San Francisco’s Robot Garden is A Robotics Themed Makerspace
July 28, 2014
Founded in 2013 by Daniel Casner and Andra Keay, Robot Garden is a family friendly makerspace in the Tri-Valley area of the East San Francisco Bay. Of course robotics are just the beginning of what Robot Garden offers, as a fully stocked makespace they have just about any machine that you need for whatever type of technology or art project that you’re working on.
Among the tools that currently call the workshop home are CNC machines, laser cutters, sewing equipment, soldering irons, oscilloscopes and of course severalAfina 3D printers. Robot Garden also has several robots available for member use, either to aid their projects, or to learn how to repair or program. The workshop is open to all members free of charge, but anyone can pay a small fee and be granted access to the equipment or attend any of the seminars and classes. You can purchase your membership monthly for $50, six-monthly for $150 or yearly for $500.
Robot Garden is a completely non-profit makerspace and entirely volunteer run. It’s very family friendly, and encourages makers to bring their children to learn with them, or even to work on their own projects. But the real attraction, Daniel Casner admits, are their Afina 3D printers.
“Having a 3D printer in our space has been one of the bigger draws. We get a lot of people who come in for robotics, but one of the things that gets people to become a member is having access to a 3D printer. It’s our bread and butter,” explained Casner during a recent interview with Afina. “Start-up companies are building prototypes on our 3D printers. POC Medical is creating a low-cost, portable cancer diagnostic tool for 3rd world countries, which could ultimately save lives. Members are using our 3D printer to work on projects, like creating a mechanical travel toothbrush holder and toothpaste dispenser. My wife and I are also using it to make resin casting molds.”
Afina’s tech support department didn’t just do this for the camera, Minnesotans always stand and wave whenever anyone walks into the room.
Casner reveals that he chose Afina 3D printers for Robot Garden’s workshop because he needed a machine that was easy to use for anyone of any skill level, and was inexpensive enough to allow the entire maker space access to it. And because the filament is so much cheaper than other companies, he doesn’t even bother charging people to use it. I’m sure the fact that Afina 3D printers are made and have tech support in Minnesota — statistically the nicest place on the planet — is only a bonus.
Robot Garden’s primary partner is Bay Area start-up incubator i-GATE, who provides their workshop and office space. In return i-GATE and their start-up community members have access to the maker space during off hours. This symbiotic relationship between the business community and a maker space is becoming more common, as makers and hackers find their skills suddenly highly desirable for many modern tech companies. A maker space – or a hackspace – similar to Robot Garden called NYC Resistor is where the original MakerBot famously took shape and kicked off its own piece of 3D printing history, so it makes sense that businesses would begin seeing them as ideal places to recruit the next generation of tech innovators.
Robot Garden offers all open source software and hardware and encourages members to develop technology that is beneficial to the entire world. If you live in the Tri-Valley area you can visit Robot Garden on weekends and see what is being built in the workshop or you can take a class and learn a new skill. You can also volunteer to teach classes or work around the makerspace and receive discounts on your membership.