Touring the Hack Factory Makerspace

History of Twin Cities Maker / Hack Factory

In what looks like a plain brick building from the outside, has a treasure-trove of equipment, people, and ideas inside. The Hack Factory, located in south-east Minneapolis, is the location of a group called the Twin Cities Maker, a non-profit.

Our mission is to make, share, and learn.

In 2009, a group of enthusiasts met at local coffee shops to discuss their projects. In 2010, with increased interest, and merging with the Hack Factory, the group decided to invest in a workshop, called the Hack Factory. More information can be found at the Twin Cities Maker wiki.

Outside Hack Factory
Front Doors (Google Street View)

Tour

Entering the front door, there is a lobby which includes vending machines which don’t dispense candy or soda, but microcontrollers, glue, and tools. Cool! To the left there is a computer room which is currently getting equipped with CAD software. In the lobby, there is a ham radio station setup with 2 transceivers and an antenna on the roof.

Project vending machines
Project vending machines

Machine Shop

The machine shop is very large, consisting of many sections. The machines of the metal shop include; drill presses, miter saws, band saws, sanding wheels, 2 Bridgeports, and a metal lathe. Placed all over the place are projects and machines in a seemingly random order. A commercial laser cutter sits in its own air-conditioned room. The welding station has 3 Miller wire-feed welding machines. In the west section of the shop, there is a small foundry setup which includes anvils, furnaces and plenty of tools.

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Metal lathe
Bridgeports
Bridgeports
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Welding equipment
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Laser cutter

Woodworking

The back of the shop is dedicated to wood-working. There are two large diy CNC mills which look sturdy. In this area, there is every type of wood working tool I can imagine, like planers, plenty of table saws,  tools, cordless tools, sanders, dust collectors, wood drill presses, and a wood lathe.

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One of the CNC mills
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Woodshop overview
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Various sanders and drill presses
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Tool section in woodshop

Break Room

The break room was a flurry of discussion about computer type things. There is the obligatory fridge, coffee machine, and microwave. Tucked in the corner, there is a small electronics shop which includes a 2-channel analog oscilloscope and a soldering iron. Scattered around the desk were component cabinets.

Basement

The basement is a clean work area, no dust creating tools. A table houses 3 member owned 3d printers and their computers, one is a chocolate printer. There is a large assortment of crafting supplies including; a diamond cutter, craft tables, and a mechanical vinyl cutter. It is also cooler down here than in the machine shop, so it is a good place to hang out.

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Three 3d printers
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Vinyl cutter
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Craft supplies

Conclusion

There is a open-house every Wednesday from 7-9pm. The membership monthly fee is $55. The makerspace has good value for money because of the large assortment of equipment, and talented people who will help out. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools available for use, ranging from diamond tipped jewelry saws to large bridgeports to blacksmithing equipment. Although it is lacking in electrical test equipment, I could be missing the equipment locked in cabinets. In conclusion, I would recommend this makerspace to people interested in mechanical and computer projects.