During the holidays, there is something magical about finding a gift that perfectly fits a friend or family member. Crafters have always found ways to add their personal touch by making homemade gifts, but the new MidPointe Library makerspace, Innovation Pointe, offers this option to even more people.
The goal of a makerspace is to give you the ability to create physical objects that you’ve designed on a computer or by hand using a variety of fabrication machines and supplies. The machines available at Innovation Pointe render your designs in different physical forms.
A laser engraver takes wooden blanks and creates precision laser burns to cut out a shape or etch words and pictures. A Cricut machine makes cuts into iron-on transfers, vinyl, stickers or even leather, based on your designs in a computer program. A 3D printer melts a thread of specialized plastic and deposits it in precise layers to create figurines and projects of all kinds.
“You can look online for designs or design items yourself,” says Cari Hillman, community engagement director for the MidPointe Library system. “We circulate board games here at the library, so if there is a missing piece, we can actually 3D-print a new piece.”
While private citizens can certainly purchase these kinds of machines, having them as a community resource brings down the costs considerably, and MidPointe Library keeps everything affordable for makerspace visitors.
“Visitors only pay for consumables; there is no cost to use the machines,” says Cari. “Because we are a nonprofit, we will be charging at our own cost for the materials as well.”
The gifts you make can be completely one-of-a-kind without being expensive, which means the look on your loved one’s face when they see what you made will be priceless too.
“These projects are so much more than just another item,” says Cari. “These gifts will be personalized and really mean something."
Getting started on a holiday project in a room full of unfamiliar robots and printers may feel daunting, so Innovation Pointe has planned ways to get you started.
“The makerspace will have programming related to it, including how to use all the machines. All of our computer programming classes will run through Innovation Pointe,” says Cari. “We hope to have some more creativity-focused programs and events as well as the instructional ones.”
Other machines to get to know in the space will include a button maker, which turns your personalized designs into durable shiny buttons, and a soldering iron, appropriate for small-scale metalwork.
“We’ll also have film-to-digital conversion for VHS; you can even make DVDs into digital files,” says Cari. “We also have a sublimation machine, which is used to put photographs on mugs or ornaments or other items.”
One goal of Innovation Pointe is to be a place for entrepreneurs to get started on their next big idea, perfecting a project using the affordable materials and community-shared machines.
“We like the idea of being a business incubator,” says Cari. “If someone wants to create wooden engravings and sell them online, they can do that here. No need to buy a laser engraver of your own at first; we want to help those small businesses get off the ground. We already help people with résumés and in job searches; here is a way that we can help you start your own small business.”
The makerspace concept is just another step in what has been a major shift in libraries; they have turned into hubs for all kinds of connection and knowledge-sharing.
“Folks think of libraries much more as a community space, rather than just a book depository,” says Cari. “So in the past, we’ve offered coding classes, and we see creativity within those students that we want to foster. The ‘maker’ culture is a perfect fit for us.”
MidPointe Library. 9363 Centre Pointe Dr., West Chester. 513.777.3131 MidPointeLibrary.org
Build a Button
Give your loved one a selection of personalized buttons to outfit their collar, backpack or pencil case at school.
Construct an Ornament
Beautifully cut pieces slide together to form a 3D wooden ornament, or you can construct a customized gingerbread house of laser-engraved wood for under your tree.
Design a Toy
3D printer designs of all kinds are available online, including some that create clever movement abilities: this reindeer’s legs can jiggle and help him stand up in different ways.
Personalize a Pillow
With Innovation Pointe’s sewing machines and Cricut Maker, design a decal that makes your hand-sewn pillow even more special.