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Fab Lab Berlin is a space for innovation, education and community. It is a digital fabrication studio, hackerspace, learning center and also a coworking space. We provide access to equipment, technology, as well as skilled assistance for your projects!

Access conditions
Membership and OpenLabs
Starts at 10€/month
Lab's address
Prenzlauer Allee 242
10405 Berlin
Germany
Website
fablab.berlin/en/
Workshop network
Contact

Hosting Capacity
120 people maximum
  • Lab's size: 650m²
  • Opened in July 2013
  • Part of Makea Industries GmbH

Fab Lab Berlin

Berlin open digital fabrication studio

Explored by MakerTour on 07.03.2016 icone facebook icone LinkedIn icone Twitter icone Contact

Fab Lab Berlin in details

All you need to know about the workshop before getting there

Opening hours horaire de Fab Lab Berlin Map and accessibility
Open the map in a new tab
  • Car / parking
  • public transport
  • People with reduced mobility
Publics & users Machines & tools
  • Laser cutters
  • Desk CNC mill
  • Medium CNC mill
  • 3D printers (FDM, SLA)
  • Tools workbench
  • Drill press
  • Sandblaster
  • Lathe
  • Big metal CNC mill
  • A0 printer
  • Knitting machines
  • Sewing machines x 2
  • Cutting plotter
  • Transfer press
  • Flatiron
  • Electronics
  • Vacuum oven
  • See machines details
Services provided Nearby workshops
  • BetaHaus
  • Science Center Spectrum
  • ViNN:Lab
  • Machbar Potsdam
  • FabLab Cottbus

A guided tour of Fab Lab Berlin

Interview of Rose-Marie Oger and immersion into the workshop


MakerTour's 6 topics

Understand in depth the mecanisms and practices of this workshop

To document and share with you all the fablabs and workshops we explore, MakerTour has developed its own documentation model. Find the topics we address along with the questions we ask when in a workshop on movilab.org

The mission

Fab Lab Berlin’s story started with a tour. Wolf had a frustration about universities institutional labs, not being able to experience industrial design freely and try (almost) anything! After exploring digital fabrication in the USA, he came back home and couldn’t find any fablab. He wrote on his university network about it, and that’s when Murat and Nicolaï appeared. All 3 decided to start a fablab as a private company called Makea Industries, to put the concept in an economical context.

Created in July 2013, Fab Lab Berlin started in a 20m2 space. They started with small demands, focused on what they could do best to finance everything, and got prototyping demands and bigger projects. It moved on until the CTO from Ottobock heard of them and the fablab concept.

It remembered him of their first days, decades ago, and how they use to prototype prostetics and orthesis. It got him interested in bringing these process back in the company. Thanks to the long-term partnership with Ottobock, Fab Lab Berlin moved to a 640m2, shared with the group.

The project aimed to give people access to the tools, from engineers, to designers and technical profils. Their will was to always work in-between design and production, to allow people to build quick and easy prototypes, and use the fablab without any stress.

The uses

Today, Fab Lab Berlin’s 700 current users are quite evenly distributed between designers, engineers and artists, with startups, freelancers and diverses groups of people. The main age range is between 18 and 36 years old. But in both team and community, it’s mostly men. “It’s a barrier for women, ideas and projects tend to be more men-oriented.” All discovered the fablab through word-of-mouth and Google.

Some come back quite often. They like the space and atmosphere, they work here everyday, they make business through the lab. In the R&D room, people show up to cowork everyday while in the main room, people come on a quite regular basis, with 30 faces everyday.

Professional people coming for efficiency come for the space and ready-to-use machines. The absolute beginners are interested in workshops, want to talk and meet people. While people with their own projects tend to stay for a long time.

And they do a super wide range of things, from art installations to furnitures, textiles and e-textiles, their own products. Companies even started there.

“Community engagement only happens if you look for nice people, supporting each other. It’s such a nice place to come and work everyday, we create the atmosphere, drinks and talks.”

The pedagogy and animation

As we said, Fab Lab Berlin is a private company, still a bold choice. But another surprise is that they're 24 people in the team, split in several departments : business dvt - events, tours and consulting (animation) - strategy and HR - finances and controlling - demand creation - lab management - design and robotic - software development - lab space - workshops (education).

As Murat told us, the n°1 rule here is to be nice, to be open and to show solidarity!

Newbies tend to come over to check out the place. "You can then book a workshop and get your Easylab card! If you already have a project, you’ll find a designer or someone of the team will find one for you to talk about the project, see your files, and guide you." If anybody wants to learn more, they offer meet-up sessions about different topics every Friday during the Open Lab sessions, with specialised mentors hosting the meetups.

Many classes, hackathons/jams and workshops are organised to stimulate the community life and DIY spirit. Some are planned in advance, but some are on-the-go. If you come here one day, you’ll find for instance OpenLab sessions, meetups, spring short classes, junior labs among many other events!

The documentation

Fab Lab Berlin used to have a blog to document, but it got hacked… “It was not very community-driven, but it featured the fablab and community projects, along with the lab’s life.” They had to shut it down and start all over again. Since then, they’ve been using mostly Facebook, Instagram and other social networks.

“We haven’t done an amazing job with documentation. We started Maker of the Week (one member project is highlighted every week on the social networks), taking more photos, use the new blog as a space to document seriously projects, to see who did what. Right now, we document for the users, but we need to encourage people to do it. We’re looking for the good format and tools!”

