Choosing and using digital fabrication, shop, and craft Maker tools
Choosing the proper tools and materials to execute a maker's goals is extremely important, and the "right choice" will vary from one project to the next. Being able to determine which tools and materials are appropriate for any given application is as important to the process of creation as the ability to use them. Typically, the first decision is what materials to use, and the second is what tools work best with the chosen materials.
The printable shop charts available for download below illustrate and explain many common hand fabrication tools and materials.
Digital-fabrication Software and Technology Resources
Digital fabrication tools have a definite "wow" factor and are a great way to get people into a Makerspace. A major benefit of these tools is safety for the user. The tool are controlled digitally rather than manually, so Makers can use these devices to create complex parts with minmal physical interaction. 3D printers are very common in Makerspaces and there is lots of good 3D modeling software available. Vinyl/Craft Cutters are good alternatives or entries to the expense and complexity of Laser Cutters, and 2D modeling software is used for both these tools.
Along with digital fabrication tools there are many other technologies commonly used in Maker spaces. Electronics can be used to add control, motion, sound, and light to any project. Physical computing involves the use of computer-based logic along with electronic inputs (sensors, switches) and outputs (motors, lights, sound). Computer-based photo and video tools are great for creating digital projects or sharing physical ones. Sewing and textiles are increasingly popular with a variety of new machines and materials.
From wood, stone, and iron to semiconductors and nanoparticles, materials determine what can be designed and made. While maker activities may use sophisticated electronics parts, etc., many of the best projects use cardboard, paper, and recyclables.