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Maker Bench opens doors, provides resources to Valley builders

April 21, 2011

Underneath the technical aspects, the advanced hardware, electric work and engineering, David Uhlman's goal is a simple one.

"Let's just get together and build something," Uhlman says. "Less talking. More doing."

Uhlman is the founder of Maker Bench, a brand new Tempe business that is opening its doors in hopes of bringing in Valley innovators and entrepreneurs who want to build something, literally.

"From welding, metal working and traditional shop work to electronics, biology, arts and modern design, Maker Bench has all the pieces to help people bring their ideas into reality," Uhlman says.

Maker Bench is a unique place, he explains, one that will attract people from across the spectrum to "get their hands dirty and to interact with a community that has a lot of experience and a lot of excitement about making projects of all shapes and sizes."

Inside, people will have access to all kinds of light and heavy equipment, along with other resources that aspiring engineers, inventors, creators and innovators might not have had a chance to work with on their own.

Access to the shop areas, excluding special events, is available on a subscription basis that ranges from $45 to $250 a month depending on users and volume.

Meanwhile, access to the project bar, where different projects rotate on a weekly basis, is available without subscription. Attendees would only need to purchase a kit, or a small collection of materials in some cases.

Use of heavy equipment, like a laser or plasma cutter for instance, is charged per minute of use.

Located just off of University and the Loop 101, Maker Bench will showcase abundant resources, mentoring and an open-source environment for people to create, build and collaborate.

"From a concept standpoint we really want to prove the Maker Bench concept as a way to foster economic development to help people get new ideas off the ground and build them to viable startup businesses," Uhlman says.

Already, Maker Bench is working with local businesses like Local Motors, a Phoenix-based car company and Valley photography company Epiphany Photo Studios.

Maker Bench is not focused only on large projects. The real joy, Uhlman says, is getting a bunch of like-minded people together who just want to build something.

Other projects have included a built from scratch espresso machine, an amateur micro-satellite, as well as a lot of simple every day projects like building barbecues or putting up indoor-gardening hydroponics systems to grow culinary mushrooms.

Uhlman, along with a pair of investors, put forward $250,000 in seed funding, securing Maker Bench as a startup business with potential to expand outside of Arizona.

On top of becoming one of the only workspaces of its kind in the country, Maker Bench carries a revenue generating aspect that Uhlman hopes will mean opening new locations elsewhere.

Maker Bench generates revenue through selling materials, subscriptions and kits, along with concessional revenue from coffee and soda sales.

Arizona has expanded a lot of chances for entrepreneurs to grow their ideas, Uhlman says.

"Especially in the Tempe area that has opened up a lot of opportunities for new and startup businesses to take root," he says, adding that he sees the Tempe area as becoming an entrepreneurial hub in the near future.

For more information on Maker Bench check out

Submitted by Kyle Patton, Writer, Office of University Initiatives