Fablab Cali

Calle 25 # 115 - 85 Km. 2 Vía Cali - Jamundí, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Fab Lab School workshop

Space size 120 m²

Opened in June 2012

Structure type University department

Explored in August 2018


FabLab Cali constitutes a space for hands-on experiments for students in engineering and design of the UAO but also for “makers” from different background. All of them want to strengthen a culture that emphasizes on a critical and creative use of technological sources (means) in a collaborative approach. FabLab Cali is a platform promoting the culture of peer-to-peer learning. It is an openspace for makers, inventors, artists and creative people who are willing to share their skills and experiences and insofar contribute to solve both local and global problems.

Social networks

This workshop is great for:

Teachers Students Schools & universities

Join our team !

We are opening a temporary position for any maker with experience interested by living a new experience in Cali. If you are looking for a place to investigate and if you are ready to help us growing the maker mouvement, the doors of our laboratories are opened for you! We will provide you an accommodation, food and transport during your stay with us ;-)

Our workshop

Learn more about our space, members, machines & services!

Cooperation, Creativity, Responsibility and Universality are values defended by the UAO (Universidad Autónoma de Occidente) since its creation in 1969 and the best application of those values lies in the heart of the University where is located the Fablab Cali.

To come in this space, you won’t need any authorization : just cross the entrance and look for the the 2 floors, in the middle of the campus, dedicated to the University laboratories. In the middle of dizains of machines and collaborative spaces (inno lab, media lab, electronic lab, metal lab, …), you will find the Fab Lab opened in 2012 by Freddy Naranjo, dean of the engineering department and Fabmanager of the place.

“The root of this university is the community : we are a non-profit structure which aims to empower citizens to address the current and future challenges either local or mondial. When I discovered the concept of Fablab, I saw the opportunity to go further in our actions by giving a free access to our machines to anyone but mainly to foster innovation and creativity through a new community of makers coming from different social background, educational levels, organisations. Our students need to be prepared to jobs that don’t exist yet and every citizen should have access to technology and knowledge to tackle personal and local challenges.”

6 years later, the idea of Freddy Naranjo came true : the Fablab is used by students and teachers from all the fields since the first year of their studies, it trained dizains of artists, citizens, children during workshops, it gathered local and international actors during events and raised government and companies awareness about digital fabrication. Complex medical prothesis or advanced home made 3D printer coupled with plastic recycler are examples of useful projects made by team of students in the collaboration with teachers, medical companies, end users.

The next step of this visionary and committed dean is to develop a local red of makerspaces, based on the spirit of Fabcity, to make the space physically more accessible to everyone and to offer a more personalized support and animation. For that, he can relied on recent successes with the creation of 2 makerlabs in public libraries 2 years ago, one of whom got excellent results in a poor and violent district (Comuna 20). Aligned with the city objective of using new technology to develop Cali, the fablab team may be requested to help other schools, colleges and universities to create their own fablab. A perfect application of the maker spirit : convince with concrete examples and start small to secure the growth.

Officially, the team is composed of 3 people : Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez, Fab manager and Dean of the engineering department in charge of the strategic, political and financial activities, Nelson Alvarez, technical operator in charge of the use and maintenance of the machines and Carolina es Sanchez, a student in mechanical engineering and assistant of Nelson. The fablab is also part of the Innovation department managed by Juan Manuel Lopez. With Freddy, they coordinate courses/workshops creation or interdisciplinary projects achievement, Freddy for the engineering part and Juan for the innovation.

They have 5 main activities :

  • Develop academic courses and practical workshops to train students, teachers and external users to industrial design, innovation and digital fabrication.
  • Assist users in the use of softwares and machines : Nelson and Carolina check the digital model made by users and make it with the machines if they are not trained
  • Support users in investigation lines such as fabrication of low-cost machines or adaptation of software for design and manufacture
  • Promote the maker spirit trough communication, events and meetings
  • Guide local organizations in the creation of their lab

In practice, to assume the variable workload, the team is supported all the year by dizains of students and teachers, either volunteers or working on a project. If relying on volunteers could be difficult for many organisations, here it’s not an issue. The key of this success : they open new workshops or launch new projects only if they find volunteers first. Thus, each team is responsable of the workshop or project selected. It’s also a way of challenging the utility of their actions: volunteers will only be motivated if the challenge offered by the project is useful for them (working with a company, learning new skills) and for the end users (answering to a real issue). One of the most involved teacher, Oscar Campo, recently won the international prize “Make a difference” for his project “Touch & learn” designed for blind kids.

