For nerds for all things mechanical and programmable, walking into the Ocean State Maker Mill (OSMM) is moving! At first sight, the beautiful machines decorating the room draw the eye: 3D printers, CNCs, laser cutters and more! It is enough to bring a tear to the eye of any creative type.
The OSMM is a collaborative of skilled individuals who gather to utilize artistry, engineering and science to make ideas reality. Their space is located off Fountain Street in Pawtucket and houses an impressive setup. Two of the founding members, Matt and Mandy Stultz, started on their path to the OSMM when they developed a hackerspace in Pittsburgh in 2006. The couple’s efforts proved successful as that space is still in operation. Matt Stultz is very well known in the national makers community, and has even spoken at the White House about makers and makerspaces. He also is the digital fabrication editor for Make Magazine and was speaking at the hackerspace in Pennsylvania during my visit to the OSSM.
Matt and Mindy Stultz have proven themselves among makers and even inspired a movement nationwide: Rhode Island’s own Moat Boat Paddle Battle! This a competition of design, passion and the power of potential energy in which competitors race 3D-printed model boats powered by rubber bands (talk about clean energy). The idea for this event came from a project in a seventh grade shop class the couple attended together. They carved wooden boats and drove the vessels through water using the energy stored in wound elastics. The Moat Boat Paddle Battle has caught on, and other cities have been following in the jet stream of the OSMM by holding similar events.
The real heart of the OSMM are most certainly the 3D printers; there are so many of them it seems like they might be printing themselves overnight. It’s something out of a Chuck Hill sci-fi fantasy. There are more than 30 3D printers decorating nearly every corner of the OSMM space. In fact, the organization started as a small group of 3D printing enthusiasts who would meet in living rooms to discuss the fascinating developments in additive manufacturing. The group ditched coffee table chatter and took to action with each of the 12 members building their own 3D printers in a space at AS220. This group of people are the 3DP PVD OG’s. The 3DP PVD is a 3D print monthly meetup that occurs at 7pm on the second Wednesday of each month. This group of creative individuals presents ideas and challenges in 3D technology and together, they form a force of innovation and science.
The OSMM also hosts Synth Saturdays, as well as a Robot Club.
The synth club is a newer addition to the organization, founded by the author of the hacker manifesto himself, Loyd Blankenship (and no, I’m not kidding about the manifesto). The group includes skill levels from synth VIPs to the knob-twiddler hobbyists, and is open to those who aren’t organic to the whole synthesis module idea and just want to see the magic and listen to some sweet, sweet synthesized tunes.
The automation devotees of the OSMM Robot Club gather and build robots of all types, sizes and functions. For the recent Robot Block Party at Brown University, the group constructed a 7-foot ‘draw’ robot, bringing a little Inception to the creative process by creating something that creates (I know … whoa). This is only the beginning of this project’s development — I was let in on some of the innovations to look forward to. So if this kind of thing floats your moat boat, be sure to keep up with what is happening, or stop by the Robot Club on the first Monday of the month at 7pm.
There is a lot more to learn at the OSMM space, as they also offer a variety of classes for the beginner. These classes include intro to 3D printing, Raspberry Pi basics and intro to soldering, during which students get to construct their own Larson scanner, which you may recall from such films as Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica.
The OSMM space, located at 80 Fountain St in Pawtucket, is expanding and with all the sweet gear they’ve got, there is no question as to why. Although the space is currently under transition we are assured our yearning for learning will be quenched with classes starting back up this summer. Be sure to check out OceanStateMakerMill.org to keep up with information on all of the new classes and meetups!