Hackspace FAQs

***COVID-19***

Is the Hackspace open?

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have temporarily closed our physical space to general projects and research. At this time, the Hackspace is only open for COVID-19 related projects. If you believe your project fits this criteria, please email us at advancedhackspace@imperial.ac.uk.

About

What makes Hackspace different from Imperial Enterprise Lab?

To put it simply, Enterprise Lab is focused on turning a prototype into a product, while Hackspace’s focus is turning a concept into a prototype. Hackspace also does not just work with start ups, but we offer our services to all of Imperial College, including staff, students and researchers at all levels. To find out more about our facilities visit our facilities page here. To learn more about Enterprise Lab, visit their website at imperialenterpriselab.com.

What is the Hackspace?

We’re glad you asked! In the traditional sense, a Hackspace is a place you can join to work on projects you’re interested in, socialise with inventive minds, repair, improve or repurpose things, share knowledge and experience, and is a way to learn and teach new skills and work collaboratively on projects with others.

At Advanced Hackspace at Imperial College London, we are a community like no other. We bring together inventive minds from all backgrounds, disciplines and levels of expertise across the College network, to collaborate, experiment and innovate. All in the name of making amazing things happen! Hackspace is the only place on campus where you can access resources like electronics, wood and metal workshops, a bio lab as well as a wide variety of prototyping tools. All under one roof.

Why did Imperial set up a Hackspace?

A few years ago, we asked ourselves what would happen if Imperial gave an equal means of developing ideas to everyone – students, researchers, staff, and corporate partners, regardless of backgrounds, disciplines and levels of expertise? Could we foster a new community of inventors and inspire new ways of working together, in an environment where it was safe to experiment? Could we even inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs, create new companies, or explore new paths of research?

From humble origins (a room with a few 3D printers) in 2014 Advanced Hackspace was born, and since then has grown in scale and membership every year! In 2017 we moved into our site at the Invention Rooms, and we now have a wet lab, a wood and metal workshop, a digital manufacturing studio and electronics lab, and an ideation room and coworking space. Each year, our members produce amazing projects and research, and some have formed their own startup ventures. Hackspace is working to become an exemplar for the potential of university hackspaces, and is pioneering their inclusion as a fundamental vital resource in higher education.

What are “Hackers” and “Makers” in the context of Imperial Hackspace?

The emergence of Hackspaces and Makerspaces in the 2000’s have given birth to the titles “Hacker” and “Maker”. The two terms arose from spaces hosting similar communities of like-minded makers and thinkers. These groups believe that equipment and tools should be more readily available and accessible. Traditionally, Hackspaces were born from a collective group of programmers sharing a physical space. Those physical spaces were later developed to house more electronics and design for manufacture equipment to help with more multi-disciplinary, physical projects.

In the context of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, we share this philosophy and want to provide an equal opportunity and space for developing ideas to everyone – students, researchers, staff, and corporate partners, regardless of backgrounds, disciplines and levels of expertise. You’ll have access to our workshops and programmes to help you develop your ideas further. If you’d like to know more about how we set up the Hackspace, please read the FAQ “Why did Imperial set up a Hackspace?” to get a better understanding of why we exist.

In contrast Makerspaces have become more familiar to the public, especially following the work of MAKE magazine. They are commonly described as publicly accessible spaces to design and create (often in the context of creating spaces for children). This is true for the Dangoor Reachout Makerspace. It is a programme-driven space predominately for young people local to the White City area, but also a space for local community members, and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The Invention Rooms is a unique space which houses the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, Dangoor Reachout Makerspace, and the Interaction Zone (cafe and community centre) all side by side, catering to various hackers and makers. Thus, any person that is a member of the Hackspace and uses the Hackspace is a Hacker and any person that uses the Makerspace is a Maker. Fundamentally, both spaces have slightly different goals and outputs, however both spaces are inclusive and have helped democratise the use of workshop equipment and tools.

What kinds of ideas and projects is the Hackspace looking for?

Do you have an idea you’ve been thinking about but not sure where to get started? Have you been working on research that you are hoping to tangibilise and commercialise? Do you have a graduate project you’ve developed and looking to further develop your prototype? Are you looking for assistance in design for manufacture processes regarding your idea? If you answered yes to any of the following questions, we want to see you in the Hackspace!

What makes a good idea?!