The absence of financial pressure or indicators set up an ideal framework to achieve their mission of empowering people. However, to obtain more results, their next challenge will be the communication by documenting and sharing the workshops content and projects to foster the emerging community.

When you think about the Fablab Cali community you should imagine 2 levels of users : the community using the machines of the space within the University UAO and the community of makers in Cali whose heart is beating inside the wall of the fablab.

The first community is essentially made by students (80%) and teachers of the University (10%) using the place for their course and academic projects. By designing the space such as a pedagogic tool to make students work on real projects while learning new competencies (personal development, skills from other fields), Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez, succeeded to make the Fablab being a vital and interdisciplinary place for all the academic corpus. The place had the chance to be created by the dean of the engineering department him self to benefit from his decision power and political influence.

The remaining 10% users are external : students from other universities, kids, artists or entrepreneurs coming to enjoy free workshops. This small percentage and the absence of external users coming to work on projects is explained by the localisation, remote from other city districts. Faithful to the original mission of the place which was to empower everyone and to create a broaden community, Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez made an alliance with the red of public library and convinced 2 of them to build a makerlab. That started the Cali community of makers animated by Fablab Cali. By answering every month to external solicitations (visits of other schools, company projects, talks, …) and by creating initiatives such as “La Magia de la Impresión 3D “ which supports entrepreneurs, the community expands. Their next challenge will be to foster the exchange and communication among the different nodes.

To understand the Fablab Cali business model, you should first know the University model. Created in 1969 by 11 students and teachers, this school has been designed to provide night courses of engineering and economy to people willing to develop more practical and professional skills. Since the beginning, its model is community-based and non-profit : the students and teachers vote for the decisions and the benefits are invested in the structure. This first autonomous school of the city, independent from religious or governmental organisations, is funded with donations of personal or company sponsors and with scholar fees (13 000$ per student per year).

Fully integrated in the school as a pedagogic tool in the service of the community, the space and the machines are payed by the university. The salary of Nelson, in charge of the use and maintenance, is paid by the fablab itself with the innovation department budget. The work of Carolina, the assistant, is done in exchange of the scholar fees of her studies. The remaining ressources (students, teachers) are either working as part of their job (to create new courses content, achieve project or investigation) or volunteers (courses opened to external, support to the creation of new makerlabs in the city, …). The material used for the courses and investigation of teachers is paid with the Innovation department budget. The students should bring their own materiel for the projects.

For external users, the logic is unique : they don’t pay for the machine but use them in exchange of knowledge and experience sharing. They request the fabmanager or chief of Innovation department who deal with them the use of machine in exchange of a talk or a workshop so that the community can benefit from their skills. By putting knowledge sharing at the heart of the model, the community is living and the maker spirit of sharing is spreading. Through this non-profit model, the University also benefit from the fablab with an innovative and attractive reputation either for students, teachers, governments, entrepreneurs or company.

Cooperation, Creativity, Responsibility and Universality are values defended by the UAO (Universidad Autónoma de Occidente) since its creation in 1969 and the best application of those values lies in the heart of the University where is located the Fablab Cali.

To come in this space, you won’t need any authorization : just cross the entrance and look for the the 2 floors, in the middle of the campus, dedicated to the University laboratories. In the middle of dizains of machines and collaborative spaces (inno lab, media lab, electronic lab, metal lab, …), you will find the Fab Lab opened in 2012 by Freddy Naranjo, dean of the engineering department and Fabmanager of the place.

“The root of this university is the community : we are a non-profit structure which aims to empower citizens to address the current and future challenges either local or mondial. When I discovered the concept of Fablab, I saw the opportunity to go further in our actions by giving a free access to our machines to anyone but mainly to foster innovation and creativity through a new community of makers coming from different social background, educational levels, organisations. Our students need to be prepared to jobs that don’t exist yet and every citizen should have access to technology and knowledge to tackle personal and local challenges.”

