How to FAB9 — the definitive guide to Melbourne’s newest makerspace

FAB9's entrance

You might be familiar with the term ‘makerspace’ — maybe you’ve even used a makerspace before. But have you heard about FAB9, Melbourne’s newest, high-tech makerspace?

FAB9 is a purpose-built space, where designers, makers and entrepreneurs of all kinds can access the training, tools and equipment they need to turn ideas into physical realities.

To help you get started at FAB9, we’ve created this definitive ‘how to FAB9’ guide. In it, you’ll learn the whole process of how to book a tour of FAB9, how to get your FAB9 membership, and how to be trained on our equipment so you can start making your dream project at FAB9.

Some of the machines on offer at FAB9

1. What we do

At FAB9, we live and breathe everything to do with makerspaces — but we know that not everyone is as familiar with them as we are. Our articles on Medium are a nice intro to the maker movement that has inspired the creation of FAB9, and a great way to learn all about our makerspace before you visit one in real life.

2. Who we are for

In short: FAB9 is for everyone!

In long: FAB9 is a place for hardware entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, tinkerers, craftspeople, artists, hobbyists and anyone who wants to experiment through the making of physical objects. Whether you’re an amateur working on a fun project, or an inventor set to create the next world-changing product, we’re open for people of all interests and skill levels.

How to FAB9

3. Tour the space

Tours are the best way to experience FAB9 for the first time. Aside from giving you the opportunity to see our architecturally designed space and brand new machines for yourself, taking one of our guided tours means you can chat with us — and ask us questions — in person.

We usually run tours on Thursdays, so book a spot at the date that suits you here.

4. Choosing your membership

Accessing FAB9 is like accessing a gym (that’s full of tools and machines designed for making) — you use the space by signing up for a month-to-month membership. Our memberships are flexible and on-demand, which means they are designed to cater to the needs of all kinds of makers. It also means they can be turned ‘on’ and ‘off’, as required.

Some of our members will only want to use part of the space and some of the equipment, while others will require full access to all of our labs and machines. And depending on the kind of project you’re working on, or business you’re developing, the amount of time you’ll need access to FAB9 will vary. We’ve tailored our membership options accordingly.

They are —

FAB9 membership table

If you’re not immediately sure which option will suit you best, it may help to ask yourself these questions and see which membership package you land on:

How to choose your FAB9 membership

5. Signing up for your membership

Once you’ve selected your FAB9 membership, you sign up for it with our online form. At the end of the form, you choose a time to come to FAB9 and complete your membership sign-up process with us, face-to-face. When you’re here, you’ll sign our terms and conditions, make your payment, and have your photo taken for your FAB9 membership card.

And when you’ve got that card in your hot little hands, it’s time to get orientated and inducted. Hurrah!

6. Inductions and assessments

We have some very high-powered machines at FAB9, and high-powered often means high-risk. Because your safety is the most important thing to us, we’ve designed a series of machine-specific Safety inductions. These informative and useful sessions are designed to teach you and your co-makers the FAB9 way to be safe and productive in our different labs, so they are essential for all members to complete prior to using the machines.

FAB9 provides power and hand tools

To gain access to our different woodworking machines and tools, members are required to take the following Safety Inductions:

  • Timber prep — where you’ll learn about the jointer, thicknesser, domino joiner, and router table
  • Timber saws — where you’ll learn about the table saw, miter saw, band saw and scroll saw
  • Power tools, hand tools & finishing — where you’ll lear about the oscillating belt sander, drill press and an array of drills and hand tools.

Each of the Timber shop Safety inductions takes 2 hours, and costs $50.

However, if you’re an experienced woodworker who’s already familiar with the equipment in our Timber shop, you can book a one-on-one Skills Assessment with our workshop manager to show that you know what you’re doing. Once you’ve got the workshop manager’s approval, you can use the machine. Assessment sessions take 1 hour to complete and cost $50, making them the fastest, cheapest way to get started in the Timber shop at FAB9.

Each of our Laser Cutting, and Electronics Equipment Safety Inductions cost $25, and also take 1 hour to complete.

Multicam Trident CNC router

Being the most powerful, complex and capable machine at FAB9, our Multicam Trident CNC router requires members to take a 6-part course before use. The course will take you through all of the CNC basics, such as CAD/CAM, G code (machine code), selecting cutters, and working with different materials. At $600, it is a unique opportunity for our members to learn how to operate a highly sophisticated piece of machinery that is ordinarily restricted to industrial use.

Just like our tours, our Safety Inductions and Skills Assessments can all be booked via Eventbrite.

7. Billing

Like a Netflix subscription, FAB9 memberships operate from month-to-month. Our monthly membership billing cycle occurs on the 1st and the 16th of every month, which means you have up to 15 days to complete your all necessary Safety Inductions, before your membership date kicks off.

To ensure you’re ready for that start-date, we recommend booking everything at the time you sign up for your FAB9 membership. (Having said this, we know life doesn’t always run to schedule, so if you need more time to get your Safety Inductions done before your membership start-date, speak to us, and we can adjust things accordingly.)

8. Accessing labs and machines with your FAB9 card

To ensure the machines you want to use are available each time you come to FAB9, you can book them in advance. Our machine-booking system — powered by Fabman (short for ‘Fabulous shared space management’ — not ‘Fabulous man’!) — is easy to navigate and quick to use. It’s also paired with your FAB9 membership card, which grants you access to our different labs and particular machines in accordance with your membership type and Safety Induction training. So future.

Once you’re a FAB9 member, all of our equipment costs nothing extra for you to use, with the special exception of the Multicam Trident Series 3000 CNC router and Epilog Helix 24 laser cutter. The reason? These two extremely powerful machines are expensive to run, so there is a small hourly charge to cover utilities.

FAB9 sells common materials and consumables

9. Materials and consumables

To make life easier for our members, FAB9 stocks a range of common materials and consumables that can be purchased in a ‘one-stop shop’, on-site. Having ready access to a good selection of timber, acrylics, filaments and finishes doesn’t just save you from having to roam around town to get particular materials — it also ensures that everything being processed in the makerspace is known, understood, and safe.

10. Storage

Keeping projects stored out of the way when they’re not being worked on keeps FAB9 clean, tidy and trip-or-spill-hazard-free — another win for safety! But we also know that many of our members will be working on large and/or cumbersome projects over varying periods of time, and that lugging work on and off site between making sessions won’t be an option.

To save you a headache, we have different kinds of storage for our members to rent, from pallet boxes ($50 per cubic metre per month), to more permanent storage areas, which can be organised on request. If you’re not sure what kind of storage you’ll need, chat with us and we can work out the best solution together.

11. Opening hours

As a space that caters to both professionals and hobbyists operating on vastly different schedules, FAB9 will be open on weekdays and weekends, and on two of our weekdays, we’ll be open late — until 9pm.

12. Take a tour!

So now that we’ve given you the definitive guide on ‘How to FAB9’, it’s time to book your spot in one of our wonderful tours!

Tours are the best way to experience FAB9. FAB9 will be running tours. Book a tour today

Article authored by Genevieve Callaghan from research conducted by Ying Zhang, for FAB9.

What did you think of it? Got anything to add? We’d love to hear from you. Send us your thoughts, questions, facts, frustrations, feelings and / or anything else —