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June 6, 2018updated 27 Jun 2018 9:35am

IBM Launches New Makerspace

IBM launches both new Makerspace and its DesignSpark marketplace

By CBR Staff Writer

Introducing the New IBM Makerspace

Over the past decade, makerspaces have increased in popularity globally.  These places act as communal workshops where makers can share ideas, tools and explore new technologies and the art of the possible. They are the ideal platform to encourage innovation and collaboration, and can pop up anywhere, including in schools, libraries, and community centres, in businesses. Different locations offer different resources.

With 3D printing, virtual reality equipment, and robot development kits, IBM Hursley has a new maker space for IBM employees to learn new hardware and IoT skills.

It’s a place where IBMers can go to learn new skills, share knowledge with colleagues, embrace the new trends in open source hardware, and develop their maker skills.

“Make an LED Blink Then Take it From There”

Like every other maker space, IBM’s new facility welcomes makers of all abilities, from total novices to that cool constructor who’s just built their own Terminator. Fellow makers will show newcomers how to make an LED blink and then they can take it from there.

IBM makers will have opportunities to showcase finished builds which promote IBM technology at developer outreach events and will be able to document projects at IBM Code so that external developers can build and remix projects.

In spite of the growth of all these collaborative maker spaces, one of the biggest challenges today for makers, engineers and entrepreneurs is to get their new products and creations in front of potential customers and test the market before committing their design to mass production, as many inventions never see the light of day.

In response to this challenge faced by makers, IBM and RS Components are delighted to announce The DesignSpark Marketplace which is an exciting step change: a platform built in the IBM Cloud Garage to foster collaborative innovation.

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Now, makers can truly test and kickstart their inventions and ideas, bridging the gap between the hobbyist and full commercialisation.

IBM UK CTO Andy Stanford Clark

The Marketplace is designed to enable makers, pro-makers, start-ups and small businesses to promote, test and sell their own inventions to the online community which includes more than 650,000 members.

The DesignSpark Community provides content for makers to learn from their peers and it provides free CAD software that enables makers to create new inventions and products such as Pi-Top, a laptop kit that was created to support STEM learning.

The DesignSpark Marketplace addresses a key challenge faced by inventors: getting their products to market. The platform enables them to sell their products to other like-minded inventors, makers and big thinkers.

As industry boundaries converge and business models transform, businesses must stay relevant and deliver compelling user experiences. Together IBM and RS Components have built an innovative solution that enables makers and many others to list their products and promote them to a wide audience.

This launch marks the latest exciting milestone for the innovation partnership between IBM and RS Components where the intersection of technology, combined skills and agile development processes are fostering innovative new projects, encouraging entrepreneurship and maintaining the ability to differentiate competitively.

The Designspark Marketplace was built on the ShareTribe base product and modified to suit the designs produced by the IBM Garage and the extra functionality required by RS Components. The following IBM Cloud technologies were integrated with this base:

  • Kubernetes – Used to host and manage the docker images for each runtime.
  • MySQL – The database used to back the website. Contains listing information, customer information, transaction information, email and most of the configurable text used across the site.
  • ElasticSearch – Used to replace the search functionality across the site. Chosen to avoid the need to provision an extra container in Kubernetes just for search.
  • SendGrid – Used for sending emails from the site; on sign up, during the purchases flow, and when users send each other messages.
  • Cloud Object Storage – Used for the site images and the images uploaded by sellers on their products.
  • Redis – Used for caching from the server to make the site as fast as possible by reducing client-server roundtrips.
  • Availability Monitoring – Used to monitor site downtime and loading times and alert in case of issues.
  • Continuous Delivery – Used to enable the DevOps pipeline so that code changes can be automatically run through build, test and deploy.

There were also external integrations with RS Components to enable advertisements and to use DesignSpark’s login, as well as Paypal and Stripe for taking payments.

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