News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital

Don Drumm Studios

Lehmans


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business




Exploradio: Think[box] is Cleveland's free-flowing makerspace
Inventors, artists, and tinkerers have a new seven-story playground in the expanded think[box] at Case Western Reserve University
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
The renovated Richey Mixon building is the new home of think[box], Case Western Reserve University's high-tech makerspace.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

It’s being called an inventor’s paradise. 

ThinkBox is a fully outfitted makerspace on the Case Western Reserve University campus with millions of dollars’ worth of equipment free for students and the public to use.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St. Clair tours the place that’s providing tools for Northeast Ohio’s newest entrepreneurs.

 

LISTEN: Exploradio tours think[box]

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:12)


Grand opening celebration
Speech-making, balloons, and hoopla marked this month’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly renovated Richey Mixon building at Case Western Reserve University, home of think[box].

Think[box] manager Ian Charnas was understandably excited about the move from the previous 4,000 sq. ft. basement space to the new 50,000 sq. ft. facility. He says it, "gives us a huge opportunity to do more activities that we couldn’t do in that old space.”

The new think[box] is a nearly $10 million makerspace, or fab lab, where anyone -- artists, engineers, inventors, or tinkerers -- can meet and create. 

There are no membership fees or waiting lists, it’s first-come, first-served and free.

Charnas lays out the menu of tools available. It's a long list: "the laser cutters, the 3-D printers, the plotters, the sewing station, the computerized embroidery, the electronics center, the circuit board router, the wood shop, the panel saw, the metal shop."

Plus, he says they're adding a welding shop and, "a new kind of 3-D printing that we didn’t have before."  It's able to print in flexible silicone rubber of varying hardness, as well of varying color.

Rapid prototyping
Local entrepreneurs are already taking advantage of the new space. Scott Colosimo is the owner of Cleveland Cyclewerks. He's making, "intake runners for our new prototype motorcycles.”

Colosimo builds retro motorcycles but he doesn’t replicate vintage manufacturing techniques. He says, “back in the day, this would have been made out of wood." What would have taken a skilled craftsman a couple of days to fabricate is now being printed out of ABS plastic in about an hour.

Think[box] provides 3-D scanning and printing technology that is well beyond the price range for a start-up that may need rapid prototyping, says Charnas.

He shows me a pistol gripped 3-D scanner, "a $100,000 line item," he says. The Fortus 400 3-D printer cost $170,000, "so to be able to offer these things at no cost beyond consumables to the public is incredible.”


It's not about building skills
Next stop is the wood shop, where we meet staff member Ben Guengerich, a recently graduated engineer who hired on at think[box]. He's demonstrating the ShopBot, a computer-controlled table cutter equipped with a spindle that can cut any pattern out of wood or plastic sheets.

But Charnas says the emphasis is on quickly fabricating a part for a prototype, not mastering a skill.

He says, "there’s a time and place for making fine furniture and wood working," but, "when, in a utilitarian fashion, you need to get something done with accurately spaced holes or accurately tolerance features on a part, this is how you do it.”

Think[box] opened three of its seven floors this month as efforts continue to raise another $25 million for the complete renovation.

When finished, Charnas envisions ideas flowing upward through the building -  from brainstorming on the second floor, to third floor prototyping, to building a business plan on the fourth floor.

 
Think[box] builds it, Launchpad sells it
LaunchPad is the campus based business development arm of the Blackstone global investment firm, and the fourth floor houses four LaunchPad offices. 

Charnas says here entrepreneurs will get advice on taking an idea to the next level.

“When it comes to getting a patent," he says, "or searching to see if someone has already invented that, or doing a market research report, or finding investors, or finding a business competition you might want to enter," Launchpad and other business experts will be there to help.

Floors five, six and seven are still empty, but will offer space for large-scale projects, start-up offices, and business support. The ground floor will be a public space with room for presentations and a café.

Charnas says think[box] offers instant access to tools and training without fee, and "that removes a lot of the hurdles that people have to acting on their ideas,"

He says the layout and raw style of the space, designed by Cleveland's studioTECHNE, "spur innovation.”

Later this month think[box] is hosting an innovation summit that will highlight Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial power and allow people with an idea to test out with national experts.

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of prevention..to protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2017 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University