6 years later, the idea of Freddy Naranjo came true : the Fablab is used by students and teachers from all the fields since the first year of their studies, it trained dizains of artists, citizens, children during workshops, it gathered local and international actors during events and raised government and companies awareness about digital fabrication. Complex medical prothesis or advanced home made 3D printer coupled with plastic recycler are examples of useful projects made by team of students in the collaboration with teachers, medical companies, end users.

The next step of this visionary and committed dean is to develop a local red of makerspaces, based on the spirit of Fabcity, to make the space physically more accessible to everyone and to offer a more personalized support and animation. For that, he can relied on recent successes with the creation of 2 makerlabs in public libraries 2 years ago, one of whom got excellent results in a poor and violent district (Comuna 20). Aligned with the city objective of using new technology to develop Cali, the fablab team may be requested to help other schools, colleges and universities to create their own fablab. A perfect application of the maker spirit : convince with concrete examples and start small to secure the growth.

Officially, the team is composed of 3 people : Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez, Fab manager and Dean of the engineering department in charge of the strategic, political and financial activities, Nelson Alvarez, technical operator in charge of the use and maintenance of the machines and Carolina es Sanchez, a student in mechanical engineering and assistant of Nelson. The fablab is also part of the Innovation department managed by Juan Manuel Lopez. With Freddy, they coordinate courses/workshops creation or interdisciplinary projects achievement, Freddy for the engineering part and Juan for the innovation.

They have 5 main activities :

  • Develop academic courses and practical workshops to train students, teachers and external users to industrial design, innovation and digital fabrication.
  • Assist users in the use of softwares and machines : Nelson and Carolina check the digital model made by users and make it with the machines if they are not trained
  • Support users in investigation lines such as fabrication of low-cost machines or adaptation of software for design and manufacture
  • Promote the maker spirit trough communication, events and meetings
  • Guide local organizations in the creation of their lab

In practice, to assume the variable workload, the team is supported all the year by dizains of students and teachers, either volunteers or working on a project. If relying on volunteers could be difficult for many organisations, here it’s not an issue. The key of this success : they open new workshops or launch new projects only if they find volunteers first. Thus, each team is responsable of the workshop or project selected. It’s also a way of challenging the utility of their actions: volunteers will only be motivated if the challenge offered by the project is useful for them (working with a company, learning new skills) and for the end users (answering to a real issue). One of the most involved teacher, Oscar Campo, recently won the international prize “Make a difference” for his project “Touch & learn” designed for blind kids.

The absence of financial pressure or indicators set up an ideal framework to achieve their mission of empowering people. However, to obtain more results, their next challenge will be the communication by documenting and sharing the workshops content and projects to foster the emerging community.

When you think about the Fablab Cali community you should imagine 2 levels of users : the community using the machines of the space within the University UAO and the community of makers in Cali whose heart is beating inside the wall of the fablab.

The first community is essentially made by students (80%) and teachers of the University (10%) using the place for their course and academic projects. By designing the space such as a pedagogic tool to make students work on real projects while learning new competencies (personal development, skills from other fields), Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez, succeeded to make the Fablab being a vital and interdisciplinary place for all the academic corpus. The place had the chance to be created by the dean of the engineering department him self to benefit from his decision power and political influence.

The remaining 10% users are external : students from other universities, kids, artists or entrepreneurs coming to enjoy free workshops. This small percentage and the absence of external users coming to work on projects is explained by the localisation, remote from other city districts. Faithful to the original mission of the place which was to empower everyone and to create a broaden community, Dr. Freddy Naranjo Pérez made an alliance with the red of public library and convinced 2 of them to build a makerlab. That started the Cali community of makers animated by Fablab Cali. By answering every month to external solicitations (visits of other schools, company projects, talks, …) and by creating initiatives such as “La Magia de la Impresión 3D “ which supports entrepreneurs, the community expands. Their next challenge will be to foster the exchange and communication among the different nodes.

To understand the Fablab Cali business model, you should first know the University model. Created in 1969 by 11 students and teachers, this school has been designed to provide night courses of engineering and economy to people willing to develop more practical and professional skills. Since the beginning, its model is community-based and non-profit : the students and teachers vote for the decisions and the benefits are invested in the structure. This first autonomous school of the city, independent from religious or governmental organisations, is funded with donations of personal or company sponsors and with scholar fees (13 000$ per student per year).

