Barclays' 'MakerSpaces' offer 3D printing to local businesses

School visits, training sessions and other events let the wider community use the facilities, too.

The worlds of banking and technology intersect at many points, but you'd hardly consider 3D printing a shared interest. In Barclays' "MakerSpaces," though, it's common ground. Equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, tools and technicians, Barclays has begun setting up these maker-friendly zones in vacant branch and office spaces. The bank is making their facilities available to local businesses (customers and non-customers alike) for rapid prototyping and such, with community events, corporate days, school trips and training sessions filling blank spaces in the calendar.

MakerSpaces are one of two types of Barclays "Eagle Labs" -- part of the bank's wider digital skills education program -- the other being the slightly more boring "Incubators." These are shared workspaces for startups (aka "high-growth firms") and entrepreneurs to collaborate, network and talk startup stuff in, with mentoring from Barclays folks, naturally. While the first of these Incubator spaces is yet to debut, pilot MakerSpaces have already opened this year in Cambridge and Bournemouth.

Another will give new purpose to a redundant branch in Brighton this week, and Barclays plans to bring the total number of Eagle Labs to 20 by the end of the year (sites in Birmingham and Huddersfield among them). And if they really catch on, perhaps one day you'll be able to pay in cheques and print naked, 3D selfies all in one place.