TechShop (previously reviewed here) is a member-based workshop. They have one of every tool you could dream of — laser cutters, plasma torches, computer-control sewing machines, welders, 3D printing machines, you name it — plus piles of regular tools (drill presses, lathes, oscilloscopes, miter saws etc.), and once you are member and cleared for training, you can use them whenever you want. They have a big open tables, lots of room, and offer classes for various tool craft as well.
TechShop sells day passes, week passes, monthly passes, or yearly membership.
The big update is that they have expanded their locations from their original Silicon Valley station. They are currently in 5 US locations, with 3 more in progress, and are adding more each year.
The idea is brilliant. Why should you purchase, maintain, and upgrade expensive shop tools that you might need only once in a while? It’s a whole lot better to join a co-op that buys, houses, and upkeeps the gear. You pay rent to use it — a price that will be a lot less than the cost of purchase. The downside, of course, is that you need to travel to the TechShop, which can be inconvenient. I’ve found 3 types of folks using it: 1) Those who have tiny apartments and no tools, or tool space, of their own; this is their workshop. 2) Those who are working on a prototype, or a big art project, for a specific period of time; this is their lab and office. 3) Those who own a decent typical workshop but want occasional access to a laser cutter, or 3D printer; this is their luxury.
Here are some photos I took at the San Francisco location:
A cage of power tools.
Welding machines waiting to be used.
A work table with floating power cord, easily accessible from any side, but not in the way. The lockers are for members use.
A plywood bench made using tools on the premises.
Working at the laser cutter control station.