A shared work space for artists and scientists

At Factur, artists and scientists are able to bring their ideas to life through microprocessors, computer controlled laser cutters, 3D printers and more. We take you inside this collaborative space.


The cost of high-tech design tools can be prohibitive, a situation that led Douglas Brown to start a shared work space in Downtown Orlando.

At Factur, artists and scientists are able to bring their ideas to life through microprocessors, computer-controlled laser cutters, 3D printers and more.

We take you inside this collaborative space.

Every inventor knows the adage 'The right tool for the right job.'

But how to unleash individual's creativity when tools can cost tens of thousands of dollars?

Factur, in Downtown Orlando, offers one solution to that problem.

Factur's a maker space.

The concept of a maker space is, basically, a place for people to kind of come, utilize tools they wouldn't be able to afford, to educate the community on how to use these tools.

Factur is a labor of love for founder Douglas Brown.

I started Factur with the idea that I would be able to surround myself with talented artists, talented entrepreneurs, and talented machinists and mentors to kind of learn myself how the tools are used.

By design, the space is many things to many people.

We have a wide variety of members.

I think that we have a lot of retired individuals that have worked in this industry before.

They no longer have the workshop.

They don't have, even, a garage.

We also have a lot of new entrepreneurs that are looking to kind of create new companies, new designs, and they don't have the capital to buy the tools themselves, or even get the warehouse space required to kind of do production.

So we offer that ability for our members to come in, start their company.

Members have access to a number of tools to bring their ideas to fruition.

We do 3D printing with laser cutting, and we also do a woodshop, and we do a metal shop, and we have an electronics room, as well.

We have a laser machine.

It's used for cutting acrylic, for wood, for leather.

The machine itself runs for about $40,000, so it's very difficult for users or members or starting companies to afford that capital outlay.

Most Factur members pay a monthly fee.

Others pay with their time and expertise.

X-Factur is an opportunity here at Factur where you can volunteer time to help teach classes or help teach people on different equipment in exchange for the membership fee.

I volunteer here in the electronics room.

All right.

So this is the intro to Arduino.

Arduino is a set of open-source software and hardware.

The Intro to Arduino class kind of helps people get started with the Arduino hardware.

It teaches a lot of the basics of how to interface with the hardware, a little bit of the coding so that you can learn how to turn an LED on and off, how to get input from a button.

By the time you're done, you've got kind of a basic foundation to help build some type of project that you might be interested in.

In addition to providing access to expensive tools, Factur serves as a place where ideas can cross-pollinate.

I met another member here named Bill Ball, and, together, we both had a similar vision for a low-cost robot that people could learn about electronics and about robotics and about programming.

And so we kind of worked together over a couple months and put together an initial prototype for this robot, that our target is to try to keep it under $50.

This project really wouldn't have been possible without Factur.

Really, more than anything, it's the opportunity to meet people who have similar interests but different levels of expertise and different types of expertise.

I feel like I'm kind of a creative person, and I have a lot of ideas.

And I like to be able to get those ideas out to a certain point to see if it's worth going further with it.

And being able to learn the stuff that will teach other people, you kind of in turn learn a lot about your own ideas.

For Douglas Brown, it's also important that Factur welcomes a broad range of creators.

We're about as evenly demographiced as possible.

I mean, the concept there is we have an equal segment of artists that come in here that are looking to expand upon their art.

One of the pieces that I'm best known for around town is the dinosaur skull out of cardboard.

One of those artists is Bob Barnett.

I do a lot of work where art and technology meet.

I'm very inspired by science fiction.

Here, I get work with a lot of great engineers who have taught me a lot about electrical engineering and computer programming, and they're helping me with the process of building a better version of all the different things that I build.

This object exists in a niche of its own where it is the intersection of astronomy, computer programming, mechanical design, electronic design, graphic design, interface design.

It has so many different aspects that it ties into for this specific piece.

You can use it to point at objects in the sky and track them and take photographs of them, or you can use it to map an area of the sky.

You could use it also for home security.

You could plot the infrared temperatures of crops.

I wanted to build it for the common user.

It's only about $200 to build the thing, and it's all open-source architecture.

So you can program it yourself to do what you'd like it to do.

Factur may appear to be a cool workshop decked out with cutting edge tools, but ultimately, it's not just about shiny new hardware.

Factur is about people.

We have a number of really talented people that have kind of come out of the woodwork to come to Factur to kind of see their own dreams become a reality, and that's a wonderful thing, because when you work for a job and you have a plethora of tools but you can only work on those tools for somebody else, it's nice to be able to have the skill set to come someplace and work on those tools for yourself.

So that's one of the pride things that we have in Factur.

People should be empowered to be able to have the knowledge to create the ideas that they have so that they can share them with the world.