Proto BuildBar: Cafe and Inventor’s Paradise

Proto Buildbar’s unique, hands-on environment makes it a popular destination for fun in Dayton.

Written by Robert Leitch.

Next time you’re planning a date night, you could go with the classic dinner and a movie — or you could take your significant other to build a circuit board over a bottle of wine. Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio, combines a 3D printing facility, makerspace and cafe into one creative hotspot that’s sure to provide a unique, experiential twist to your typical night out.

“Proto is a fun, hands-on place where people of all ages and experience levels can come together around a simple, yet powerful idea: ‘I want to make something great,’” said Tom Mitchell, operations manager at Proto BuildBar. “Whether you want to build a circuit, print a model or just hang out in a creative space with Wi-Fi and a cup of joe, you can do that here.”


Design and Print Something Unique

Proto has an entire wall of various 3D printers you can try out. If that sounds intimidating, not to worry — experts are on-hand to help with the equipment at Proto. You can download one of their many pre-set 3D designs, like toys and small tools, or you can design an object yourself. You can even use Proto’s 3D scanner to scan an existing object and print your own model.

Make Electronics Come to Life

At Proto BuildBar, working knowledge of electronics is not a prerequisite to build something awesome. Proto’s staff of experts and circuit sets on hand can make you look like a soldering pro. If you’re feeling ambitious, they’ve got all pre-built pieces you need to build a moving, blinking robot. Or how about build an electronic masterpiece entirely from scratch at one of Proto’s Maker Benches. Each work bench is fully equipped with a digital solder station, power supply, laptop and a full set of small electronic hand tools. At this BuildBar, you’ve got what you need to fix or create just about anything.

Be a Part of the Entrepreneurial Community

Tech Town, Dayton’s state-of-the-art facility aimed at developing tech startups and new innovation, is just a block away from Proto. Entrepreneurs often gather at BuildBar to brainstorm and collaborate in a social setting. These innovators view BuildBar as an inviting alternative where they can take part in the creative process while relaxing and having a good time.

Play A-Typical Arcade Games

There are some things that are just for fun, and you won’t find them anywhere else. Proto is home to the world’s largest claw game, with a 12-foot tall claw, a giant joystick, huge bouncy balls as prizes, and the Guinness World Record title to prove it. There’s also an arcade game specially-made for Proto featuring famed inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison in a fight to the death.

Feed your Creativity

While exercising your creative side at Proto, you’ll also find the necessary fuel to keep you going, whether it’s a sandwich, an espresso or a cold beer. Their cafe boasts a deli featuring organic wraps and sandwiches from local 5th Street Deli, a full coffee and espresso bar, as well as local craft beers, wine and select bourbons. There’s plenty of seating with access to outlets and high speed internet so you can keep creating right up to last call.

Build a Stronger Team

Chances are, your last company holiday party didn’t involve printing 3D models of team members and making them into Christmas tree ornaments. It can happen at Proto. You could also use the giant claw in your gift exchange, with people competing for the package they’re eyeing. Proto’s unique vibe creates an environment that fosters team development, often hosting team-building events.

Teach the Next Generation of Innovators

Proto offers classes for budding inventors of all ages, including a series of classes for middle school kids called Math and Minecraft, centered around the popular video game. Students solve math equations to complete dimensions for a 3D model and print their favorite Minecraft universe object.

“Everyone at Proto is here for the same reason: to learn, grow and create,” says Mitchell. “New technology can be intimidating, so we’ve created a welcoming vibe for people of all backgrounds who want to be a part of the future and explore their inner ingenuity.”

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