Stephen Eaton passionate about making his mark in Bunbury

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Stephen Eaton is passionate about growing the maker community in Bunbury and the South West.
Camera IconStephen Eaton is passionate about growing the maker community in Bunbury and the South West. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

For as long as he can remember, Stephen Eaton has been pulling things apart so he can put them back together again.

The Bunbury father, affectionately known at home as “the professor”, said he has always just been interested in what made things work.

“It started off before I was a teenager,” he said.

“I had a Lego and meccano set when I was younger and if I hadn’t gotten an apprenticeship with SECWA at the old power station, I would have gone on to do electronic engineering.

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“What drives me is not money or anything like that, it’s problem solving and thinking through problems – I think a lot of us in the group are just like that.”

Stephen said he was excited by increasing capability to follow the creative manufacturing process from start to finish at home.

He personally built two of his three 3D printers as well as some of his own drones, which included 3D-printed parts.

“3D printing, laser cutters and all that have led to the ability to manufacture things on a small scale to individuals,” he said.

“Resources are so easily out there in terms of open-source software and the community at large because the internet has brought everyone together.

“From the concept where you draw something up in a 3D CAD or design package to then actually prototype it and see what you might need to change and then take it further if you wanted.”

Stephen’s passion for tinkering and learning led the Dardanup Shire Council IT guru to form South West Makers with two other like-minded members several years ago. He said the group had grown and changed since its inception but a deliberate decision had been made not to formalise it.

“We all just have similar interests and come together once a month to chew the fat and show each other things,” he said.

“That might change if we had our own makers’ space though.”

The group meets on the second Saturday of every month at the Eaton Community Library and are always very welcoming of new faces. Stephen said the group continued to look for a place to call its own.

“It would work really well if we could share it with an art group — it would be a space where people could just come together to work on their own projects or even collaborate,” he said,

“The challenges around that include how it would be funded, how do you keep interest and and how would it survive.

“Ideally, we’d have a secure space that is available to members after hours, but open to the public in the day. It’s not just about making, it’s about having fun.”

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