The Imperial Hackspace mission is to inspire the next generation of hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs in a multidisciplinary environment. We provide open access to teaching, experts, and facilities with the aim of upskilling our members with the practical techniques and knowledge they need to kickstart their prototyping journey. Therefore we are committed to providing an inclusive culture of projects and ideas and to equip any student or staff at Imperial with the necessary tools to foster innovation and invention. There is never one way to attain a good idea, but that is why we are here to help. We want to show you the variety of ways in which your ideas can become tangibilised. We are more interested in the process of how to get you to that point vs. showing you what is a good idea vs. not.

Community & Membership

Who can join Hackspace?

We encourage any member of the Imperial College community to join Hackspace, inclusive of students, staff, researchers and academics.

I am an Imperial alumni, can I still access Hackspace?

Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer membership to Imperial alumni, but we are working on it! Stay tuned to developments by signing up to our newsletter.

How do I become a member?

Visit the “Become a member” page to complete the easy process. The first step is to come and visit us, see our facilities and meet some of our staff. We run new member safety inductions every week and places are booked online. Once you’ve attended an induction, take the online quiz. It’s really quick and easy, and the answers are all covered in the induction! We’ll then update your college card so you have full access to the Hackspace.

How much does it cost?

Nothing! Membership to Imperial Hackspace is completely free, as long as you are a current Imperial student, member of staff, faculty or researcher. The only payments you might need to make are towards the costs of the consumable materials that you use at the Hackspace, usually a low cost.

I need some specific technical support, what should I do?

We have hundreds of like-minded hackers and inventors on our Imperial Hackspace community slack channel. Once you’re a member you’ll have access to the group where there are numerous channels for specific equipment, subject areas, processes, and a #help section. We recommend asking questions on the relevant channels first, as this is often the fastest way to get support. If you require more 1:1 assistance for your specific research or project development, please email us at advancedhackspace@imperial.ac.uk. Be specific about the assistance you need and we will direct your questions to the right person who has the expertise in the subject area and field.

If you are an Imperial student, and want to know more about design, prototyping, and making you can sign up for Horizon classes here.

What is your policy on Intellectual Property (IP)?

Imperial College London IP policy applies to all College employees, and extends to associates and students. Full policy details can be found here.

If you are a student looking for more guidance and support on student IP, check out Enterprise Lab’s Student IP Guide.

What is a plan of work and why do you ask for one?

A plan of work is a mini risk assessment which gives us an understanding of what you are working on and how you plan to go about it. It also gives us an opportunity to make introductions, talk you through your project, and support you on your making journey in an informed and safe way. Plans of work ensure that everyone working in the Hackspace on wide ranging eclectic projects are risk assessed and safe.

Who needs to complete a plan of work?

Everyone who visits the Hackspace to work in a workshop needs a plan of work so that we can ensure everyone is working safely on an agreed scope of activities. You can complete your plan of work online through our Hackspace member portal.

Events & Hosting

How can I host an event with Hackspace?

Hackspace hosts, designs, and teaches many types of events and workshops. We can work closely with your department, society, or centre to develop an activity. If you’d like to chat about ways in which we can collaborate, please reach out to us at advancedhackspace@imperial.ac.uk.

What is a Hackathon?

A Hackathon is an event of any duration where people from various backgrounds come together to solve problems or further innovate on existing solutions. Some of the Hackathons that we run revolve around prototyping and building physical solutions, while some others may revolve around tangibilising research, disrupting the market, and or just simply developing an idea further. There are usually themes to Hackathons in which projects and ideas are confined to solve a particular problem.

How do I sign up to Hackspace events?

Our upcoming events and activities are posted on our events page. Event tiles link through to Eventbrite to register and get tickets.

General Info & Access

What is a Hackspace node?

A Hackspace node is a facility or department outside of the Hackspace that our members may use. The nodes are not operated by the Hackspace and so you’ll need to abide by the policies and Health and Safety rules set out by the department. Currently the only Hackspace node is the Imperial College Robotics Society in Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

Does the Hackspace have any facilities in South Kensington?

Unfortunately, there are no Hackspace facilities in South Kensington. However, the Imperial College Robotics Society (ICRS) in Electronic and Electrical Engineering is a Hackspace Node. The easiest way to gain access to ICRS is to become a member of the society via the Student Union.

What are Hackspace opening hours?

The Hackspace is open Monday to Friday. The workshops are open between 10am and 6pm. The upstairs Coworking Zone is open until evening. Occasionally our opening hours change, but we will always try to let you know in advance via Slack and our newsletter, and on our Opening Times webpage here.

