- The maker movement around the world is currently enjoying a strong period of growth. This community has proven to be extremely important to tech startup ecosystems globally.
- Central to the growth of the maker movement is the makerspace—centres that allow makers to innovate and create futuristic solutions for today’s problems.
- We take a look at four makerspaces that are helping spread the spirit of the maker movement in Malaysia.
With roots dating as far back as the 19th century, the community of builders and tinkerers known as the maker movement has now seen its relevance suddenly skyrocket with the advent of Industry 4.0.
Channels of consumer demand now dictate what is produced for the market and what isn’t, as opposed to the past when companies would create new products, which were then pushed to consumers.
With more support and recognition given to the maker community, we’re now witnessing the numerical increase of the humble makerspace—centres armed with cutting-edge tech facilities that enable inventive individuals to develop solutions for problems we never knew existed in the first place.
These centres challenge individuals to imagine concepts beyond the current norm, and have produced a number of interesting inventions over the past few years. Think of a device that allows humans to write and draw using their eye movement, or dresses that can relay the emotional states of the wearer.
So with all the good things coming out of makerspaces across the globe, it’s great to see more of these spaces and centres appearing locally. Below are some of the more prominent makerspaces and movements that can be found in Malaysia.
1. ME.REKA Makerspace
Named after mereka—the Bahasa Melayu word meaning “to design” as well as a reference to a collective group of people—ME.REKA is a makerspace based in Publika, Sri Hartamas that aims to educate would-be innovators and entrepreneurs in developing the tech of tomorrow.
The makerspace at ME.REKA allows individuals to experience 3D printing, virtual reality, and working with different textiles through the use of the various specialised labs available in their facility.
There are also short-term courses and workshops that individuals can participate in such as 3D modelling, laser engraving, and 20-minute VR experiences.
What they do: Maker education programmes including classes for kids and adults alike, short one-off experiences to create thing such as 3D printed keychains and go through VR experiences, timed rentals for specialised labs (textiles, VR, fabrications, etc).
KakiDIY is a maker community that links DIY enthusiasts, makers, and entrepreneurs in the collective sharing of ideas and services.
As an inclusive community, they host a slew of maker-related events, workshops, training sessions, and initiatives all in an effort to help spread the communal spirit of the maker movement.
Among some of the initiatives and programmes run by KakiDIY include the Kaki Repair movement, where participants from all walks of life are invited to learn how to fix their broken electronic devices instead of throwing them away.
What they do: Upcycling workshops, DIY initiatives including KakiDIY, classes for kids (robotics, drones, 3D printing, etc), hackathons, and more.
3. Fab Space KL
Fab Space KL touts itself as a creative space for imaginative individuals to bring their ideas to life. Their space in Lot 10 Shopping Centre houses a variety of fabrication equipment including 3D printers, UV printers, latex printers, and milling machines.
They also host activities to educate the general public about digital manufacturing by providing them hands-on workshops that focus on things such as 3D modelling and laser cutting.
Among other things, they also provide tailor-made workshops and dabble in corporate collaborations.
What they do: Digital fabrication services (3D printing, embroidery, CNC milling, latex printing, etc), Fab Classes (digital fabrication classes for beginners), custom-designed workshops for team-building and field trips, corporate collaborations.
4. Penang Science Cluster
As an initiative by the Penang state government to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, the Penang Science Cluster was birthed to provide the Penang populace with a place to learn about technical innovation and digital entrepreneurship.
Among some of the initiatives by the Penang Science Cluster include the Penang Science Cafe—a public social space for members of the community to come together to learn about science-related topics, as well as their very own makerspace and garage.
What they do: Science fairs, custom workshops for schools, member-based use of their makerspace with monthly training, maker meetups, and more.
It’s apparent that Malaysia now has a strong community of makers that are jumping at the opportunity to spread their enthusiasm and grow the local tech landscape into something truly prominent.
With other supporting cast such as MDEC and TE4P constantly putting in cultivation efforts through various events and initiatives, and private players such as Cytron Technologies who are helping local makers foster their creativity, it seems that now is the time for Malaysia’s maker movement to demonstrate just how much it’s capable of.
Feature Image Credit: ME:REKA Makerspace