Thursday, December 1, 2011

AssentWorks: The first 30 days

As we approach the end of the first 30 days of AssentWorks and look toward years of growing new opportunities in Manitoba, we thought we’d give everyone an update of the progress we have made over such a short time.

Building to the launch
Starting back in June, volunteers started working full steam ahead on all aspects of AssentWorks. From creating the draft business plans, web site, approaching founding sponsors to helping put up walls and haul in equipment, it was a non-stop trek to get things ready.

Seven days before the launch date, a handful of folks worked literally 24x7 to get the space ready for the Grand Opening. Equipment was arriving daily all week long, requiring folks to install, configure and test machines while others were trouble shooting layout issues, HVAC challenges and constant cleaning in an effort to reduce the amount of dust from the facility build process.

My favorite surprise was at 9:30pm on the evening before the Grand Opening, Princess Auto was able to get us our first large equipment donation. In an extremely brief discussion, we all haggled whether or not we were going to have time to get everything picked up and in-place before the morning. By 11pm we were back in the space putting together some amazing equipment from Princess Auto, including their new professional line of tools, Pro Point, which are some of the most solid tools I have ever seen! By 2am most folks had just about done all that could be dealt with, yet Colin Stanners and some of the other night owls continued on working all night on our networking and access control systems.

Our big day
Barely a handful of hours after we had left the space, we were back and prepping for the opening. The place was spotless, with our self-guided tour setup, displays of the different uses and products each machine could produce spread out across the different facility tour stops. We were ready for anyone who would come, but at 9:30am, just half an hour before we started, it was suddenly so quiet after weeks of flurried activity, we wondered if anyone would come.

Then just as soon as the activity had come to a standstill, people started to arrive and the Grand Opening was underway.  The morning events included our big sponsor and media launch, with folks from all over the province ready to hear about our mission and see the beginnings of our beta facility.  We had great representation from all walks of the economic community in Manitoba. From government, education and large Manitoban industry to folks from in other provinces who came to see what exactly was going on in downtown Winnipeg.

Over seventy attendees listened to our morning launch discussion where we highlighted the goals of AssentWorks and the mission of our Beta Facility. We took a moment to recognize our amazing founding sponsors, Princess Auto, The Eurkea Project and Seccuris, as well as the thirty plus companies and fifty plus individuals who made the Grand Opening possible. The morning event wrapped up with CBC conducting an interview with several folks involved with the space, from members and potential members to the volunteers and some of the directors. Once the filming wrapped up a break was taken to rest and reset before the afternoon open house.

The first of many open houses
The afternoon of the Grand Opening was dedicated to an open house for everyone to come see the facility and meet the people behind the building of the facility. From 4 till 10pm we hosted over 200 folks, signed up several new members and met a lot of great people.

We received a lot of positive feedback on a number of fronts, but one of our favorite compliments was the self-guided tour. The nine-stop tour included write-ups, examples and demonstrations of our equipment and capabilities which allowed anyone to come off the street and get a good perspective on not only the physical space, but the intent behind the relationships we are trying to build in our local communities.

The day ended as a huge success and for the volunteers who made it possible, a great start to such an incredible journey.

The first few weeks: Growing our Community
The week after the Grand Opening was filled with dozens of requests for tours and talks. From a volunteer perspective we spent some time to step back and ask ourselves if our priorities are in the right areas. Pacing of our efforts over the next several weeks; realizing that changing our priorities from making an aesthetically pleasing grand opening to starting a real, functional and supportive community are two very different things.

At the weekly Tuesday night community meeting, which was our first official meeting, we discussed what the next thirty days of activities would look like, from getting the machines active and the facility properly functioning to approaching new sponsors and members in order to meet our startup goals. It became obvious pretty quickly we would need to further expand the breadth and depth to which volunteers were involved in order to really get things moving. Everyone was and is up to the challenge.

The next few months: Building for Manitoban success
As our great team of volunteers takes the reigns of AssentWorks and starts to drive out our development activities over the next few months, you’ll see focuses on several areas.

One critical activity that will continue on a regular basis is the introduction of different communities to the AssentWorks Beta facility. From entrepreneurial groups and educational institutions to potential sponsors and government supporters, we’ll be coordinating open houses and special tours on a regular basis to get the word out.

