Digital making and fabrication are becoming core areas of focus in many industries. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been leading the way in this field since it was founded in 2008. The charity's mission is to put the power of digital making into the hands of people worldwide. In 2011 the first low-cost, high-performance Raspberry Pi computer was released for people to learn, solve problems, and have fun with. Since then, Raspberry Pi has become the UK's best-selling computer of all time. The Foundation is constantly developing free resources to enrich the learning experiences of users, students, and also its team members ensuring longevity for the Raspberry Pi project.
Raspberry Pi recently relocated to a new headquarters in Cambridge. Looking for a way to further develop their scope, the team decided that implementing a makerspace within the HQ would be part of the next stage of the Foundation's development, providing team members with the opportunity to improve their skills in creating physical projects, as well as offering a practical space to run messier workshops.
Unlike in many makerspaces, membership is not open: members must work for either the Raspberry Pi Foundation or Raspberry Pi Trading. The makerspace currently features a wealth of tools and equipment for use by members, including 3D printers, woodworking tools, and other tools including belt sanders and soldering equipment.
During the planning process, Mark Calleja, Youth Partnership Manager for Raspberry Pi, and the Foundation team decided that a laser cutter would be the perfect tool to lay the foundation for the makerspace, allowing people who attend their workshops to realise their creative potential, and enabling staff to train in the best digital making practises.
Knowing the heavy use that a laser cutter would endure within a makerspace, Mark and the team wanted a machine that would continue to produce quality results regardless of the application and after repeated use. Aware of the strong reputation of Trotec, Mark decided to make Trotec his first point of contact for researching potential solutions for the makerspace.
"We purchased our Trotec laser because of the strong reputation Trotec has for being the most reliable and best laser systems on the market. The laser does not disappoint, the robust build and processing capabilities meaning that the laser continues to produce excellent-quality results even after heavy use, and it's easily adaptable to the wide range of projects demanded of it. The speed of processing is critical to ensuring that multiple members can get access to the machine without being held up for a long time while waiting for the completion of other jobs."- Mark Calleja - Youth Partnership Manager -
Since purchasing a Speedy 100 laser cutter from Trotec, Raspberry Pi team members have reaped the benefits of the machine; the laser cutter has proven to be the most popular piece of equipment.
Aside from its use within the makerspace, the Trotec laser is an extremely useful tool for the Foundation to prepare for events, especially external workshops. Rather than outsourcing exhibition stand kit, the team can create stand-ready installations in-house using a range of materials including acrylics and plywood.
The fully enclosed Speedy laser alongside its self-contained extraction unit, ensures a safe and clean working environment, and it’s used to create varied applications including commemorative medals and giveaways for attendees.
As an example of modern technology, the Speedy laser has proven to be an attraction to visitors: it’s an exhibit in itself and something the team is always happy to demonstrate.
Since opening its doors, the Foundation’s makerspace has become a popular space, with Foundation team members creating a wide range of different projects using its equipment. One of the most impressive projects made by young people in the makerspaces a hedgehog lodge: a fully automated waystation for hedgehogs in urban areas. The lodge features a Raspberry Pi as its core, with all actuating parts created from plywood and laser cut using the Trotec Speedy 100 system.
Speaking of the plans for the future of the Foundation and makerspace, Mark Calleja said that Raspberry Pi plans to continue to use the laser as a training resource to upskill staff, as well as creating different installations for events and beyond.
"We also use Trotec's TroLase Reverse to create medals which we give out during events. As a multi-layer material, it looks great and is easy to process using our laser."- Mark Calleja - Youth Partnership Manager -