When Hana and Nate Kossak founded Ideas Squared in Phoenix, Arizona, they used a business model that sets them apart from hackerspaces and business accelerators in other parts of the country.
Ideas Squared is a full machine shop that focuses on education, enterprise, and community. “We are definitely a community hacker type space, but our model differs a little bit from the standard hackerspace. One of the things we aim to do is grow the community and we have a lot of things that are set up to help with that, including offering classes that teach people how to use machinery like the Tormach PCNC mill,” explained Hana Kossak. “We are proponents of ‘neighborhood manufacturing,’ and we’re trying to offer a place where the community can fulfill their low to medium manufacturing needs without having to source outside of the US. We achieve this by providing a place where people can do some of the manufacturing on their own. With this type of business model, we knew we couldn’t justify spending $100,000 on a CNC mill, yet we still needed a reliable, tough CNC machine. This is when Nate found the PCNC1100, which provided the solution we needed,” Hana recalled. For each of the two years since it was founded, Ideas Squared has grown in size and popularity. Ideas Squared now offers CNC classes using the Tormach PCNC1100. “One of our goals with the classes is to help the entrepreneur who is starting their own business be able to do every facet of the product prototyping phase they need. We also have what we call our ‘maker base,’ which is a pool of community contractors certified by Ideas Squared to provide quality product. They fill in the gaps where entrepreneurs may not have the necessary skills, and also provide custom solutions to the community such as signage, landscape art and shading, and displays,” Hana explained. “The CNC courses are broken down into three different sections,” Hana explained. “The first class covers the basic specs and functionality of the PCNC1100, as well as an in depth G code session in a classroom. In the second class we provide one-on-one instruction to ensure the student gets his/her hands dirty and spends as much time on the machine as possible. With the third class, we graduate the student and certify them to use the PCNC1100 in our facility. They design and machine a part on their own with the instructor looking on to ensure nothing goes wrong and that all safety procedures are followed.” The CNC classes can be completed in about fifteen hours and run approximately $800 for all three. Ideas Squared can fulfill bids for fabrication, sign making, mold making, and prototyping, either completing the project as a team or tapping into the Ideas Squared maker base. Recently they completed a custom mold making project for The No Drop as well as the United States Navy. “We also use our Tormach mill to make custom gears and parts,” Hana added. Many of the photos shown feature a prototype water shut off valve being milled on the PCNC1100.