Our last post gave a glimpse of the kinds of tools and equipment Gearbox members will have access to. Today, we’re going to answer all of the other questions that follow: how does one become a member? How much does it cost? Can just anyone walk in and use the tools, or do I need training or qualifications? What about safety? Let’s talk about safety first (safety is always first!). Gearbox is a “members only” space, meaning only Gearbox members and staff are allowed to operate the equipment. Before using any tool or machine, members must go through Gearbox’s training program. Gearbox provides all necessary safety equipment (safety glasses, protective gloves, etc.), and provides clearly marked rules and guidelines for the safe use of all tools and machinery. Gearbox staff are there at all times to supervise and train, and Gearbox’s safety infrastructure (fire extinguishers, emergency eye wash stations, materials storage, etc.) have all been designed to the highest international standards. Safety is our number one priority!
So who gets to use Gearbox, you might ask? Everyone is welcome to join Gearbox as a member! Our training program assumes no prior knowledge of engineering, tool use, or fabrication at all. We welcome complete beginners alongside established product developers (if you have extensive experience using the kinds of equipment available at Gearbox, you will still need to sign up for our training program and prove your ability to operate the machinery, but you won’t have to sit through hours of beginner-level classes). The workshop has been designed by professional product developers specifically to help entrepreneurs launch new products and businesses, and we do give priority to people developing new commercial products, but no professional experience is required to join Gearbox – just passion and creativity!
Due to our limited space at Gearbox Lite, you will have to apply to become a member (our next post will explain how that works). Members will have access to the space Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm. There are two tiers of membership to choose from: “1st Gear” grants you access any two days of the week, while “2nd Gear” grants five days. A 1st Gear membership will cost 4,000 KSh per month (per person), and a 2nd Gear membership will cost 10,000 KSh per month (per person), with 5%, 10%, and 20% discounts for buying three months, six months, or a full year in advance.
Once you’ve paid your membership fee, your next step will be to go through Orientation. This is a specific class that will be offered once or twice a week (stay tuned to future posts for the class schedule), and will cover ground rules, general safety procedures, and show you where everything is. After taking the Orientation, you can begin using the space and any hand tools or machines that are NOT bolted down.
For those tools and machines that are not covered in the Orientation, there is a specific training course that you will be required to take before being allowed to operate that machine. These courses will be offered on a regular basis, and must be signed up for in advance (again, stay tuned for the class schedule). Most classes will be an average of four hours long, though some of the more advanced equipment may require multiple classes over several weeks (such as CNC machines).
Once you have taken the necessary training class (and proven that you were paying attention and can operate the equipment safely), you are allowed to use it whenever you need to. Machine time can be reserved at the front desk (if you need to do four hours of work on the laser cutter next Tuesday, for example), otherwise they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some machines (such as the laser cutter, CNC machines, or 3D printers) will have a low hourly use fee from 500-1,000 KSh per hour, but most are included in the price of your membership.
Consumables (like machine oil, for example) are provided by Gearbox, but materials (like wood, metal, or 3D printer filament) must be purchased or provided by the member. We have a small inventory of items like 3D printer filament that are available for purchase on site, but expect to bring electronic components or wood, metal, or plastic stock with you. Along with the class schedule, some of our next posts will have the full list of prices, services, and materials available at Gearbox.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org! As mentioned, our next few posts will cover how to apply to become a member, the full service and price list, and the class schedule. If you’ve been dreaming about things you would love to build, if only you had the tools, it’s time to start getting excited!