Founded in 2009, by Dr. Evan Malone, NextFab’s original home opened for business in January of 2010. Located at and developed with the support of the University City Science Center (UCSC), we brought together a staff of artists, engineers, and designers to serve Philadelphia innovators using a new business model - combining technical consulting and custom fabrication, technical training, membership-based access to a 4000 sq. ft. prototyping facility, and community outreach, including STEM/STEAM educational engagement for youth and families in partnership with the Breadboard program of the UCSC.
By late 2012, after three great years, NextFab had outgrown its birthplace. To empower our members and clients with more, bigger, and better tools and the space to take on more challenging and larger projects, we relocated our main operations to a 21,000 sq. ft. building on Philadelphia’s “builder’s row” - a building materials distribution and light industrial section of southwest Center City, Philadelphia.
We have grown from eight to more than 20 full time staff members covering an enormous range of engineering, design, arts, financial, and management skills - all available to serve our members and clients. Our relocation has pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, and we are proud to be a part of the renaissance of our new neighborhood, which is booming with residential construction, new restaurants, and new services.
Our technical capability has expanded to include full-scale CNC machining and turning, 5-axis abrasive water-jet cutting, multiple arc and torch welding processes, wood milling equipment, industrial sewing, pick-and-place electronics assembly, and much more!
We’ve extended our services to include residency- a specialized membership for hardware technology startups, with private offices, 24 hour access, and a host of technical, business, legal, and financial services and opportunities.
Our educational services have grown to encompass not just classes on safe use of a huge array of hardware and software tools, but the development of mastery and career-building credentials via long-format technical courses, some of which culminate in certification examinations offered by nationally or globally recognized organizations. More than 1500 people a year receive training at NextFab, and we’ve taught nearly 5000 in our short history.
We are extending our ability to serve the hardware technology and manufacturing industry through new partnerships, including the federally funded Advanced Manufacturing Accelerator, through which NextFab provides local small manufacturers with in-depth understanding and first-hand experience with disruptive technologies like Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing.
NextFab did not leave behind its original home, however. Our passion for education and outreach led the Breadboard / NextFab team to co-found and sponsor the award winning Department of Making + Doing (DM+D), which dedicates NextFab’s original UCSC facility and much of its original equipment to the sole purpose of educating and engaging youth and families. DM+D is now supercharged with the addition of non-profit partners The Hacktory, and Public Workshop who are empowering tomorrow’s innovators with the chance to design and make using high-tech tools today.
We are proud of our history of helping Philadelphia innovators, and we look forward to building an even brighter future with you.
NextFab was founded by Dr. Evan Malone in order to help counteract the extensive offshore outsourcing of US manufacturing and decline of manufacturing education and knowledge-base during the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Dr. Malone aspires to reinvigorate American manufacturing by putting the latest computer-aided design and advanced manufacturing technologies in the hands of innovative individuals and organizations, with the training, support, and friendly expert consultants necessary to help turn ideas into products, and products into businesses.
This product development and entrepreneurship focus informs the range of tools and services that we provide. We know first-hand that traditional prototyping and product development can be very intimidating and expensive, so we aspire to be a one-stop shop, where anyone- regardless of background - can make any physical thing, with any material, using next generation digital design to leverage their own creativity, automated fabrication tools to reduce cost, and a community of collaborators to overcome challenges that cannot be surmounted alone.
We offer both membership access and service bureau / contract service work because every individual project has its own constraints of schedule, budget, and performance so we feel this arrangement allows you to find the optimal approach each time. Membership allows you to do it yourself when you want to learn how and have the time or when no one could achieve what you are capable of doing. Contract services allow you to hire us when you need assistance or when you cannot spare the time to do the work yourself. Our contract service personnel span an enormous range of disciplines and experience, including engineering, arts, business, and science. We specialize in synthesis, fusion, and interdisciplinary integration, and treat every project as an exciting challenge, a chance to serve you personally, and a step toward the betterment of the world.
Despite having a manufacturing focus, we are proud to say that there is no typical NextFab member – what binds our community together is an enjoyment of problem solving and a desire to shape the physical world to match a vision. Thus, there is an exciting and vibrant diversity of perspectives, skills, and backgrounds in our community. There are no prerequisites for membership and diversity of all types is sought out. From the start, we have partnered with the Breadboard program of UCSC, and many other arts and educational organizations including, Philadelphia Futures, The Enterprise Center, CfEVA, The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, The Franklin Institute, Traction Company, for the purpose of helping youth, families, and artists learn about and use advanced digital design and manufacturing technology. We view this not as charity, but as part of NextFab’s mission of building awareness and providing access - an investment in the creative capacity of our organization and the community we serve. Youth, artists, and others outside of the traditional design, engineering, and manufacturing fields naturally challenge entrenched perspectives, push technology to its limits, and identify new possibilities for creative expression and innovation.
Together, we stay challenged, supported, making, and growing – so that together, we can build a better future.