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TechShop Announces Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; Closes All Locations 66

ewhac writes: To the shock and dismay of many, TechShop today announced the immediate closure of all of its U.S. locations and is entering Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Their homepage has been replaced with a PDF relating TechShop's history, and detailing the circumstances leading to shutting down the company. First launched ten years ago, TechShop was one of the first "shared maker spaces," a members-only machine and work shop where tinkerers, makers, inventors, and innovators were able to prototype their ideas, launch products, or even just fix their own stuff. Its closing will be a huge loss to the tech and maker communities.
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TechShop Announces Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; Closes All Locations

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  • To many classes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @06:03PM (#55558005)

    It was a great idea but they made you take a class to touch just about every tool so for makers like me with a decade or more of experience it was never really an option. It would have taken me months and hundreds of dollars just to get certified on all the tools I already use and own.

    • I'm not familiar with the operation, it sounds like a great concept. I wonder if they tried to much to have 'everything' and rather could have maybe narrowed down to the most used/popular equipment. Or maybe get into service contracts with businesses that had similar facility needs at times.

      I can see how it would be hard to keep going, either way.
      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

        I was an instructor for welding for a short time. This would be my analysis. Trying to be everything to everybody is just to big of a job. And at that point, where do you advertise? Who do you target?

        Even visiting later, I found myself confused by all the options available.

      • the most popular things, from what I could tell (I was a member for several years) were the laser cutters. they never had enough spares to keep everyone happy, and yet so much other equip went idle most of the time.

        I'd pay money to have access to JUST laser cutters, if they maintain them and they are industrial quality.

        the 'real' laser cutters are still beyond home/hobby ownership. most other things can be garage-shed like, but not the lc's.

        once I learned how to make decent diy boxes from lc plexiglass, l

    • Re:To many classes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @06:13PM (#55558067) Journal

      It was a great idea but they made you take a class to touch just about every tool so for makers like me with a decade or more of experience it was never really an option. It would have taken me months and hundreds of dollars just to get certified on all the tools I already use and own.

      You say that but... my hackspace is one where any yahoo can have a go at almost anything (with very few exceptions). End result is that most things are broken most of the time and really nice expensive kit gets trashed.

      I know it kind of sucked to get recertified, but trust me it sucks harder when you set aside time t owork, get over there and find all the tools fucked up.

      • Re:To many classes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @06:40PM (#55558237) Homepage Journal

        The hackerspace I go to does put you through certification classes for the obviously delicate stuff (laser cutter, welders, lathe, mill, 3d printers) but you can use almost anything else, and no one seems interested in your certification status for woodworking equipment.

        Of course, it's not as shiny at TechShop, and we never have enough room nor electrical service to do everything at once, but it's friendly, lots of people involved with decades of experience, and affordable - free if you've got no $, but you can contribute.

        I've been to the Chandler TechShop a few times for events, it's not close enough for a membership, and it was busy, but it seemed that classes were a revenue source. Unfortunate to see it go, but our space will be looking to pick up some of their tools cheap, if the trustees liquidate.

        • Re:To many classes (Score:4, Informative)

          by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @07:14PM (#55558431)

          > no one seems interested in your certification status for woodworking equipment.

          Most woodworking equipment is robust enough that average misuse won't damage it, and gross misuse is usually harder on the meatbag attempting it than the machine. Example, in the contest of idiot vs lathe, always bet on the lathe. And have a phone handy for the 911 call.

          • Re:To many classes (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @08:29PM (#55558903)

            gross misuse is usually harder on the meatbag attempting it than the machine.

            That might have been the problem. Liability insurance may have killed them.

          • Re:To many classes (Score:4, Informative)

            by dex22 ( 239643 ) <plasticuser@gma i l . com> on Thursday November 16, 2017 @02:52AM (#55560497) Homepage

            Former member here. They had the table saws that fired an aluminum block into the blade if you touched the blade - to protect you. That would require the charge cartridge and block, and the blade, being replaced. Over $120 a pop. Nice for safety, except it would fire off for things like damp wood.

            What killed them was the required classes to use anything. You'd join ($100) then the random selection of stuff you'd want to use would cost $300-400 all in to get certified for. If the certification classes were a nominal fee, I would a) still be a member and b) have used a lot more gear.

            They were also crap at supporting electronics.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think it's important to make sure people know how to use a tool before using it but there is a difference between that and you must take x class at y time for z money in order to use a given tool. Many hackerspaces have tool stewarts and you have to get their sign off to use something but unlike tech shop that doesn't always involve money. For example with techshop I asked if I could skip the welding class. They said no. I offered to show them welds I had done, video of me welding, i offered to weld in fr

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      Please. We have people that would come into the rock shop and say "Yea, I know how to use this" only to have the motor bound up and burning in five minutes.

