Once a center for Capitol Hill’s makers, Metrix Create:Space is closing its doors to the public. Though owner Matt Westervelt will be available for custom work and consulting, there will no longer be public and affordable access to digital fabrication tools like lasers, 3D printers and more on Broadway just down the stairs from the DeLuxe.
“Keeping a large footprint for a niche business on Capitol Hill is hard,” Westervelt said. “There is a lot of competition for people’s attention, and it’s never been an easy thing to do financially. Producing one-off items for people on demand is pretty demanding, especially when you don’t have a big budget.”
Metrix Create:Space opened in 2009 to provide tools, a space, and services for creative folks, according to Westervelt.
“I started the shop out so people could make things,” Westervelt said. “But more so to create a space for people to hang out and get to know each other face to face rather than being yet another internet service bureau.”
The opening came during a small ripple of maker culture coming into the mainstream and workspaces like Metrix emerging in areas like Broadway.
Much has changed in the 3D printing industry since Metrix opened. Westervelt said that, ten years ago, it cost about $20,000 to buy a machine that you could buy for $200 today.
“The 3D printing industry back then was only big money players, and we got to be a part of the 3D printer revolution in its infancy,” Westervelt said. “Democratization and decentralization of the means of production… It’s a really interesting time to be alive.”
Westervelt said he’s proud of Metrix’s run on Broadway. He was able to keep his crazy idea going for nine years. He can’t pick a favorite creation, but he said that his favorite part about the shop was meeting people every day who had decided they were going to “make something that was only in their head into a real thing,” and helping them achieve that vision.
“The whole thing was really inspiring, and I’m sad to see it go,” Westervelt said. “It’s been a big part of my life. I hope it’s remembered fondly.”