Another focus we will grow is our vocalization of our mandate and mission across the Manitoban and Canadian landscape. We are an industry driven non-profit organization built to grow new entrepreneurial opportunities in Manitoba. In order to achieve our goals around entrepreneurial growth, new business development and the establishment of new business ideas in Manitoba, we are committed to work with the wider community of Manitoba IDEA enablers, such as the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Winnipeg, Canadian Manufactures & Exporters, the Industrial Technology Center, Red River Community College, our provincial universities and numerous other organizations to understand how AssentWorks can best assist Manitobans and create real growth for us all.

Last but not least will be the continued development of new capabilities and education opportunities available at AssentWorks. Early in the new year we will be offering classes on how to use our different machinery and create specific projects at the space, including hosting business and creative competitions at the space.

If you’re interested in hearing more about AssentWorks or would like to become involved, check out our website at or come out and attend a community meeting on Tuesday nights at 7pm on the 3rd floor of 125 Adelaide St.

Again, a HUGE thanks to everyone who has supported us so far, looking forward to all the good things to come!

Media & Recognition 

News Outlets

Web & Blogs

Monday, September 19, 2011

How will rapid prototyping & 3D Printing change your innovation path?

Often when I try to explain the future outcomes of rapid prototyping and 3D printing to people, I tend to revert to my geeky youth. "Do you remember the Replicator from Star Trek? It will be kinda like that, but probably not that for some time." Those who have seen Star Trek then nod their heads, those who have not, shake them.
The challenge with additive manufacturing technologies and what they could become in the future is that the actual workflows and uses for these technologies are still poorly understood. When you look at the Replicator example, the outcome, its success, is building a cup of Earl Grey on-demand. Often, people think of 3D printers of today in the same manner, they print objects that we can test, use or sell. It's just that they do all three poorly today, so we should focus on better technology to get the machines to that level. The reality is that the outcomes that a rapid prototype and a 3D printer can deliver you today are much more diverse. It is about the experience, the workflow and the intellectual property gained.

By building a rough 3D printed model, using the simplest of technologies available, you can gain a lot of knowledge about a product or particular part. How will it fit, how will it be handled, how will it be shipped, how does it change production or quality assurance testing, how does it break, how do we service it? By using a rapid prototype, the lurking costs and challenges of entire implementation, manufacturing process and user workflow can be reviewed and analyzed.

When we use a rapid prototype to look at workflow, you may not even need to have something function to provide value to the process. The folks at Bright Innovation used a non-functioning prototype of a wearable computer system to understand what nurses felt comfortable with having an assistant system do. This non-functioning prototype was nothing more than a person playing the role of the wearable computer, but even this basic prototype helped build perspective of what will be critical to the next steps of the prototyping process and set context for overall outcomes the new solution much achieve.
It is from these lessons that true solution architecture can be created and intellectual property can be retained in an organization. Successful ideas, solutions and technologies inherently enable the user, which sounds overly simplistic. The reality is that value comes from successfully understanding of the context of the idea to the consumer and their particular objectives within an environment or transaction. This context and execution is not so simple and is the reason for every iPad there are several dozen multimillion dollar tablet failures. 

Rapid prototyping allows users and organizations to gain experience with an idea and implementations quickly, understand the challenges of manufacturing and retain reference knowledge about how to solve problems in a economic and scalable manner. 3D printing and the other complimentary additive manufacturing technologies that exist offer much to the innovating mind. Understanding how you and your business can leverage this will be key to manufacturing competitiveness in the next decade.

At AssentWorks, we give organizations access to 3D printers and other rapid prototyping technologies so they can innovate, enhance their competitive edge and bring Manitoba to the forefront of manufacturing in the 21st century. Please come see what we have to offer as we build out our Beta location in downtown Winnipeg. 

Also, be sure to check out the presentation that CME-MEC is putting on in October 14th regarding 3D printing and Rapid Prototyping. It looks like it will be a great event!

October 14, 2011

Want to find out more about 3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping? Join an industry veteran and three local users share their experiences and perspectives.

A sleek, but deceptively simple, disruptive technology is evening out the playing field in which companies large and small can compete. Commonly known as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing is used within the design, engineering, and manufacturing fields and with all types and sizes of products. The advantages that these technologies offer are numerous and well documented, reduced development time, reduced development costs, much faster time-to-market overall, and greater design freedom.

Full Details & Speaker Information

Who should attend: Designers, Engineers, Product Developers, Architects, Production and Operations Managers, R&D, Executives and Technology Integrators.

