WeWork, a leading name in shared workspace hire and hot-desking, has launched a pilot project introducing 3D printers and laser cutters to its offices.
To test the popularity of the facilities, one WeWork Lab each in London, San Francisco, Houston, New York and Seattle will be upgraded with Formlabs and Glowforge hardware.
The WeWork life balance
WeWork, which is in the process of rebranding as The We Company, was founded in New York City in 2010 by entrepreneurs Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann. Its ethos is “To create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.” Under this premise, in addition to office space and furnishings the company offers workshops and social events for its members, and places an emphasis on its common areas, designed with a “living-room-style” decor.
From one building in New York’s SoHo district, in the past 9 years the company has collected more than 485 locations in 28 countries around the world, managing over 45 million sq ft. of office space. In this time, the company has also acquired the Flatiron School of coding, and user-generated events hosting website Meetup. In January 2019, WeWork had a valuation of $47 billion. Since then, global banking firm HSBC has signed a lease with the company for the “world’s largest co-working space” coming soon to Waterloo in London.
An extension of the initial WeWork platform, the first WeWork Labs space was opened by the company in 2011, acting as a startup incubator. Indicating the vision for this branch of the company Katie Perkins, Creative Director, WeWork Labs, comments, “We see WeWork Labs as a platform for creators, innovators and makers alike, and believe partnering with Glowforge and Formlabs will give our members even more of an opportunity to take their ideas, and bring them to life.”
3D printing at WeWork Labs
As part of the new partnership, Formlabs will be allocating a number of award-winning Form 2 SLA 3D printers to the new WeWork Labs, and Glowforge will be supplying its “3D laser printer.” To start, only one Labs site in each city will be hosting the systems, in New York it will be WeWork 148 Lafayette St. and in the San Francisco area Riverpark Tower, 333 West San Carlos Street, San Jose. Seattle’s WeWork at 1411 4th Ave will have the facilities as well as the WeWork Jones Building at 708 Main Houston, and WeWork at 70 Wilson St, in London. Membership prices for each of these sites varies depending on location. In Houston’s Jones Building, Hot Desk membership starts at $250 per month, with a dedicated desk from $455 and private office from $650. In the San Francisco area, prices start at $380 for a hot desk in the San Jose WeWork Lab.
Use of the Form 2 and Glowforge system is included in the membership of each of the sites, though members will need to provide their material of choice for use on the machines. Sample materials will however be provided for the first use of the systems.
Starting out itself only eight years ago, Formlabs is familiar with the would-be members of WeWork Labs. As highlighted by Max Lobovsky, CEO and co-founder, Formlabs, in relation to this partnership, “WeWork set out to create entrepreneurial community spaces where mindshare and creativity could be shared and flourish. I know the struggles hardware start ups go through intimately and it’s great to know that we are helping someone make something they believed should exist in the world.”
“This partnership with WeWork,” Lobovsky adds, “is going to expand that access and development opportunity for early to mid stage companies, and that makes me incredibly excited to see what these companies are going to do.”
Glowforge, on the other hand, was founded in 2014, and makes a laser cutter/engraver that also facilitates post-assembly of projects into 3D objects. The company’s CEO Dan Shapiro, adds, “We are thrilled to partner with WeWork Labs to provide their community of entrepreneurs and startups alike access to the tools that will help them create corporate giveaways, new product prototypes, and full production runs – everything to take their dreams from idea to creation.”
Incubators and makerspaces
Though not working entirely with the same ethos of well established workshops like Fab Labs and makerspaces, it’s interesting that WeWork has identified a place for 3D printing and laser cutting/engraving technology within its incubators. Launched June 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron, Paris’ Station F campus had similar plans, founding a tech lab on the site for members to prototype their products. Station F’s tech lab is managed by TechShop Ateliers, a dedicated branch of international DIY company Leroy Merlin. In South America, Leroy Merlin has also launched its own Fab Lab-inspired Bricolab initiative in several of its stores.
On the new pilot project from WeWork, Perkins concludes:
“We are incredibly excited to welcome two leading brands and their products into our community, giving creators access to the tools they need and inspiring new creators to be makers themselves.”
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Featured image shows a WeWork Labs space in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Photo via WeWork