Fab Lab Berlin also has a wiki which has a specific use. It is mostly made to document how the lab runs, the machines, materials, technologies, workshops, manuals, and several everyday details. Go check by yourself!

The business model

Fab Lab Berlin started in July 2013 in Wolf’s office (20m2) with a laser cutter and a 3D printer. The three partners (Wolf, Murat and Nicolaï) invested a total of 25.000 euros to buy the machines and start Makea Industries’ company.

In less than 3 years, the company and the fablab evolved a lot. They’re 4 partners now, 24 people on the team, and 700 members as we write. With a yearly income of 800.000 euros for the company and 350.000 euros coming from Fab Lab Berlin activities. The income sources are services like product development, industrial design, consulting, engineering or R&D, coupled with minute-based usage, workshops, events and coworking. Ottobock’s partnership also plays a great role in the business model!

The thought evolutions are moving to a bigger space, 10.000m2 by 2018/2019 with 3.000 for the fablab. And also get cheaper, reducing the cost for minute-based usage.

The team indicators of Fab Lab Berlin’s success are the people’s smiles, the little happy conversations, the superpositive feedbacks, seeing people coming everyday to build stuffs, and coming back because they like the space, community and atmosphere!

The specificity

Fab Lab Berlin has a quite unique combinaison, being a private company (Makea Industries), created only 2 and a half years ago, gathering a 24-people team, in premises built to be a fablab! “We might be one of the most professional-oriented fablab. It changes the logic in an important way. We’re driven by the fact that we need to offer value, otherwise the fablab can’t exist.”

Looking at environmental practices, Fab Lab Berlin has a common place behind the lab, shared with Ottobock, to sort out and recycle the trashes: plastic, brown and white glass, thick paper, organic, etc.

Inside the lab, they have a clear signaletic, with funny signs to engage people. Charlie was recently recruted to work on these issues. “Designers have a role to play in waste management, be aware of the materials we use, try to be as zero waste as we can (material and food). It’s complicated and simple at the same time.”

The first step will be to start a compost and reuse coffee ground. “What is good with fablabs is that even if you’re not a designer, you can come, discover it in a few hours, and act and do something! It needs to be an easy talk, not a fight for environment.”

The great practices of Fab Lab Berlin

The good initiatives of this workshop which should inspire everyone

Start a fablab as a private company

What is it?
“Usually people mostly build fablabs as non-profit organisation or within universities. But Fab Lab Berlin was created as private company called Makea Industries.

In concrete terms?
The three cofounders made that choice because they want to show that you can put a fablab into an economical context, to build a sustainable business model around it. And rather having people giving money because they want to than asking for donations or government money. The cofounders were industrial designers who started as freelancers with small demands, and focused on what they could do best to finance everything. They quickly got some prototyping demands and bigger projects.

Why it’s interesting?
Fab Lab Berlin is the "living proof" that you can both be a sustainable company and an open fablab accessible to everyone around. They're super convinced about their “infrastructure model” where people can spend 2 euros or 1.000 euros, adapting to everyone.

Long-term partnership with Ottobock Group

What is it?
Makea Industries (the private company running Fab Lab Berlin) created a long-term partnership with Ottobock, a German group manufacturing prosthesis and orthesis.

In concrete terms?
Ottobock’s CTO heard of Fab Lab Berlin and the global fablab concept. It remembered him of how the company used to prototype prostetics and orthesis decades ago and got him interested in bringing these processes back in the company. After 2 years of conversations and deep-thoughts, Fab Lab Berlin moved into their new premises.

Why it’s interesting?
Both structures took time to build a very good relationship, based on symetrical benefits and a strict respect of not interfering in each other’s strategy. They both bring business, knowledge and projects to each other, and keep on cooperating every day!

EasyLab, a fablab management system

What is it?
EasyLab is a fablab management system homemade by Fab Lab Berlin to monitor the lab and enable people to access machines by themselves.

In concrete terms?
All labs share common issues: managing the tools, machine time, what happens when the machines break. The cofounders identified the specs needed and wanted to build a system to solve these issues. Chris came for a software development internship to develop EasyLab: a system made of wireless switches and web functionalities. It allows you to create user profiles, assign and book machines, activate them from user account, see each machine electric consumption, record time of use, etc.

Why it’s interesting?
Just like FabManager (open source fablab management platform) developed in Fablab La Casemate in Grenoble (France), EasyLab helps to monitor and automate many tasks. Making the fablab team and members lives easier! Tomorrow in your labs? Fab Lab Berlin is thinking about a freemium model, get in touch with them!

Tomorrow's challenges

The future development and projects of the workshop

Other industries partnerships are planned for the future

Fab Lab Berlin (Makea Industries) and Ottobock Group show how a long-term partnership between a fablab and an international industry could benefit both structures. Now, the fablab fablab partners are thinking about creating new industries partnership for the future on the same base.

Move to 10.000m2 by 2018/2019

As Ottobock owner is developing a great complex on the site where Fab Lab Berlin and Ottobock are located, the team is thinking about moving to a bigger space. The cofounders explained us they would move from 640 to 10.000 m2 in 2018/2019. The whole building will be split in different great zones: 2.000 to 3.000m2 for Fab Lab Berlin, 2.000m2 for coworking spaces, 5.000m2 for offices.


Wait, there's more to read!

A few links and ressources about the workshop

At last, MakerTour's team would like to thank Fab Lab Berlin's team and community
for their warm welcome and the time they dedicated to the initiative!

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