Collaborating for effectiveness: Shared workshop and fabrication studio Made In Workshop

Introduction of new machines and facility illustrate the new capabilities that are now given to members.

In manufacturing and machining facilities today, automation applications tend to call for robots that are powerful and perilous. That is, robots with a high payload and high work rate, typically fixed in one place and operating behind a safety fence. They are productive and have a myopic focus on moving a component as efficiently as possible from point A to point B. Of course, there are many other variations of how robots can be programmed to be used in one or more specific operations or processes. But a robot’s movements will forever seem as cold as they are efficient, and possibly even threatening.

Made In Workshop is a shared workshop and fabrication studio where members – companies and individuals – can make use of the equipment and workshop space

This is why it was refreshing to visit a workshop and fabrication facility with a difference that is run by Henry Levine, a passionate and warm owner of a company that is unusual but very practical. Made In Workshop, also referred to as a makerspace, is a shared workshop and fabrication studio based in Randburg, Gauteng. In essence individuals and companies can make use of the equipment and workshop space that they would love to be able to own but are not in a position to, and in so doing not feel threatened.

“Made In Workshop does not offer machining or fabrication services but rather access to the tools, machinery and workspace that helps individuals and companies to turn their idea into a manufactured product and then hopefully start their own successful business with their own equipment,” explained Levine.

“The makerspace idea originates from the USA. The concept is about lowering the barriers of entry for people to express their creativity in a physical way. It is about people getting together, working creatively, inspiring each other, engaging with new technology, and building a bottom-up economy, as the MakerSpace Foundation describes it,” continued Levine.

The Made In Workshop workshop is equipped with CNC machines

“It is a collaborative work space inside a facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. These spaces can be open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, soldering irons, woodworking equipment and even sewing machines.”

“Co-working is a self-directed, collaborative, flexible and voluntary work style that is based on mutual trust and the sharing of common core values between its participants. In these co-working environments, one tends to find people from the same industry or background sharing the space, whereas in a makerspace it is quite common to find people from totally different industries and backgrounds working in unison. For example, on one side of the workshop, Craig is assembling his composting mulching machine, when Johan walks in to use the 3D printers to build a part for his company’s latest prototype.”

A recent addition to the equipment list is a Sahinler hydraulic profile and pipe bender supplied by Machine Tool and Design Technology

“A makerspace can also be an extension of a user’s own workshop where one needs to use a set of tools or machines to complete a project, which they do not have access to. These are usually tools that have a very high capital and running cost, which need to be housed in a warehouse and run on phase electricity and sometimes compressed air. The costs of owning and maintaining a dedicated workshop or office space can be overwhelming, which is why the idea of a co-working space or makerspace becomes very appealing as these costs are shared amongst the members using the facility.”

Free training
“We often have new members who do not know how to use the machinery. We provide them with training, but we often find that their interaction with other members improves their confidence and abilities on the machinery. If we have an open attitude towards training and spreading knowledge on manufacturing techniques, users become more willing to help each other. This is the main reason we provide most of our training on the machines free of charge to members.”

“Made In Workshop has invested in a shared workshop equipped with heavy duty industrial machinery, such as laser cutters, lathes and CNC equipment. The fourth industrial revolution has made these types of equipment easier to use and more appealing than ever. Users can develop prototypes and products at a much faster rate than ever before with the help of these machines.”

A member at work

“From a cash flow perspective, a makerspace is ideal for start-up entrepreneurs looking for workshop space and equipment without the high upfront costs. The value offered by makerspaces to SME manufacturers cannot just be measured in terms of capital expenditure, but also in terms of flexibility and time.”

Growth: New equipment and workspace in Strydom Park
“Just before the lockdown began we received delivery and commissioned our new Sahinler 45 ton ironworker and section bender. The machine has been supplied and installed by Tim Gilbert of Machine Tool and Design Technology, our main machine supplier, both on the metal and woodworking side.”

“Just prior to that Tim had also installed a Sahinler hydraulic profile and pipe bending machine.”

“The introduction of these two new machines illustrate the new capabilities that we have given members of Made in Workshop.”

“However, we are now taking it even further. We have purchased a 1 600m² property in Strydom Park, Randburg. The space comparison – currently we occupy 310m² – is indication of the growth and interest in the concept. It has also allowed us to really indulge ourselves in our own ideas and concepts of what our facility should look like and offer members.”

Made In Workshop is run by Henry Levine. He is seen in front of the new Sahinler iron worker supplied by Machine Tool and Design Technology

“Through the purchase we have acquired a surface grinder, a fly press and a spark eroder that needs a little work to be done on it. The seller, who is retiring, ran a mould and die business from the facility so he has very kindly left many other bits of equipment that we can make use of.”

New woodworking equipment
“The space that the new facility affords us is amazing. There are four separate engineering shops within one, as well as plenty of other space for storage that can be dedicated to individual members.”

“But equal in excitement, especially for our woodworking guys, is the installation of a new
heavy duty panel saw, a new thicknesser and a new vertical band saw, again all supplied and installed by Tim Gilbert of Machine Tool and Design Technology.”

“Officially we began operating from the new facility at the beginning of July.”

A CNC router and plasma cutter are also available for members use

“In the future, we see the maker and co-working communities merging to allow for a more collaborative environment between technical and creative individuals, and Made In Workshop wants to lead the way. We are actively looking at partnering with existing co-working spaces in the upcoming future.”

“I got my inspiration to create a membership-based, open-access DIY workshop and fabrication studio closely linked to the Maker Movement here in South Africa,” said Henry.

“I realised this is the work I want to be doing; I want to be around these machines. I wish to say it was pure business, but it was pure selfishness. I wanted those machines; I wanted to say I own a CNC router, and that I own a three-axis milling machine.”

The laser cutting machine

Since opening in 2016, Made In Workshop has helped makers bring creations of all different shapes, sizes and materials to life. Henry has his own pet projects that he works on, but admits that he spends most of his waking hours running Made In Workshop, so he has to sneak his projects into the workshop when no one is around.

“I have to get in very early to work on it otherwise I get side-tracked with running the workshop. I literally have to hide from people! I suppose I shouldn’t be mentioning that?” he laughs.

“But I do always get great satisfaction helping people bring an idea into reality.”

Made In Workshop has moved into a new workspace in Strydom Park that included the installation of a new heavy duty panel saw, a new thicknesser and a new vertical band saw, all supplied and installed by Machine Tool and Design Technology

The Made In Workshop comprises a fully serviced workshop space with 3-phase electricity, compressed air, workbenches, industrial metal and woodworking machinery including CNC removal and shaping machines, tooling, welding, laser and plasma cutting and fully licensed copies of CAMWorks, Sheetcam and other computer aided design applications.

For further details contact Made In Workshop on Tel: 087 701 4156 or visit