South London Makerspace (SLMS) is a not-for-profit, shared access community workshop with 350 members based in a self-renovated railway arch in Herne Hill, London.
The makerspace is run by volunteers and has facilities for 3D printing, textiles, electronics and woodworking to name a few. Many members set out to use the facilities for personal purposes but many have gone on to develop products for sale and two have even started their own businesses as a result. Alongside being a creative hub for members, SLMS have created a strong social environment, often running public events and opening the makerspace to support other community groups.
A cornerstone of South London Makerspace's vision is for knowledge transfer and skill sharing between members. With no formal training provided, members learn how to use the technology from the more experienced members, and the close proximity of the different technologies means that members quickly pick up new skills.
When still a relatively small makerspace with around 30 members, SLMS began looking to add laser technology to their portfolio.
Selecting the right laser machine supplier was essential for SLMS. Whilst many members had previous experience with laser machines, as a volunteer-run makerspace, SLMS needed not only a laser machine that was easy to learn and operate but also a supplier who would support them throughout the buying process and beyond.
For many members, the experience of laser machines had been gained on imported Chinese laser machines. Whilst cheaper than those designed, developed and built in Europe, the Chinese models are renowned to require frequent maintenance and suffer from long periods of downtime. The SLMS team were determined to provide a more efficient and reliable laser cutting solution for the members.
Having approached several major laser machine suppliers with a promotional/community benefit proposition, there was only one supplier who offered the support that they were looking for.
"We can confidently say that SLMS has the best laser cutter of any non-profit makerspace in the country. The Speedy 300 cuts faster, lasts longer, and stands up better to constant use by a large group of people of varying skill levels. We'd also like to give special praise to Trotec's Area Manager and the technical service who have been there to support us with our purchase since the very beginning."- Dermot Jones - Director of South London Makerspace -
Trotec were quick to respond to South London Makerspace's enquiry, with Trotec's area manager working closely with the makerspace to find the right machine to suit their requirements. Ultimately, a part-exchanged Speedy 300 laser cutter was chosen as the ideal machine for the makerspace.
Featuring a bed size of 726 x 432 mm, the Speedy 300 model is ideal for processing the wide variety of materials and offers durability and reliability for the range of laser cutting applications demanded by the 350 + makerspace members.
In addition to its versatility, the Speedy 300 machine requires very little maintenance and cleaning due to InPack Technology which protects the axes and moving parts from dust and debris – ideal for multiple user locations like makerspaces and fab labs.
Since it was installed, the Trotec laser cutter has been a star attraction at the makerspace, offering a sturdy workhorse for the 350 strong membership to utilise. Within its four years, South London Makerspace has grown so rapidly that it has stopped accepting new members and is looking to expand the creative environment beyond the current location.