The Coast News Group
Dan Hendricks
Dan Hendricks is the founder of the Open Source Maker Labs in Vista, a co-working space for research and development. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Open Source Maker Lab offers solutions for Vista businesses

VISTA — Startups to large-scale businesses are using the Open Source Maker Labs to quickly solve problems and develop solutions to help scale operations.

The lab, founded by Dan Hendricks in 2014, is also on the City of Vista’s radar to help with its recently updated Vista Economic Development Strategy and COVID-19 recovery plans.

In fact, Henricks built the plexiglass barriers to provide safety buffers to help reopen Vista City Hall, according to Kevin Ham, the city’s economic development director.

Hendricks’ lab also provides expertise in training to help guide new members for prototyping, along with software and hardware solutions to accelerate designs and prototypes for production.

“How I describe it, it’s a co-working space for research and development,” Hendricks said. “If you are a startup company or established company, and you need to do some R&D (research and development), the amount of capital to do that doesn’t make sense to do that on your own.”

Hendricks said the shared resources make it cheaper for businesses to put their designs to the test. OSML, Hendricks said, has a wide range of members and customers from breweries to Misadventure Vodka to Flux Power, which produces lithium-ion batteries, to the aerospace industry.

Another start-up using the lab’s capabilities is also including one prototyping device to monitor people with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Hendricks added.

“We try to cover the whole spectrum of anything you’d need to make or develop,” he explained. “So, it ranges from software, electronic engineering, metalworking, woodworking, rapid prototyping with 3-D printing and laser cutting. And good experience on how to bring that all together.”

As for the City of Vista, Ham said OSML is a valuable resource and will help with the VEDS, a five-year plan looking at 12 key areas and industries to recruit. He compared the lab to MacGyver “as I see Dan and his team possessing that know how to put together a solution.”

Ham said if companies don’t have the expertise and need to look outward, the OSML team has been a solid tool for those looking to find solutions.

Ham said the city has its own resources and abilities to market support its economic and business goals. He said within the VEDS is driving is highlighting the city as a great place to live and work.

The VEDS, Ham said, has incorporated the business changes since the pandemic. For example, he said office space may have been a priority, but now the city won’t invest as much energy in it.

The biopharmaceutical industry and medical devices have led to 500 jobs but also shown how they’ve grown during the pandemic and may do so after emergency orders are lifted.

“I think the economic strategy is the city looking into the future five years and how we can put into place programs, policies and actions that help support our local businesses and residential