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NextFab makerspaces provide state-of-the-art manufacturing tools and training to students, artists, and entrepreneurs of all skill levels. Photo: NextFab
NextFab makerspaces provide state-of-the-art manufacturing tools and training to students, artists, and entrepreneurs of all skill levels. Photo: NextFab

NextFab marks 10-year anniversary with community celebration

Inclusive innovation remains the focus for NextFab as the Philly-based makerspace network celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

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On Saturday, June 15, NextFab will celebrate its ten year anniversary with a community event at their flagship location on Washington Avenue.

The outdoor celebration is set to feature interactive exhibits, live music, local food vendors, and a beer garden operated by Dock Street Brewery. Event-goers will also have the opportunity to tour the makerspace and pitch entrepreneurial ideas to business mentors from the Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.

NextFab is a network of makerspaces that provide state-of-the-art tools and technology, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and soldering equipment to students, artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs of all skill levels. They also offer a variety of educational and entrepreneurial training programs to members at their three locations.

The initiative was founded by Dr. Evan Malone in 2009. While pursuing his PhD, Malone worked at a community technology center in Pretoria, South Africa and was struck by the impact that access to technology could have on young people.

After brief instruction, members of the Pretoria community were able to use laser cutters, 3D printers and other advanced devices to prototype their own ideas and engineer products to address local needs.

The experience was a firsthand illustration to Malone of what can happen when state-of-the-art tools are placed in the hands of everyday people. He saw potential in the idea of building a similar social enterprise in Philadelphia to drive equitable technological development and inclusive economic growth.

“We want to show that hardware is as part of the future as software is and that anyone can get their hands on it and learn a skill that they may not have ever learned before,” NextFab marketing director, Eric Kaplan, told AL DÍA.

Advances in 3D printing and the evolution of the manufacturing industry could have significant implications on a city like Philadelphia— once nicknamed the “Workshop of the World” for its robust manufacturing economy.

“I personally can’t think of a better place than Philadelphia to be the focal point of this next manufacturing and technological revolution,” said NextFab diversity coordinator, Jess Eskow.

The team at NextFab understands that generating such a movement in the city depends on engaging and empowering all communities of the region. That’s why accessibility remains at the center of the company’s mission, according to Eskow.

“What’s really important to us as a company is to always be evolving and growing and trying to be as inclusive as we possibly can, and learning how to do it,” Kaplan added. “We want to be able to be a business that shows up for all of the people and in our city.”

The 10-year anniversary celebration is free for the public. Festivities begin at 2pm.

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