Welcome to the New Lemnos Machine Shop

by Shivani Torres

I’m excited to announce the re-opening of the Lemnos Machine Shop!

Upgrading our facilities has been a passion project of mine since joining the team in July. It has allowed me to combine my backgrounds in teaching design principles at Stanford and in managing world-class product realization facilities, as well as my love of making beautiful, physical products. Creation is integral to Lemnos, and the shop is the place where we exercise our creative energy, iterate quickly, and turn ideas into reality. The space is designed to maximize opportunities for product AND people realization.

We expect any user to experience equal parts failure, learning, success, and self-discovery. Hardware is tricky. Having a great space to work out the kinks is a game-changer!

The Nuts and Bolts

At Lemnos, we make all sorts of stuff, from high-tech industrial farming robots to artwork for Burning Man to Christmas presents for grandma to autonomous aircraft systems. We have a culture that celebrates making through the broadest lens, and our facilities aim to embrace that.

Our shop is a rapid, early-stage, industrial prototyping lab. Our tooling explores a variety of processes: electronics design, machining, and additive manufacturing. We have awesome equipment! In addition to standard power and hand tools, we have a Tormach P1100 CNC, a Trotec Speedy 300 CO2 Laser, a Form Labs SLA Printer, LulzBot Taz 5 and 6 FDM Printers, an Inventables XCarve 1000mm CNC Router, a Craftsman Drill Press, and even a Laguna 18CX Wood/Metal Bandsaw on the way. And we plan to add welding in the near future!

“The machine shop at Lemnos was a great asset to Elroy Air as we prototyped our early systems. We iterated these designs a lot, and we often left 3D prints going overnight so we could pick up where we left off in the morning. Having these tools in-house saved us a bunch of trips to Techshop and we didn’t need to send as many parts out for manufacture. So when speed mattered (and it usually does!), we could knock out a part quickly in the shop and keep moving,” says Dave Merill, CEO Elroy Air.

An Extension of Us

Everything we do at Lemnos is a hand-on experience. If shops reflect their owners, then rebuilding our shop was one never-ending journey of Learning by Doing. I experienced my fair share of decision-making under uncertainty, self-doubt, budget management, delayed timelines, miscommunication, oversights, mistakes, realizations, and most importantly, perseverance.

I started out my journey very much like many of our CEOs. On my second day, I was effectively handed the keys to the kingdom (a shiny credit card) and sent on my way. It was not unlike receiving that check in the bank from a recent round of financing and thinking to yourself, “Great! Now what…”

So what do you do?

  • You refer back to the key problem you’re solving – Build a fluid and flexible workspace that supports all the making of past, present, and future of Lemnos companies.
  • You aim to meet the latent need of your customers and maintain it as your North Star – A focused toolset that enables our entrepreneurs to prototype effectively.
  • To keep yourself sane, you establish some must-have and nice-to-have criteria – If I do nothing else, I must get the Trotec up and running for good.

And like many of you, I also learned some incredibly important lessons:

  • People will think you are a little crazy.
  • Stick to your vision but be open-minded.
  • Being wrong is inevitable, but having the confidence to own up to it and the wherewithal to do something about it, is what will define you.
  • Leverage the experts and your network.
  • Time is money, so work smart.
  • If you have a 3D printing aficionado in your midst, it behooves you to ask their advice on how to upgrade the machines. If you can get a hold of THE laser nerd for the entirety of the Bay Area, probably should go ahead a call them up instead of spending hours fumbling around with your machine.
  • Leave yourself room for flexibility.
  • No matter how much you plan for something, oversight is also inevitable.
  • A crucial part for your build may be on backorder, and it is always a great idea to have another supplier to call, or backup plans B through Z on speed dial.

However, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you never stop learning and adapting. Things will come out of left field and the best thing you can do is make the best of your situation. It’s a self-guided, self-sufficient journey. Meaning, at the end of the day, the truth is that you have to synthesize multiple sources of feedback and make a decision on limited information. The final decision is entirely up to you.

Ultimately, at Lemnos, we’re not training entrepreneurs to be industrial designers, electricians, machinists, or welders. We’re training them to be innovators, creators, and self-directed makers of change, to make many decisions under uncertainty, and to accept failure as part of process on the route to success.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the Forge! We hope to run some process-focused classes for the community out of our new shop in the new year.