Fully integrated in the school as a pedagogic tool in the service of the community, the space and the machines are payed by the university. The salary of Nelson, in charge of the use and maintenance, is paid by the fablab itself with the innovation department budget. The work of Carolina, the assistant, is done in exchange of the scholar fees of her studies. The remaining ressources (students, teachers) are either working as part of their job (to create new courses content, achieve project or investigation) or volunteers (courses opened to external, support to the creation of new makerlabs in the city, …). The material used for the courses and investigation of teachers is paid with the Innovation department budget. The students should bring their own materiel for the projects.

For external users, the logic is unique : they don’t pay for the machine but use them in exchange of knowledge and experience sharing. They request the fabmanager or chief of Innovation department who deal with them the use of machine in exchange of a talk or a workshop so that the community can benefit from their skills. By putting knowledge sharing at the heart of the model, the community is living and the maker spirit of sharing is spreading. Through this non-profit model, the University also benefit from the fablab with an innovative and attractive reputation either for students, teachers, governments, entrepreneurs or company.

Machines & tools available

Laser cutter BOYE LASER HSLE 0906 Laser cutter BOYE LASER HSLC 1410 Polystyrene cutter INGEACOL Vinyl cutter Roland DGA CAMM 1 SERVO GX-24 thermoformer Desarrollo UAO 3D printer DIMENSEION SST 1200 3D printer ProtoLab 3D Giga Box 3D printer DELTAMAKER 3D printer Pankake 3D scanner SHINING 3D Einscan Pro 3D scanner 3D Sense MAKERBOT Digitalizer Scanner Kinect LittleBits Kit Arduino

Technologies & processes available

Laser cutting 3D printing CNC milling Casting & moulding Computing & softwares VR & video games Electronics Vinyl cutting 3D scanning Thermoforming Traditional tools

Services offered

Prototyping Coworking space Free & open space to experience Classes & workshops Kids classes & holiday training courses FabAcademy curriculum Free machines & tools access Exchange programs Residency programs Talks & conferences Community center Education missions

Our best practices

The inspiring things we do here to run our collaborative space

Fablab, a pedagogic approach fully integrated in the University

categories
Community Business model

What is it?

The Fablab Cali is more than just another laboratory of the University UAO (Universidad Autónoma de Occidente) : it is the first interdisciplinary laboratory used by all the programs in their curriculum. It’s also a communitarian tool used to provide for Cali inhabitants the learning skills and values defended by the school since the beginning.

In concrete terms?

Since its creation, the fablab has been designed as a way of shifting the courses from theory to practice. Thanks to his fabmanager, also Dean of the engineering department, it is used since the first year by students so that they can learn skills through real projects. It’s also used to mix the programs : the users learn to work in team while discovering complementary competencies. For them, these abilities of adaptation, opening, problem solving and the personal qualities developed are keys for students to be prepared for the new and changing professional world. As a consequence, the fablab is seen as a pedagogic tool paid by the University cost structure rather than an entity itself : the team rather focused on its use than its sustainability.

Why it’s interesting?

By perceiving the Fablab as a pedagogic and community tool, it enables anyone to feel free using it and the team can dedicate its time for workshops content creation and user support rather than commercial activities. In addition, it make it easier to create a community opened to external with free workshops and machines. The return of investment of this opened community is precious : it connects students with real end-users and professionals, it fosters experiences and competences sharing and improve school reputation.

Contact : oicampo@uao.edu.co;fnaranjo@uao.edu.co

Our makers projects

Get inspired by the DIY projects of our team & members

Syrus urban purifier

It’s a natural air purifier which uses plant and human interaction to decrease the CO rate of the ambient air. It’s main objective is to raise awareness about air pollution and make people engage themselves in the process of decontamination. It consists of an interactive carpet : when people walk on it, the system flows external air through a plant leaves inside a container where sensors measures the CO absorption. The result is displayed simultaneously in a screen.


Makerlab in Comuna 20 / Cali

Created with the idea and the support of Fablab Cali, the Makerlab Comuna 20 is a makerspace located in a public library in a violent and poor district of Cali. Its objective : changing inhabitants mindset by empowering them and gathering them through digital fabrication.


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