Makers in the Mission

In Kristi’s elective tinkering class, students are makers: they take random materials and make light-up bracelets, wire sculptures, and puppets, among other creations. One afternoon last spring, they got a glimpse of the making philosophy in action when the class took a field trip to Other Machine Company in the heart of the Mission. The company is located in a former pipe organ factory, and employees are proud of their building’s history: they’ve maintained many of its original features, including weathered, honey-colored wooden floors and rows of organ pipes in assorted sizes.

Other Machine Company makes the Othermill, a 3D mill, or cutter — one of which Kristi recently ordered for her classroom. The mill, which can etch circuit boards and make molds and other 3D objects, is light and affordable, and is intended for use by schools and individuals. Popular Mechanics included the company in its article, “25 Makers who are Remaking the American Dream,” and pointed out, “Like desktop 3D printer firms, Other Machine Co. is converting an industrial technology into a tool for everyone.”


Synergy students got a tour of the small, bustling company, learned about the various steps of the manufacturing process, and met the company’s founder, Danielle Applestone. The tour ended with a demonstration of the Othermill. Parents and Synergy staff who tagged along on the tour were as fascinated as the students as they gathered around a broad table to watch the mill, which is small, compact, and quiet, etch a wafer-thin piece of circuit board. “That’s so cool,” one student told another. “Now we have our own mill so we can do that at school!”

by Connie Matthiessen, May 2015

Be sure to check out this article to learn more about Kristi’s background in journalism and her family roots in making and tinkering

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