The Foundery’s Maker Space Brings Entrepreneurs and Artists Together
101 W. Dickman St.
Industrial-grade maker space featuring metal, woodworking, prototyping, finishing, CNC tools, blacksmithing, textiles and bench tools.
Monthly membership fee: $150;
At The Foundery, an industrial-grade maker space in Port Covington in Baltimore City, the most important thing being created is community.
That community includes inventors, artists and entrepreneurs creating prototypes and building products, crafts people, and people in workforce development programs to learn new skills such as welding and CNC machinery operations.
Jason Hardebeck, who along with Corey Fleischer started The Foundery, notes the spelling of the name is deliberate because they wanted the space to appeal to founders.
“Both Corey and I are engineers, and our focus is providing access to industrial-grade tools and training for anyone, whether they have an idea for a product-based business or just want to learn a new skill,” Hardebeck says. Hardebeck earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s in advanced business studies from The Johns Hopkins University, while Fleischer holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from UMBC.
The Foundery features a full range of industrial processes, including woodworking, metal and textile shops, a machine shop, welding, a blacksmith shop, finishing shop, CNC machine tools that offer computer-aided precision, and a prototyping space with Computer-Aided Design software, 3D printers, CNC laser engravers, and electronics benches.
“We have a CNC water jet that uses water at 50,000 psi to cut through solid material,” Hardebeck says. “It can cut through 10-inch aluminum; we’ve used it to cut 2-inch steel, it can cut granite or marble, and entrepreneurs and companies use it to fabricate parts.” A 20,000-pound CNC router cuts flat materials at high speeds.
“We’re not just serving craftspeople; we are supporting entrepreneurs and startups who are moving from prototype to full production,” he says, noting The Foundery is also developing and launching a pre-apprenticeship program for manufacturing and skilled trades. “One of our focus areas is workforce development. We have tremendous capacity to train individuals in high-demand skills.” These skills include MIG and TIG welding as well as CNC machine operation, which are tools that are controlled by a computer.
But artists are just as important as entrepreneurs.
“The whole point is not just access to the equipment … it’s about the community we are cultivating,” Hardebeck says. “If you can get right brain and left brain people in the same room, anything is possible!”
The Foundery started four years ago as a small nonprofit in downtown Baltimore near Little Italy, and then partnered with Sagamore Ventures to build out their new location in City Garage. The 20,000-square-foot space opened in June, conveniently located right off I-95 in Port Covington.
“It’s an ideal location because we are only 1.5 miles from downtown Baltimore, and being right off I-95 and the 695 beltway makes it easy to serve Howard, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel counties,” Hardebeck says.
Marketing has been done mostly through social media and targeting key groups, such as schools, colleges and universities, and professional organizations such as engineering societies.
“Getting the customer in the first time is key,” Hardebeck says. “Most peoples’ eyes light up once they step into the shop and see the amazing selection of tools and equipment they can use.”
Members are required to take classes to get certified to use the equipment. Classes teach safety and basic operation, and most range from $25 to $75.
Recent classes included everything from wood lathe basics to welding to how to create a custom cookie cutter for the holidays using Fusion 360 and CAD – experience with that software is not necessary – and a 3D printer. For those intrigued by Fusion 360, a three-dimensional, solid modeling software that makes learning solid modeling easy and accessible, classes are available in that, too.
For $50, an introductory class in woodworking explains safety and basic operation of the miter saw, circular saw, jigsaw, orbital sander, nail gun, reciprocating saw, drill, belt sander, edge sander, spindle sander, disc sander, drum sander, downdraft table, and basic toolbox tools.
One class offers instruction on using a basic sewing machine, while another prepares students to use an industrial sized embroidery machine on their own. One class teaches how to make a simple canvas tote bag, and no sewing experience is necessary, but another workshop to create a custom cutting board requires experience or a class in basic wood cutting and surfacing, which is also offered. One of the most expensive classes in January 2017 at $400 is a workshop to create a hand-forged carbon general purpose knife with a wooden handle.
Upon completion of a class, students are given a free $50 day pass, which allows them to come back and practice their newly acquired skills. Additional day passes cost $50, and monthly membership is $150, which provides full access during working hours. The Foundery, which employs 10 staff, is open seven days a week.
The space has been designed with an open shop plan to foster creative engagement and encourage someone who may have expertise in one area to collaborate with someone with complementary skills in another area. “We’ve purposely avoided creating walls and defining workspaces,” Hardebeck says. “It’s all about the collisions. It’s an opportunity to learn and build, whether you want to weld or work with wood for your own pleasure or you’re interested in a new career path. The only real requirement is that you have to want to be here.” I95