking of using the 3D printer to make hands in the shapes of signs.
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