      This is why warehouses won't hire you as a forklift driver until A. you've gone through the 'certification process' outside of the company and received a certificate and then B. passing their own in-house forklift test (which is the one actually mandated by OSHA and is the only one that matters, the 'certification shops' are just BS money makers.)

      Did the

      • When he's referring to tools, he means the ones you go to the space to use because you don't have room/money/both to have one yourself, like a cnc or laser cutter or lathe, etc.

    • The problem is for every person like you, there's a hundred others that claim to have the experience and knowledge and then if taken at their word, they end up wrecking a multi-thousand dollar CNC machine because they're a lying sack of crap.

      • Sound like the bulk of the maker community is full of bullshit artists who don't actually know their ass from a hole in the ground.

        • Sadly that's what happens when a lot of "makers" think a youtube video is a substitute for training/experience/both.

        • The local hackerspace has trained personnel who would happily help you and guide you in using and producing stuff from those special machines such as CNC and lathe. They don't force you to take classes. If you need something laser-etched, you just holler and someone who is trained into using that thing would come and help you with getting it done.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      It was a great idea but they made you take a class to touch just about every tool so for makers like me with a decade or more of experience it was never really an option. It would have taken me months and hundreds of dollars just to get certified on all the tools I already use and own.

      If you already have the tools, then why bother? Just use your own.

      Take classes on the ones you want to use, the ones you don't own.

      And then take classes on the stuff you do own, because perhaps there are differences between yo

    • they made you take a class to touch just about every tool

      The classes were quick and hands-on, often just 20-30 minutes, with plenty of practical tips in addition to safety. I never felt they were a problem, and I learned something in every class, even when I had previously assumed I was an "expert"

    • I was a member for a few years.

      I didn't mind the classes that much. I saw many kids use laser cutters and fuck them up. their parents just let them run wild there and that was a really bad idea. some kid just stared at one of the cutters while it caught fire (!) and he just STOOD THERE, gaping. I had to open the cover and blow out the flames. stupid idyut!

      so, yes, you HAVE to take 'safety' classes on $30k epilogue laser cutters and such.

      I'm just so bummed out that I now have no other place to go to do

  • by cheese_boy ( 118027 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @06:23PM (#55558121)

    I am *so* glad I didn't buy a membership a year ago when they were trying to raise funds for moving the San Jose shop.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am *so* glad I didn't buy a membership a year ago when they were trying to raise funds for moving the San Jose shop.

      But maybe if you had, they wouldn't have run out of money. Did you think of that? DID YOU!?

      • But maybe if you had, they wouldn't have run out of money. Did you think of that? DID YOU!?

        I know you're joking.

        But I'll answer anyway.

        It was $7500 for "lifetime" membership.
        or $5k for 5-year pre-paid membership
        https://web.archive.org/web/20... [archive.org]

        Another article said something about them losing $30k/month in Pittsburgh.
        I don't think my $7.5k would have helped much.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      I bet a lot of people will be saying that right about now.

      All without realising that, if you had done so, you could have saved them.

      • I bet a lot of people will be saying that right about now.

        All without realising that, if you had done so, you could have saved them.

        At the time I looked at it and decided that $7500 buys me a lot of tools - and access to them in my garage is a lot more convenient.
        And I didn't have any projects planned for the next year that I'd be able to transport to there.

        I am sad to see them go.
        Just as I was sad when I heard that the Sawdust Shop had gone out of business.
        (Not I lost/wasted $7500 sad - but still sad)

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      I am *so* glad I didn't buy a membership a year ago when they were trying to raise funds for moving the San Jose shop.

      Imagine how happy you'd be if you'd got in on the $750 membership deal they were running for Halloween!

  • That was my suggestion early on. Bigger impact and less risk. Overseas techshops are staying open because they are, in essence, franchises.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been a member for 6 years. This was a special work place in a city with such high rents, it makes your mortgages look affordable. Granted classes are necessary, it's an investment in yourself, in addition to their responsibility. I could use equipment that's professional quality to produce prototypes, prior to a small production run, or gifts, or side projects. These machines are financially out of reach for me Metal CNC ($10k), laser cutter ($25k), Wood CNC ($18k), and waterjet ($80k). Upkeep on

  • 1. First San Jose location downtown made no sense. It was in a location ripe for development, which of course happened. So they had to start over . Were locations in other cities as poorly selected? 2. With amateurs using tools, the liability insurance must have been huge. 3. Just having one person around from 9am to midnight would be expensive, much less instructors, etc.. 4. How do you control such an operation to prevent damage and theft?

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