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OT STL Post-Dispatch reports "Techshop" has closed up

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  • #16
    That's too bad. I remember reading about Techshop when it started. I don't think they started any of them on the East Coast. When I first wanted to seriously get started doing machine shop activities I took a night machining class at a local school. I then took a night welding class at the same school which they only offered like once every 6 months or so because everyone re-took the class just to use the machines after they passed the initial offering - So once you were able to take the class and pass, you were aloud to re-take the class but spend all your class time doing whatever you wanted to with the machine tools/welding/cutting/etc equipment. It was really great then when I realized I was hooked I bought a bridgeport and a clausing lathe, then bought my welders and stopped signing up for the class because I now had everything at home. I wonder how many people started with Techshop only to purchase their own equipment and stop going.

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    • #17
      In the paper

      http://www.stltoday.com/business/loc...b963554de.html
      CNC machines only go through the motions

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      • #18
        Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
        If you can't have your own shop/hobby shop and you're not developing a prototype, $4 a day is a little hard to swallow. Add to that the costs of classes you must take for each piece of equipment. Maybe Macona will chime in on this.
        That seems pretty reasonable to me. Most people I know spend about twice that for their (combined) cell phone and cable tv subscriptions.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Max McGrumpy View Post
          There were a couple of problems:

          1) They were allowing companies to coopt large blocks of time for production use. Basically companies would buy blocks of time to run production... The one I am aware of there were six companies vying for time on the machinery. Each company would use up consumables and expect Tech Shop to take care of it.

          2) Piss-poor training -- anyone could become an "instructor" after showing a very basic competence on a machine. What we were hearing about were people taking basic cert courses then denying access to everyone else under the guise of "not qualified/failed training" thus freeing up time for themselves

          3) Enormous liability insurance -- there was literally no way around this, you are letting the ignorgrunts of society run power tools. Even if they could have overcome 1 and 2 they would have eventually had an accident and the cost of insurance would have killed the company. As it was it was basically sucking them dry from a cashflow standpoint.
          I remember someone on this forum talking about opening up these places, maybe a couple years ago. My memory is foggy because of all the stuff I read here.

          It sounded like a good plan but when you stop and see how it was being run you would think disaster right off the start and a mega buck investment in leased buildings and machines.
          Leasing out shop space for small companies sounds good but to supply them with material and stock...... not too well thought out. I also don't see how that could work with the average guy walking in off the street to play around.
          Throw the liability and insurance factor into the mix and disaster is written all over it. Anyone know the owners ebay user name????? Start looking for some good deals.

          JL................

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          • #20
            Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
            ...... Anyone know the owners ebay user name????? Start looking for some good deals.

            JL................
            It will be the court appointed "receiver", charged with getting the most possible value from the assets. That recovered value will be divvied up among the creditors. The question about buying equipment etc is answered in the PDF posted on the website, with more info.
            CNC machines only go through the motions

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            • #21
              Originally posted by tomato coupe View Post
              That seems pretty reasonable to me. Most people I know spend about twice that for their (combined) cell phone and cable tv subscriptions.
              Approx $120 is just the monthly price of admission. Doesn't cover classes, material, etc. Maybe it is a good deal to have a well lit, heated well, equipped shop if you're retired, live close by, etc. or you are running a business out the door. Is the average working joe likely to get much use of it at right after work? How about weekends, I bet there was a queue to use every machine, as everyone had the same idea.

              Just my humble opinion. After a long day at work plus the commute, I found it was difficult to attend my night school shop class, much less make it on time.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
                Approx $120 is just the monthly price of admission. Doesn't cover classes, material, etc. Maybe it is a good deal to have a well lit, heated well, equipped shop if you're retired, live close by, etc. or you are running a business out the door. Is the average working joe likely to get much use of it at right after work? How about weekends, I bet there was a queue to use every machine, as everyone had the same idea.
                It's not clear from your post if that was your actual experience or if you're just speculating. From a business perspective: if it was impossible to get time on the machines, then maybe they should have raised their prices and taken advantage of the supply-demand curve.

                Just my humble opinion. After a long day at work plus the commute, I found it was difficult to attend my night school shop class, much less make it on time.
                It seems like a good concept but, unfortunately, it didn't work out for you. Maybe something else will come along that works better for you.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by tomato coupe View Post
                  It's not clear from your post if that was your actual experience or if you're just speculating. From a business perspective: if it was impossible to get time on the machines, then maybe they should have raised their prices and taken advantage of the supply-demand curve.
                  I agree. $120/mo is stupidly cheap. I think I used to gladly pay $400+ for a 30 hour open machine shop class back in 2004 -- meaning you just used whatever machines you wanted to use for the ~1.5 hour class time 3 days a week IIRC. After signing up for the class several times I bought my own machine tools and stopped going.

