As the squishy cow spun slowly on his rotating base, members of the Carroll County business community peered as it was bombarded with ever-changing patterns and a machine nearby spat out a near identical plastic duplicate Wednesday during the ribbon-cutting event for the new Ting Makerspace in Westminster.
The Makerspace features 3-D scanning and printing technology, as well as an electronic router that can carve digital designs into physical objects and laser engraving. Starting in the fall, the public will be able to take advantage of these pieces of technology for a subscription price, either $5 per day, $30 per month or $300 per year.
In February 2015, Ting and the City of Westminster partnered to create a high-speed fiber optic network throughout the city. The Makerspace came about as part of the arrangement Val Giovagnoni, city manager for Ting in Westminster said.
This is Ting's first foray into creating a physical location for the community to work on projects, though eventually each city featuring Ting internet will host a Makerspace of its own.
According to Westminster City Council President Robert Wack, the retail space, hosted in Westminster's Winchester Exchange, 15 E. Main St., will provide a place for artists and engineers to come together and create the technology of the future.
For the subscription price, users can take advantage of the 3-D scanner, which takes any object smaller than a sofa and records the shapes and contours using light patterns, digitizing it. This digital rendition can then be printed on the available LulzBot Mini 3-D printer, which can scale down the scanned object or print original computer designs. The 3-D printer ejects layers of heated, rapidly cooling plastic to create plastic models of these designs.
There is also a 3-D pen on site, to allow for freehand creation and touching up the finished printed models.
The space also features a CNC Router, a machine that takes in a digital model and cuts it out from a sheet of wood, plastic, nylon or polycarbonate. The router itself was located on a desk that was originally constructed using parts cut by a CNC Router. Between the additive creative process of the printers and the subtractive process of the router, Giovagnoni said these tools can be used to make any number of products, including molds for silicone products.
The Makerspace also features an Arduino starter kit, which allows users to create a variety of electronic components that can sense the world around them. Next to the kit are a collection of soldering tools for those working on electronics of their own.
The final piece of the Makerspace, the laser engraver, was still in transit, according to Giovagnoni. She said once the collection is complete, the Makerspace will embody all of the positive potential promised in the creation of the internet.
Though the space won't be open to the public until fall, Ting invited members of the Carroll County community — including McDaniel professor Bryn Upton, director of the schools' entrepreneurship program, The Encompass Distinction; Carroll County Public Library employees; and Ted McNett, assistant supervisor of career and technology education for Carroll County Public Schools — to check out the work that has been done.
According to Wack, the Makerspace will be able to partner with the libraries and schools to host educational programming to groom the next generation of creators. Wack, who said he has been helping the organization set up, said it's great to see this plan finally come to fruition. He said he hopes it becomes a place where innovators can come get experience and make their ideas come to life.
"We hope it will attract people to the area," Wack said. "We're going to build a tech community here in Westminster. We want it to be a place that people hear about and want to be a part of what's being built here."
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