For more information, please contact Betty Dearth at the ITC office at (204) 480-0336 / or Tammy Oakes at CME at (204) 949-1454.

Friday, September 9, 2011

24 days till launch and we want your support!

When we started to work on the concept of AssentWorks, it became clear there were a number of "build it and they will come" issues. So we decided to start small, find a community, tell our story and grow together as we build business in Manitoba. 

With the support of key founding sponsors (The Eureka Project & The Eureka Project) and amazing volunteers (see below) we have been able to raise the first $50,000 for start up costs, complete basic planning in six months and turn several hundred of hours of donated time into a beta facility three months. 

Yet, this is just the begining of our journey! 

We need an additional sponsors to let this initiative flourish and we'd love to see them at our side on opening day. Our fully operational phase one goals require funding of an additional $175,000.00 to purchase our entire rough prototyping equipment suite, complete basic facility upgrades such as HVAC and expand the services we can provide the community. 

Please inform businesses and organizations that you know who are committed to real growth in the Manitoban community that we want their involvement in this initiative. From volunteer time, advisory services for our community, to financial support every step is a step in the right direction. This is something that can't be done by one person or group, we need the support of businesses like the one your at right now to make Manitoba a great place to prosper!

See you at the Grand Opening Event on October 27th!

Thanks to our supporters!
A big thanks to the organizations that have pitched in, provided support and some great advisement regarding the development activities this month, including: Aquaventronics, Circle Design Incorporated, Duxton Windows, Economic Development Winnipeg / YES! Winnipeg, The Eureka Project, Adrian Stoness, Evan Andrew, Colin Stanners, Kevin Guenther, Kyle Lenton, Kerry Stevenson (Editor of Fabbaloo)Seccuris, SkullSpace and Technology Revolution.(Sorry to the folks I missed!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our name and our shiny new logo

Our name and our shiny new logo 

 Many folks have asked why the name? Did you spell a word wrong? Well, here it is:

The core meaning of the word "Assent" is the expression of approval or agreement. In the technology world, as a new idea starts to take off, it rides up the adoption curve towards acceptance as the idea gains assent from a larger and larger audience who are buying-in to the concept or buying the literal product. Eventually it will ascend the curve to industry acceptance and a successful idea has come to full fruition.

Thanks to the generous, insightful and creative geniuses at Circle Design Inc, we have an amazing new logo that fits our personality to a tee. AssentWorks is where ideas are enabled, where buy-in starts as a first, rough prototype of the idea is established, allowing the journey along the curve to start.

Sign-up for an invitation to the Grand Opening Open House!

Our grand opening is just around the corner in October and after the first wave of new member in-takes we're going to host an open house. Come down, tour the space, meet some of the founding sponsors and members and see some really cool projects and business products that our members have already built right here in Manitoba!

Space is limited!
Register for the Grand Opening Event by clicking here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

AssentWorks – Making a MakerSpace

What exactly is AssentWorks?

AssentWorks is a non-profit prototyping facilitity founded to provide Manitoba a competitive business capability, increasing innovation across the province along with our industry partners.

AssentWorks provides an accessible environment in terms of people, equipment and space that supports the creative process as well as personal and business growth. In our space you’ll find people into rapid prototyping and 3D printing, embedded system design, woodworking, metalworking and creative disciplines. Our combined passions create numerous opportunities for collaborative projects to be developed, mentorship and skills transfer to occur and new ideas to be fostered into successful ventures, be it in business or the community.


Come help build your community of makers, inventors and creative minds!

Our grand opening is coming fast and we need to get AssentWorks built, prepped and populated with cool equipment before that day arrives. In order to get this achieved, we need the help of the community and most importantly, you!

As of Aug 30th, we're going to be doing build nights on Tuesdays and Thursday at the space from 5pm till 10pm and Saturdays 10am - 5pm (or later) every week through September. 