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                  • #24
                    I was a member at the Detroit [Allen Park] location for over 4 years, the first-year membership was provided by the Veteran’s Program, and included 3 classes, generous veteran’s discounts were given for continuing your membership, and included some classes.
                    Machines could be reserved in blocks of 4 hours, up to a week in advance. Hours were 9:00 A.M. to Midnight 7 days a week. They were even open 24 hours for a brief time.
                    There were numerous computers, each loaded with Autodesk Inventor, and Fusion, as well as other programs.
                    There were lasers, 3D printers, injection molding, electronic workstations, metal working, wood working machines, industrial sewing, a brand-new Edwards 55-ton Ironworker, the list goes on and on.
                    There was even a vehicle lift where you could change oil and work on your vehicle, the staff would even raise and lower your vehicle.
                    Sand blasting and powder coating was available, with spray booth and oven large enough for motorcycle frames.
                    A FLOW waterjet with either a 5’X 10’ or 6’X12’ table, can’t remember, but it was big.
                    Located in Michigan, I’m going to miss working in a warm, well equipped shop, when it’s freezing outside. This was a nice place to work, plus I lived nearby.
                    Larry

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                    • #25
                      I used the one here in SF. Great resource (especially if you lived in an apt!). Sure, it had its flaws, but it was a great resource for learning and getting stuff done. Even had a good bar next door. I eventually got into a house and bought my own machines, but it will be missed.
                      -Justin

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by 3 Phase Lightbulb View Post
                        I agree. $120/mo is stupidly cheap. I think I used to gladly pay $400+ for a 30 hour open machine shop class back in 2004 -- meaning you just used whatever machines you wanted to use for the ~1.5 hour class time 3 days a week IIRC. After signing up for the class several times I bought my own machine tools and stopped going.
                        It is cheap looking at it one way, given the expenses involved in operating the place, and folks who simply have no way to have their own shop. It is expensive looking at it another way, even assuming the person is going there because they cannot afford to outfit their own shop. Another instance of the high tax rate on being poor.

                        If you look at it, in a year, a person would spend as much on the membership ($1440) as I did on both lathe and mill added up ( I am even including the parts to repair the used equipment), plus a bit for tooling. Of course that depends on your size of work, if you need a 16" lathe and a Bridgeport, you are still coming out much cheaper after a year to pay the membership. It also depends on your location and choice of new or used, it barely buys a halfway credible lathe shipped to you if bought new.

                        If you factor in the scheduling of your time to use machines, and the nearly absolute fact that you will not finish in the scheduled time, and must break down your setup and wait until another open slot comes along, then it looks a little less cost effective compared to spending on your own shop, if that is a possibility for you. Your time setting up and breaking down cuts into the actual work time. Some setups really cannot be broken down and re-set-up again effectively.

                        Still, if you cannot have your own shop, for any of a host of reasons, it is a better alternative than not having any access to a shop. The membership might be cheap in that case.
                        Last edited by J Tiers; 11-21-2017, 11:26 AM.
                        CNC machines only go through the motions

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                        • #27
                          Really too bad they couldn't make it. I loved the idea of techshop.

                          I live a bit far from any major cities where a place like that could actually survive, but if I had access to large water jet, plasma or laser cutting machines I'd probably be a member of a place like that. I've got a lot of things I'd like to build that having a CNC plasma, or access to one would be very beneficial. They really are so fast and efficient at what they do that I really don't have the interest in going back to the old way (my old way) of jigsaws and angle grinders for sheet and plate work. There's a local guy here that's done some work in the past for me, but his prices vary wildly depending on if the rent is due or not... it's tough to budget or price stuff out. I need to find another source I guess. The rest of the machines offered in a space like that I pretty much already have, or have access too. Although having access to a large paint booth would be nice the odd time I actually want to paint something (I hate painting)

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                          • #28
                            Having a used South Bend lathe for 500$ in your garage would take you further

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by yarrrrr View Post
                              I used the one here in SF. Great resource (especially if you lived in an apt!). Sure, it had its flaws, but it was a great resource for learning and getting stuff done. Even had a good bar next door. I eventually got into a house and bought my own machines, but it will be missed. -Justin
                              Does "got into" a house mean bought a house in SF? If so, how long have you been a multi-millionaire?

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                                If you look at it, in a year, a person would spend as much on the membership ($1440) as I did on both lathe and mill added up ( I am even including the parts to repair the used equipment), plus a bit for tooling.
                                Is this an apples to apples comparison, i.e. are your lathe and mill comparable to what these places provided?

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