Proto BuildBar: For the nerd in all of us

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Chris Wire has an issue with hackerspaces.

“They are like cliques,” he said. “Joe knows Steve knows Sally.”

With Proto BuildBar, Wire and his staff hope to remove the some of the barriers that makes science and technology so damn intimidating in many minds.

The space is not exactly easy to visualize.

“It is a crazy concept. It may be hard for people to get their heads around it,” Wire said. “It is as much of an experiment as the experiments people are doing.”

The stylized, one-of-its-kind bar/coffee shop/3D printing lab and electronic maker space at 534 E. First St. near Fifth Third Field is designed to be welcoming to everyone from hipsters to seniors to kids to scientists. You can even grab a little nosh. Proto's pastries, wraps and such are prepared by Chef Jenn Disanto of Fresco in Kettering.

“We want it to feel cool. We want it to be beautiful,” Wire said. “It is about having a good time making something.”

The ‘something’

Thanks to technology that was once crazy expensive, customers can turn nearly any image (flip-flops, themselves, frogs) into a 3 dimensional object they can touch, display and, in some cases, actually use.

The printers build plastic objects layer by layer from computer files.

Most things are $20, $40 or $60 depending on size and print time. Pricing can be customized for oversized and advance projects.

Proto’s eight maker benches can be rented for $25 an hour each and come with a tool box containing gauges, a 700 degree soldering iron and other tools.

Some customers jump right in a tackle their own project or one of Proto’s specially curated electronic gadget kits that cost roughly $10 to $100. They include cell phone chargers to video games, sound organs, FM radios and watches.

Others need help from Proto’s staff getting started and building confidence. Wire customers have been surprised at what they can make.

“This stuff is not hard. It is not relegated to engineers or nerds,” he said. “It is really a liberating and empowering thing when you say I can make something.”

Proto’s location is also an example of “making something.”

“It is not in a vanilla stripe mall,” Wire said. “It has a personality.”

Proto is housed in the site of a former ballet studio next to Wire’s Real Art Design Group.

He got a little static when he painted over the ballet dancers on the building.

Proto’s design is part of the hack from the bar fashioned from a ton of steel tubes and designed to look like a bridge overpass to the old Rike’s clothing rack plucked from Sandy Mendelson’s special stash.


Proto BuildBar, 532 E. First St., downtown Dayton

Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Phone: (937) 222-6253



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