Over the next few weeks, we have several dozen activities that need to be completed including:
Space Renovations:
  • Electrical, HVAC, Insulation Inspections
  • Security camera / Alarm system upgrades
  • Lighting & Life Safety upgrades

Equipment Setup:
  • Price Checking & Purchasing Assistance
  • CNC / Router / Laser Cutter / 3D Printer Setups
  • Wood / Metal / Electrical Equipment built, install and test
Membership & Sponsorship Assistance:
  • Input for membership policies & contracts
  • Sponsorship Contact
Marketing / Design:
  • Social Media Updates
  • Site content
  • Signage for space

Thanks to our supporters!
A big thanks to the organizations that have pitched in, provided support and some great advisement regarding the development activities this month, including: Aquaventronics, Circle Design Incorporated, Duxton Windows, Economic Development Winnipeg / YES! Winnipeg, The Eureka Project, John Vukelic, Mike Fagundes, Kyle Lenton, Kerry Stevenson (Editor of Fabbaloo)Seccuris, SkullSpace and Technology Revolution.(Sorry to the folks I missed!)

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    75 Days until the Grand Opening!

    The clock is ticking down until the big day and it is time for you to get involved!

    What exactly is AssentWorks?
    AssentWorks is a community driven, non-profit prototyping facility aimed at Manitoban industry. We're focused on bringing, growing and extending opportunity in Manitoba by creating access to skill and knowledge in fabrication, industrial design and prototyping along with our industry partners and peers.

    We need you to help build this community
    We're having our first community planning session in August and we want you to come down and see what we're going to build together! We'll be touring the space, outlining the current activities and detailing the outstanding items we need to make our launch a success.

    To get the specifics on dates and locations please sign-up on the community mailing list.

    Watch the AssentWorks Concept and Status Update Video
    Our "draft" membership and sponsorship video has been released which will be followed up with a set of formal videos just before the grand opening. The intent of this first video is to communicate the background and motivation of why we started this initiative. We released video as non-public, because we felt it is representative of what an audience targeted video should look like. As with many things that are volunteer based, time has kept on moving forward and we'd rather release the video as a rapid prototype itself then wait another few weeks. 

    Fill out the AssentWorks Usage Questionnaire
    The AssentWorks Usage Questionnaire is designed to help us understand more about what potential members are looking for the most in a Prototyping and Industrial Design shop. Please fill this out and pass it along to other potential members. You'll be seeing this communicated through our partners in the following few weeks.

    What has been going on this month?
    Space renovations continue as the basic walls and electrical have been checked over. The next phase of electrical and HVAC upgrades will be starting in the next two weeks. Please pop an us an email if you'd like to come volunteer with renovations. We have lots of different tasks to do in order to get the place in shape.

    Thanks to our supporters!
    A big thanks to the organizations that have pitched in, provided support and some great advisement regarding the development activities this month, including: Aquaventronics, Circle Design Incorporated, Economic Development Winnipeg / YES! Winnipeg, John Vukelic, Kerry Stevenson (Editor of Fabbaloo)Seccuris, SkullSpace and Technology Revolution.(Sorry to the folks I missed!)

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    90 Days until the Grand Opening!

    Lots of developments at AssenWorks this month and things are just getting started!

    Framing of the space is almost complete, with electrical starting within the next week. The first two pieces of specialty equipment, the CNC Router and small 3D printer have been specified and will be ordered in the next week. The rest of initial equipment orders have been drawn out and are awaiting for confirmation via the questionnaire prior to order next month.

    We will be releasing a preliminary membership and sponsorship video on the website in the upcoming week, which will detail the features of membership and the benefits of sponsorship. This will be followed by our AssentWorks Usage Questionnaire which is designed to help us understand more about what potential members are looking for the most in a Prototyping and Industrial Design shop. The questionnaire will be available via the web site and will also be distributed by our supporting and advising partner organizations.

    Many thanks to the awesome folks and great neighbors at SkullSpace, Winnipeg's first, only and best HackerSpace. The assistance on renovations and build out has been greatly appreciated. For those who don't know what SkullSpace is, check out or come out to a regular meeting every Tuesday at 6pm @ 125 Adelaide or a Hackathon on the third Saturday of every month.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    What is the Current Status of AssentWorks?
    • We're currently socializing the concept and developing the business plan (See below)
    • Currently our Beta facility is under construction @ 125 Adelaide, teamed up with  
    • Our goal is to open our doors to the general public in Fall of 2011  
    • Are you interested in the concept? Please join our mailing list for updates and news.
    • Want to get involved? Please contact Michael Legary, AssentWorks Chair for more information.
    Current Actions (2011):
    • Concept socialization  : February – June
    • Board of Directors formation  : June - July
    • Completion of business plan   : July - August
    • Selection of Phase 1 activities  : August - September
    • Execution of Phase 1  : September              
    • Operating Target  : Winter 2011/12