Fablab Torino is the first Italian fablab, and our laboratory pursues one main objective: bring digital fabrication and open source culture in a physical space where machines, ideas, and people can merge and contaminate each other, while learning from one another!
Fablab, makerspace and hackerspace
Fablab Torino in details
All you need to know about the workshop before getting there
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A guided tour of Fablab Torino
Interview of Davide Gomba, Stefano Paradiso & Fabrizio Garda and immersion into the workshop
MakerTour's 6 topics
Understand in depth the mecanisms and practices of this workshop
An exhibition called Fablab Italia was created in 2011 in which Riccardo Luna asked Massimo Banzi and other people from Officine Arduino to create a place representing the future of work . It was thought as a 9-month fablab.
But there was a shift in its evolution! The fablab tools and experience could enrich Officine Arduino’s experience after all. A deal was made with Toolbox Coworking to use some of their space and rehabilitate it. In February 2012, Officine Arduino settled in and Fablab Torino opened. The company paid for the fablab machines and offered some employees time.
The idea? “Let people from Torino and all Europe experience the use of these tools and the aesthetics behind it, and see all the possibilities you have. It was meant at curious people dealing with strange things in broad terms: makers, entrepreneurs, private companies. Kids!”
“The main topic in this fablab was education, and it didn’t changed. There are still shady areas between Officine Arduino and the fablab, and what entity should do what. It’s very challenging to create a good model!”
“Here in the fablab, the typical users are designers and engineers. There are hobbyists, students (mainly from PoliTecnico di Milano school), and also craftsmen, woodworkers making furnitures. But it’s still mostly men (80%).”
They discover Fablab Torino mainly from the website and social media. “We have Open Days sessions on Tuesday nights to make a tour in the fablab, and people come back to attend some workshops. I would say 40% people who come to Open Days come back to attend a workshop. Most if them come here for the workshops, but don’t show up during the rest of the week.”
Why are they coming? “Some for a project, some hear about digital fabrication and want to discover the fablab and its machines, some don’t even know why and come looking for collaboration and projects to join. A little percentage come here for their work, like a laboratory with tools” The range of projects is very wide, you should take a look at their portfolio.
“Even if we have 250 members, only 20-30 represent a core community and have a deep fablab culture. They come often to help people within the fablab, to run workshops, to share what they do, moments together and feel good!”
The pedagogy and animation
Fablab Torino is a non-profit org. with a 6-people “council”. But there are only two people employed by the fablab on a daily basis: one on the lab coordination, machinery, design, and architecture related activities; the other one on events, workshops and community management. All others contribute to the fablab’s life and management but are not paid for it.
To welcome newbies, “we do organise every week an Open Day session to let people see the lab for the first time and ask questions. Once the person suscribes, they are invited to join some workshops. You need to attend it (some are free) before using the machines and tools.”
On Open Days, there’s the Hello World workshop, free for new suscribers who can also bring someone from free. It’s a lab introduction to the space, machines and equipment. But Fablab Torino offers more than 50 workshops from coding to drone basics, clay matter and DIY lamps.
A rare thing, Fablab Torino’s members created autonomous and thematic subcommunities like Audiohacklab, Biohacking Experience in Torino, Fablabs for Kids, Arduino User Group, etc. They run meetups, events and projects on their own, independently from the fablab’s team.
Fablab Torino has many different ways to keep traces about the fablab and what people make inside. The blog and agenda features all the events and workshops, the portfolio features the users and fablab team projects (picture, maker name, links), the newsletter introduces the coming events and everyday interactions through the social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Instagram, Vine, GitHub, Tumblr, Pinterest and Vimeo).
About projects documentation, Fablab Torino started a collaboration with YouWant3D, a 3D printing platform startup. “What a fablab needs is a platform for its makers to share their projects and be able to recreate the projects made by other people of the world community. Through our collaboration, YouWant3D developed a new branch of their website, made for this use!”
“I guess makers from our community read a lot of external documentation. Mostly on Github, people working on Arduino use Github a lot. The FabAcademy documentation, with the students following the classes. You can see their work there.”
“We also push our makers to speak about what they do! We even created events to teach makers how to become more entrepreneurial: social networks, business model canvas, taking pictures, share their work outside of the lab!”
The business model
Fablab Torino was created with less than 30.000 euros. The first business model was to rent machines and give workshops, helping also the creation of other fablabs. During Fablab Italia exhibition in 2011, they made a deal with Toolbox Coworking to be hosted there, paying them a rent. 10-20 people took part in the adventure. The machines were given/loaned and shared between the fablab and Officine Arduino.
Today, the non-profit org. has two people in the team and six in the bureau. The community gathers 250 members, and run activities for a yearly budget of 26.000 euros. Its different income sources are workshops, classes like the FabAcademy, collaborations based on renting know-how, and minute-based machines use.
Tomorrow, they’d like to empower the fablab core community people in a profitable way, create a cooperative solution to provide services. And become more independent.
Their indicators of Fablab Torino’s good health? “The subcommunities diversity, being always creating strange and innovative workshops, seeing big companies coming through the doors. A fablab is a community. So the community is the main indicator. Machines are just machines.”
But what makes Fablab Torino unique in the fablab/makerspace world community? “It was the first Italian fablab, back in 2012. We work hard to offer solutions to open source and open hardware issues, like we do with Casa Jasmina experimentation.”
“The fablab is enriched by the relationship with Arduino and Comau Robotics (6-axis robotic arms). We collaborate to improve what we both do and find new ways of using these future tools. Eventually, we also try to have the greatest attention towards kids activities and also specific needs with initiatives like Hackability (hackathon about disability) and Arduino Disability Orchestre.”
Looking at environmental concerns, Fablab Torino try the most to re-use everything. “But the problem is to deal with the non-reusable things. We tried to create a waste cabin and discussed it with the city. But for now, we bring everything to the main trashes.” About energy consumption, the electricity cost is shared between Fablab Torino and Officine Arduino (20kW power, tri-phase).
They also run hackathons to use the junk to create many things. “We collect as much “good junk” as possible, a fablab’s purpose is to reuse, to redesign things. These events create community repair experiences and help us develop our own approach to technology.”
The great practices of Fablab Torino
The good initiatives of this workshop which should inspire everyone
The future development and projects of the workshop
Become more independent
Fablab Torino is powered by Officine Arduino and depends on this collaboration. At the moment, the business model is based on education with workshops and courses like the FabAcademy. About their independence strategy, the team is thinking of developing more activities and collaborations with factories and freelances at a local scale.
Lab use for research projects
Fablab Torino and Officine Arduino people would like to diversify the collaborations like the one they have with Comau Robotics, so the fablab could be used for research projects. They see it as a way to become even more useful for the real world outside maker communities!
Wait, there's more to read!
A few links and ressources about the workshop
- Movilab's link: movilab.org/index.php?title=Maker_Tour
- Fablab Torino on Make in Italy Foundation website : http://makeinitaly.foundation/wiki/FabLab_Torino
- Workshop on Prusa 3D printer video : https://vimeo.com/60041429
- Fablab Torino on Fablabs.io : https://www.fablabs.io/fablabtorino
for their warm welcome and the time they dedicated to the initiative!