Today, it operates out of an 18-acre industrial complex in San Leandro, Calif., across the Bay from San Francisco and just south of Oakland. It couldn’t bear to leave TechShop’s maker community behind (and it does still operate a wing of its business out of the space), so it decided to convince as many 3D printer companies as possible to join it at the space.
“If we can’t take it with us, then we’re going to have to create our own community,” CEO Espen Sivertsen said in an interview this week.
The result is what is now called the Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing hub, or BAAM. Type A Machines has dubbed the building, which was once a Chrysler plant and later a Caterpillar factory, “The Gate,” and seven other startups have already moved in. At least five more are on the way.
Sivertsen made it clear that Type A Machines is only interested in non-competing companies joining the location. But software, filament and service startups are all welcome, and the result is a wildly different mix of people and technologies.
“Our goal is basically to work together to create a seamless user experience,” Sivertsen said.
Mind 2 Matter, which uses 3D-printed models to create molds for metal casting, lives just down the hall from Type A Machines. Co-founder Rod Wagner uses his background in jewelry to create unusual shapes out of metal, while co-founder Justin Kelly builds custom Nerf guns with 3D printed parts.
It’s all done with off-the-shelf 3D printers, including Type A Machines’ Series 1. Every startup at BAAM uses the others’ products as much as it can and gives feedback. For example, Drakes Brewing Company, which has a tap room downstairs, recently wanted a way to recycle the plastic cups it serves to customers. OmNom, a BAAM member, started recycling them into 3D printer filament. Mind 2 Matter then turns them into coasters.
“Everyone is sort of helping everyone else out,” Wagner said. “In this facility, you have just about everything at your disposal to get things done.”
The building is still being finished. Type A Machines works out of one enormous warehouse-like room, but another was recently completed that will be filled with trees, tables, couches and anything else smaller startups might need to feel at home. They will have offices leading off from the main open space.
The existence of all of the other members of BAAM represent a trend Sivertsen said Type A Machines is noticing among its customers: People are starting small businesses based off of their printers.
“It’s becoming increasingly apparent people aren’t just using 3D printing for prototyping, but for small batch manufacturing,” Sivertsen said. “I really feel it on a fundamental level–we’re seeing our users build businesses.”