Above: Ross Mukai, founder of O'ahu Makerspace, coats a pair of stainless steel water bottles with a substance that will allow him to mark a pattern into the steel with a laser.
Summit (S): What is the concept behind the O'ahu Makerspace?
Nathan Higa (NH): The concept of the O'ahu Makerspace is more than just providing tools and equipment for people to use. It also is a way to get people with different interests and different disciplines together to be able to collaborate and come up with a better product than they would have alone.
That's the first part. The second part is that people don't know what they can do. Somebody who might want to weld but has no idea how to can come here and we can teach them how to weld, and then hopefully they can build up that talent and they can teach somebody else how to weld.
There are different types of makerspaces around the world—some focus on software, some focus on hardware, some focus on real heavy duty metal, woodworking, sewing etc. What we tried here is, all of us that come together, we all have different interests, but we all have the same goal.
S: How does one participate in the makerspace?
NH: The way it works it's like a gym membership. So it's $89 a month; you come here, you can use the equipment. Some of the equipment requires classes just so you don't get hurt.
For the most part people have to purchase their own supplies, but we didn't see anybody spending $250 to buy a whole role of vinyl when they only want to make one sticker. So we buy the roles and charge $2 per foot—but the nice thing is we have a whole bunch of different colors for people to use.
S: Do you run into any obstacles trying to run a makerspace here in Kalihi?
We have about 14 members right now—it kind of works out really well because not everybody's here all at the same time. So we haven't run into the problem where all these people want to do work at the same time.
Actually, what's nice about this location is that a lot of those suppliers are nearby. Home Depot and Lowe's are just a couple of blocks away; there's IC Supply—which is electronics—on Sand Island Access Road; there's Royal Metals that sells any kind of metal working material you could want.
Read more about O'ahu Makerspace here.