• Updated : 2020.4.7 화 09:49
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Makerspaces: Hubs for Maker Culture and Innovative Sharing
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승인 2019.11.15  16:47:56
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    People called makers who are making products by themselves have contributed to the beginning of the ‘Maker Movement,’ which is a cultural trend or mindset whereby makers share ideas and experiences while making their own products. Dale Dougherty said that “Today’s makers enjoy a level of interconnectedness that has helped to build a movement out of what in the past would have been simply a series of microcommunities defined by a particular hobby or activity.” Recent technological developments naturally draw the convent of various types of makerspaces where makers gather and share their experiences and innovations. In Korea, the number of makerspaces has been increasing because of the government’s effort to foster maker culture and startups. According to Makeall, a website for makers, nearly 120 makerspaces are running nationwide. The Chonnam Tribune visited different types of makerspaces located in Gwangju and took a look into their facilities and programs for local residents.

   
▲ A maker (left) making his own product with a member of staff at Fab Lab Gwangju

Playground for Makers
    Fab Lab Gwangju is a makerspace where local residents and entrepreneurs who make a reservation in advance can make their own things, by using equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters and other diverse kinds of materials. The Fab Lab is operated by Open Lab Inc., and its goal is to inspire makers to turn their ideas into new products by giving them access to a range of advanced digital manufacturing technology. It usually provides a variety of educational programs; long-term technological education including a 3D modeling and coding class and one-day classes such as making rattan crafts and making water balls. This year, regular classes open every week, and one-day classes open irregularly for amateur makers.
    The lab supports makers even when classes are not held, and if requested, it creates plans to offer educational courses especially for them. A maker, Hwang In-hyuk said, “The lab helps me realize my idea by giving proper advice and offering 3D modeling education at a relatively low price. I share opinions with other makers at the lab about a better way to complete my product. It would be impossible if I did not use this makerspace.” He has visited the lab regularly to invent a product with its staff members, which reduces the possibility of infection in the process of using a blood-sugar checking machine.
    At the Fab Lab, more advanced forms of products are created through collective intelligence among makers who have their own strengths in different fields. Nam Ki-uk, CEO of Open Lab, told us about the desire that they would like to share their experience and ideas with makers. “When I had no theoretical knowledge for the manufacturing process, I met a maker who had a technological problem. I shared a manufacturing method with him, and he explained the theory to me. As I experienced, I hope that this makerspace would be a place to run creative projects which combine different fields through the synergy of sharing ideas.”

   
▲ Artistic goods on sale in the select shop of The 8th Wave

Atelier for Artists and Makers
    The 8th Wave of the Flymarco Cooperative Union is a makerspace mostly for artistic purposes. It has many kinds of digital equipment for artistic and practical items such as cup presses, printers, and vacuum molding machines so visitors can borrow them to make their own works. There are also network halls and classrooms for artists and visitors to share ideas together, and a workplace for artists. The artworks of artists are also exhibited at the place, and some artistic goods such as stickers, postcards and badges are on sale in a select shop downstairs from the makerspace.
The makerspace’s one-day art class is one of the most popular programs for people. It invites artists to act as an instructor, and people who are interested in the arts apply for the classes such as pottery, stained glass, and drawing. Lee Ha-yeon, who took an oil pastel class, talked about her experience. “After completing some artworks, we had time to introduce each of the completed paintings and share the process of creating it. I was worried before the class because I registered for the class alone, but this class would remain a valuable experience, not just a manufacturing process for makers.” Since all the schedules of one-day art class and exhibitions are informed via SNS accounts, visitors could check and decide which activities to enjoy.
    The 8th Wave is an attractive place in that it organizes diverse exhibitions and experience activities in a limited space. It is an atelier for artists and also a meeting place for the artists and the audience. At the makerspace for arts, artists display and sell their artworks. Visitors, even though they are not artists or makers, could have cultural and art opportunities by making their own meaningful items in art classes, appreciating art exhibitions and shopping artworks. Yu Hyeon-ji, manager of The 8th Wave, said, “Visitors usually enjoy the exhibited artworks and buy the goods of the artists, and the artists could inform the people about their names and artworks.”

   
▲ A student (left) discussing his product with a professional designer at Mandulmaru

Startup Incubator for Makers
    Mandulmaru at Chonnam National University (CNU) is the only specialized makerspace, which is offering expertized activities in Gwangju and Jeolla Province. It was built as an industrial base for makers that vary from beginners to experts, and they can attend diverse education classes divided into three for each level: a beginner course, an intermediate course, and an advanced course. After getting a license in a training program, they can rent equipment using points that can be obtained by taking an equipment class or working as a staff member at the makerspace.
It also acts as an incubator for makers who plan to manufacture products for their own business. Kim I-ho, a maker who runs a design studio said, “I used to visit this makerspace to use the facilities and equipment. When I need to learn how to handle dangerous and complicated equipment, I take training programs here.” He experimented on an acrylic lamp using laser cutters and Arduino-based circuits with Kim Hyeon-woo, a student at CNU, in order to develop a kit that would be used in maker training classes. It supports young makers to set up startup companies in various ways such as crowdfunding and running customized training programs as well as equipment rental service and practical advice. This is a distinctive characteristic differentiated from other makerspaces.
    The makers who received makerspace benefits are now assisting other makers. As one of them, CEO of MakeDot Inc., Sim Eun-ji (’06, Faculty of Business Administration) established a startup company thanks to educational programs that she had attended in her school days. “When I was a member of a school club for founding startups, I took some programs operated by the Mandeulmaru. It was very helpful for me to get information and set me up to go in this direction. We still manufacture our products using facilities here.” The company is now testing its products like DIY kits using the equipment in the makerspace, and also offers making programs with a moving makerspace named “Mandulcha (Make Car)” to contribute towards spreading maker culture across the country.

Hub for Innovation Sharing
    Different types of makerspace located in our region currently build the foundation for makers to let their ideas be realized while sharing and cooperating with each other, as mentioned above. Unfortunately, according to the staff of the makerspaces, the number of makerspaces in Gwangju is relatively small and have fewer programs compared to other big cities. Even though they are trying to spread maker culture and influence our society positively, it appears that they need to change the public’s perception of the makerspaces and make more people familiar with them.
    The makerspace is a collaborative work place where people explore their own ideas and interests. Besides, they can also play a role as a bridge between people as learning and sharing space. Even though their major characteristics and purposes are different from each other, they have one thing in common; they are innovative fabrication laboratories and venues of knowledge and experience sharing for current and future makers. At the makerspaces, makers develop their skills and gain experience, implementing each other’s ideas. Some makers trained by expert makers can found startup companies and conversely, they become trainers for other makers. This kind of virtuous circle results in positive influences on our society, creating the value of sharing innovation. It is the core of the maker culture. In a highly individualistic modern society, many people are used to doing things alone without the uncomfortable collaboration with others, but we have to live together by connecting with each other and sharing ideas in order to make the world a better place.
 

By Park Min-ji, Tribune Reporter

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