Conceived in 2017, the Revelstoke Idea Factory fabrication lab will be fully formed next year on the second floor of the Business and Visitor Information Centre.
The contract for the project was awarded at the end of September and Hayley Johnson, technology strategy coordinator for the city, said they hope to be in the space for spring 2021. It’s part of an expansion to the building that allows for more office space on the second floor and more bathrooms for visitors on the first floor.
In the meantime the machines are already purchased and running in various locations around the city.
Phase 1 includes two 3-D printers, one for resin and the other for plastic. There is a 3-D scanner, a laser cutter and soldering stations to work on electronics. The lab will also have laptops with design programs as well as robotics kits for youth workshops.
When the lab is open, anyone with a membership will be able to come in and try out the technology with help from the experts on staff who will be available to help with both design and using the equipment.
The Idea Factory is a society with the goal of increasing access and understanding of technology while giving businesses and entrepreneurs in the community an opportunity to build prototypes and experiment with ideas locally.
The society also offers professional services. Engineers are available to design and create prototypes in the Hire-A-Maker program, with the proceeds going back to the society for future equipment purchases and programs.
At the moment the society is offering workshops for both kids and adults.
“[We have] All sorts of things for adults and kids so they can understand what is possible and take that away and then come back with their own ideas, having seen what they can do,” said Steve Baker, one of the society’s “makers”.
So far the makers have created face shields for front-line workers as well as capacity indicator lights to indicate to patrons when a building is full and when they can enter.
The Revelstoke Chocolate Company is also working with tools to 3-D print molds for chocolate as well as laser cut packaging.
“He is really taking advantage of everything we’ve got already and it is making a big difference to the sort of small but high value things that he is making,” said Baker.
At the moment Baker has worked with at least six clients creating a variety of things. Another local example is Downie Timber. Baker said they have been running low on a specific filter that works with a specific respirator due to increased demands for the equipment due to COVID-19. Instead of buying new respirators they have asked Baker to create an adapter so they can use the equipment they have with a filter that is still available to purchase.
Baker said the society has a long list of machines they would like to purchase, some of which are large and noisy and would require an additional location, however, the next machines purchased will be guided by the requests from members and clients.
For more information or to get in touch with the society go to revelstokeideafactory.ca.