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!
Fab Lab Berlin
Berlin open digital fabrication studio
Fab Lab Berlin in details
All you need to know about the workshop before getting there
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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
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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A few links and ressources about the workshop
- Movilab's link: movilab.org/index.php?title=Maker_Tour
- Fab Lab Berlin's Instagram profile : https://www.instagram.com/fablabberlin/?hl=fr
- Fab Lab Berlin is the world’s biggest and best : https://all3dp.com/fablab-berlin-is-worlds-biggest-and-best/
- Fab Lab Berlin walkthrough : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh4KAIgk17w
- Fab Lab Berlin Google Street View : https://email@example.com,13.4180627,0a,111.3y,198.89h,77.52t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sU3Fl8PyGFecAAAQvObIoMA!2e0?source=apiv3
for their warm welcome and the time they dedicated to the initiative!