By Alex W
On April 21, a delegation from Kwartzlab made the trek to Toronto to check out fellow hackerspace Site 3 – and in particular their laser cutter!
The ground floor of Site 3 is dedicated mostly to a large, open workshop filled with big tools and large, well-lit workspaces.
The electronics workbench has a few Weller WES-51 soldering stations and a Madell bench power supply, all set up and ready to go. There’s also convenient access to parts bins right from the work space. The only thing missing is an ESD-safe table surface.
In the back corner sits a Makerbot 3D printer, hiding on a shelf and surrounded by little knick-knacks that have been printed out on it. But as Seth Hardy, one of the founders of Site 3 tells us: “A Makerbot isn’t a tool, it’s a project. You buy a Makerbot to spend time fixing a Makerbot, and contributing to the open source 3D printing world.” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the jist.
And here’s the reason we came. Gus gets a lesson on the operation of the Site 3 laser. This unit was purchased from China for about $4000, all in, including a bunch of extra parts to replace pieces that wear out. The total cost of ownership for one of these units comes in at less than half of one of Epilog’s entry-level “Zing” units, and Site 3 is quite happy with both the unit’s performance and the supplier’s customer support.
The laser in action.
Before using the laser, members and guests are required to take a training course on the proper use of the machine. At the end of the course, students cut out a sample image to demonstrate their knowledge – many of these samples are hung on the wall next to the laser.
By carefully adjusting the power settings, it’s even possible to etch a pattern into cloth or paper towel!
The upper level holds a clean workspace and lounge area for members. There’s also tons of storage space.
There was also a Portal 2 release party happening at the same time. All the computers and projectors were being dedicated to this awesome game! And… is that cake?
Yep, there’s cake. No lie. As Darcy has shown at the Ubuntu release parties hosted by Kwartzlab, you can’t have a release party without cake.
It wouldn’t be Site 3 if there wasn’t some kind of fire effects going on.