Where is Hackspace located?

You will find Hackspace at:

The Invention Rooms,
Stadium House (Door A for workshops)
68 Wood Lane,
London W12 7TA

When do inductions take place?

Hackspace inductions take place every Wednesday afternoon at 5pm. We also run inductions for groups that we can modify to suit your requirements. Please email us to find out more and book.

I have a disability, can I still use the workshop?

We welcome all members of the Imperial College community. There is wheelchair access to both Door A and B and a lift to allow access to the first floor coworking space. Please do inform the Hackspace team if you need additional support, especially if you need assistance evacuating the building in an emergency (PEEP). If you have any specific questions about suitability then please send us an email at advancedhackspace@imperial.ac.uk. 

Do you have parking?

Access to bicycle parking is available through the Imperial College bike parking website (select Stadium House). Unfortunately, we do not have parking for cars, except for deliveries and visits by maintenance personnel.

What facilities do you have on site?

Hackspace houses an Electronics & Digital Manufacturing Workshop, Woodworking & Metalworking Workshop, a Bio Lab with adjoining Prep Room, an Ideation Room and coworking space. More details can be found here.

Can I store my project and materials in the workshop?

Hackspace has some shelf space allocated for project storage. We will give you a 84 litre “very useful box” for safe storage of your project. There is limited space, so we do not store projects for longer than one month, after which you will either need to collect your items, apply for further time or have your project removed. To apply for storage at the Hackspace please contact a Hackspace Fellow and complete a Project Storage Form. If your project will not fit in a 84 litre box please let us know and we will see if we can accommodate your project in another way.

My card does not work on the door, what do I need to do?

Make sure that you have completed the steps to become a new Hackspace member here. If it has been more than a week since you completed your induction tour and online quiz, please feel free to email us at advancedhackspace@imperial.ac.uk.

Can I get consumables delivered to Hackspace?

We have a large building and see many students during the week, so please speak to a member of staff before having anything delivered to the Hackspace. We’ll likely agree to the occasional large item by arrangement, but in general we’d like you to manage your own procurement as we cannot be liable for missing or damaged deliveries.

Do you provide training?

Hackspace provides a number of training courses throughout the course of the year, including Horizons classes and other workshops. The best way to stay informed of new offerings is to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media where we announce our new programmes and opportunities!

How do I access wifi as a guest?

Imperial staff are able to create guest accounts on specific occasions by visiting the link here.

Tools & Equipment

What tools and equipment are available to use in the Hackspace?

In the Yellow Room (Electronic and Digital Manufacturing Workshop) we have a suite of 3D printers, 2x laser cutters, various electronic testing equipment and electronic components, soldering irons, a vacuum former, line bender, and some small light industrial tools.

In the Purple Room (Bio Lab) we have incubators, a recirculating fume hood, a biological safety cabinet, electroporator, probe sonicator, refrigerated centrifuge, PCR machine, nanodrop spectrophotometer, microscope, a -80C freezer, and various other small items of equipment.

How do I buy materials?

Materials that we have in stock such as sheet materials and 3D printer filament, can be purchased using our Payment Kiosk which is located at the Plan of Work table in the Yellow Room. For all other materials we recommend purchasing them from our recommended suppliers where possible.

Is there a resource directory of suppliers?

For metal: Fays Metals (020 8993 8883)
For wood: Moss & Co (020 8748 8251 – www.mosstimber.co.uk)
For plastics: Denny Plastics (020 8964 9368 – www.dennyplastics.co.uk)
For laser cutter supplies: Hobarts (0333 900 8700 – www.hobarts.com)
For electronic components: RS Components or Cool Components (uk.rs-online.com or www.coolcomponents.co.uk)

Can I use my own tools or materials in the Hackspace?

We have many different tools and materials in the Hackspace, which we would encourage you to use. If you still would like to use your own please let a member of staff know beforehand so we can make sure you’re safe.

What 3D printers do you have?

Our suite includes 10x UP Mini, 2x Markforged, 2x Ultimaker 3, 2x Ultimaker 3 Extended, 1x Ultimaker S5, 1x Raise V2 & 1x Formlabs.

Your Hackspace journey starts here!

Become a member and take the first step towards getting your ideas out of your head (or research paper), and into the real world. From the latest prototyping equipment to the brightest academics and entrepreneurs from across Imperial College, and a supportive, inspiring environment – Advanced Hackspace is a vibrant community like no other and is the best place to realise your ideas and make them a success.

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