The last 10 years have seen the growth of hackerspaces, makerspaces and Fab Labs: workshop where lovers and creators of technology, mechanics, interaction and art can meet, share their knowledge and collaborate to create diverse objects. In these places it is possibile to find – and use – equipment that is typically not available to individuals due to its hich cost: drill presses, welding equipment, laser cutters, 3D printers, and more. With a reasonably priced gym-like subscription, anyone can access the equipment, which democratizes production.
In the beginning, the high initial cost needed to set up these spaces limited the expansion of this phenomenon, since only a few big institutions were able to finance this kind of workshop.
Today, however, there are thousands of such places. Even though they are typically found in universities and other institutions, commercial hackerspaces/makerspaces are growing.
The German Patent and Trademark Office has recently rejected an application for the work “Makerspace”. Unluckily patent trolls seem to be everywhere, but the makerspace filing the request was not actually trying to secure the name, but trying to make sure that it would stay free for anyone to use. Read all about it on Hackaday: “Makerspace” Trademark Application Rejected | Hackaday.
More on makerspaces in Chapter 2 of the book, “The origins of the Movement”.