The “Makerplex” is essentially an open source combination of makerspace, market, factory, public resource, educational facility, and research/development lab.
With the first three starting sets of equipment, the 3D printing lab, metal works, and electronics lab (featuring a pcb board printer), we can construct upgrades and new facilities.
“Makerplex level 1″
It acts as an “anti-walmart” where we construct the equipment/facilities needed for new local co-op businesses, where the workers earn shares of the business on top of their own wages, receiving a portion of the businesses wages every quarter. So for an example if you wanted to start an organic farm, we would construct the tractors, tilling equipment, and other material needs in exchange for making it a co-op where we would receive a portion of the shares. Also this organic farm would be able to sell their produce directly through the makerplex’s market.
We would form all of these co-ops into a vertically integrated corporate structure, where we would mutually benefit each other. For example the organic farm would share its produce with a co-op restaurant, where the same produce increases in value ($5 of produce becoming $15 worth of dinner). The restaurant saves money on its needed ingredients and instead splits the profits, ensuring the financial health of the whole system.
“Makerplex Level 2”
At this stage we would greatly expand our manufacturing/crafting capabilities. Using the things we learn from artists, makers, and engineers to upgrade the makerplex. Building specialty labs and studios that allow everyone to build things from things the community needs (like converting a bus into a mobile laundromat for disaster stricken areas) or just have a nice glass blowing studio. The makerplex would evolve and adapt to fit the area and its needs.
The market would be selling fresh aquaponic produce, art and products made by the local co-ops, as well as have space for existing small businesses, helping the communities local economy.
“Makerplex Level 3”
We continuously develop more open source products, from an electric vehicle “base” that can be designed modularly so with an easy to use editor you can design a vehicle to fit your specific needs.
All of this is to design and build the “Microfactory”, essentially it is an automated makerplex made minature. We take the knowledge we gain from manufacturing various things to make an all purpose fabrication device. This is where things get interesting because as we build more makerplexes and microfactories we create a decentralized manufacturing network, feasting on the waste of corporations to create what we actually need.
Once we reach this level we can make kits (or diy with our open source plans) to build your own makerplex. Whether it is to raise money for causes, directly build the things your communities need (ex an affordable local internet mesh network because fuck Spectrum/Comcast/ATT/Etc), or provide much needed material relief to disaster stricken areas, you can do it!
The best part is that as each makerplex’s community designs new products all makerplexes will be able to manufacture them as well, ensuring all of us grow and provide more for our respective communities.
How does a Makerplex benefit you?
With the infographic (found above) it explains how a makerplex grows and develops, but how does it actually benefit people? I’m going to be working on making a video on the subject, but for now I want to talk a bit on that subject today starting with the benefits for a regular person, just out to buy the things you want/need and live in a town with a makerplex.
Groceries: Between the aquaponics garden on the roof, the tanks of live fish, and the local farming co-ops you would be guaranteed to have fresh locally grown/raised food. Due to our zero waste policy “ugly” produce would be used to make box lunches (re-usable containers you return and are washed then packed with new meals) prepared in the makerplex kitchen. Food would be regularly given away (some through customer lotteries for giving customers an extra reward for shopping with us) and the rest to those in need. All food would also be in re-usable packages that interlock, providing a neat/orderly way to organize your refrigerator.
Power tools/equipment: Most of us are broke, and it’s difficult justifying the cost of buying a power drill or some other piece of equipment that you would only use once or twice a month (if that). If you live close enough to a makerplex you get free basic access to our equipment library, so you no longer have to borrow/buy something you will only use sparingly, and instead of a cheap piece of equipment you will be able to use high quality versions built to last and get the job done.
Art/furniture/paraphernalia: Because of our studios and co-op structure we would be working with dozens of artisans unique to each makerplex, who would sell directly through the makerplex market, and since we take on a majority of the expenses these artisans need to make their crafts (in the form of manufacturing their equipment and cheap studio space) they would be able to sell at a fair but more approachable price. You would be able to support your local artists directly, and enjoy more high quality hand crafted items. (we would also have an online store for these artists to sell internationally)
BUILT TITAN TOUGH!!!: Our design philosophy is that everything we make should be modular, easy to repair, and built to last as long as mechanically possible. We don’t want to sell you a phone every year, we want to sell you one phone, and let you pick out upgrades as you want and need them. If we make an electric car then that car should not only last but should also have each component easy to remove/replace with a basic set of tools. This benefits you and us as even if you don’t want to repair it yourself it would lower our costs and make repairing it in our garage quick/simple. Also since the majority of our products are open source you would be able to access the design documentation to learn anything you need to about your item.
Public services: Due to our nature of developing co-ops as the community needs them we would offer a variety of services ranging from an Internet Service Provider Co-op offering an alternative to the monopolistic corporations currently carving up the US to car repair, recycling and more as we grow and develop new open source solutions. Since we are a non profit we will never gouge prices, but instead focus on providing excellent service and doing our best to benefit each community we become a part of.
Hands on education: Through our public makerspace we would offer a variety of classes, ranging from artisanal skills like glassblowing to how to build Open Source Ecology’s tractors. Work together with your classmates to build projects, and if you wish build your own stuff through the makerspace as you learn. Learned how to make a guitar in one of our class series? You can pop back and make yourself one using the same equipment you learned on and get the materials to make it wholesale from our makershop stall.