Fablab Ecostudio

FabLab Ecostudio, Panama City, Panama

Fab Lab

Superficie 500 m²

Ouvert en Juin 2016

Type de structure NGO

Exploré en Juillet 2018


Ecostudio is a FabLab that aims to improve access to tools and new teaching spaces based on technology, design thinking, and science.

Réseaux sociaux

Thématiques principales

Mode & textile Technologie - machines & outils Initiatives sociales & solidaires Education Electronique Architecture Artisanat Bijouterie Handicap

Cet atelier est fait pour les :

Agriculteurs Enseignants Jeunes enfants (moins de 12 ans) Adolescents entre 12 et 18 ans Etudiant.es Grand public Personnes en situation de handicap Makers hobbyistes Makers professionnels Entrepreneur.es Artistes Artisans Ecoles & universités Petites & moyennes entreprises Grandes entreprises Organisations publiques Associations Seniors Toute personne & toute organisation !

Enjoy our workshops and space !

Here, you will find a resource center to stimulate creative culture through new opportunities and experiences with digital and manual manufacturing tools.

If your are curious, if you want to learn new skills, if you are looking for a peaceful place to a have great time by making and creating, come to visit Ecostudio!

You can book spaces for your project, be guided by our experts and get notified for our next workshops!

See you soon ;-)

Notre atelier en détails

Découvrez en plus sur notre espace, nos membres, nos machines & services !

« Panama education is mainly theory » « We lack of manual workforce to attract companies here » These are examples of headlines Mathew can read in Panamanian newspapers when he was in India designing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings. Building the first fablab in his native country became an evidence for him. He used to share the pleasure of manual construction with his father and he discovered the fablab concept during his studies in USA. The idea of bringing such place in his country to tackle social issues rose until he decided to return in Panama to give it a try 7 years ago.

His first move was to create a NGO, called Ecostudio, whose mission was to empower people by giving them access to technologies reserved to elite and also the knowledge to used it without limit of age or educational level. But at the beginning, he didn’t have space. He first started to give talks and workshops to raise awareness about the potential of Makerspace and to start become recognized until the «City of Knowledge » knocked at his door. When US left Panama canal, this foundation acquired a former American military base to gather NGOs, schools and companies in order to transform society together. They believed in Mathew’s vision so they decided to support it by renting him a place in their campus.

If you pay attention to the logo, you will understand the steps of the lab story. First it starts as an NGO, the Ecostudio, in 2014 without a space. Then, in June 2016, he opened the doors of the makerspace mainly composed of traditional machines. One year later, in May 2017, it became officially a Fablab and 2 users, including the founder, were graduated from FabAcademy in 2018.

Contrary to Matthew’s expectations, people started to come in the Fablab not to learn how to create anything but to ask for production services. He took the opportunity to develop the commercial activity to earn money and time to adapt and strengthen his pedagogic approach. This strategy increased progressively his revenues while making him aware of a local challenge that can be addressed with digital fabrication : the recycling issue. Because of a lack of waste treatments infrastructure, the country faces a huge problem to store and reused recycled material. In addition, every day, each cargo waiting to cross Panama Canal are throwing lot of materials that can be reused.

In order to produce an effective impact on society, Matthew opened 3 areas of actions which served each other interests: commercial (.com) to raise money, education (.edu) to empower people and social (.org) to make people using digital fabrication to improve their environment such as recycling area. Later, he plans to open a biolab where people can learn and discover the biodiversity of Panama with searchers studying all the species and a fabric section to where people can rediscover the pleasure of design and production with daily products.

One of the conditions to create an NGO is to build a team of 7 persons, forming the “board of directors”. Interested by the idea of makerspace pitched by Matthew Hotsko, his sister and 5 people he met in school took part to his adventure. More than a friendship collaboration, they all put their complementary skills to make it successful : a lawyer, artists (clay, carpentry, sculptor) looking for space, a marketing specialist and an architect. During the first 4 years without a space, Matthew was always fully dedicated and he was joined during full time period by funders depending on their availabilities, interests and competencies.

During these years, they made their reputation and network. As a consequence, they were joined from the beginning by experts in jewelry and metal. The team progressively increased with new experts or teachers looking for a space to develop their activities. They teach courses to users and guides them in their project. Since the space opening, Matthew continued his volunteer full time position and the associates were either using the lab to develop their activities for their profit and to broader the lab offer or they punctually support Matthew depending on his needs. Students from Panama universities, such as Igor Gonzales or Juan Hayot, joined Matthew as volunteers for the communication and coordination activities. They were looking for such place to work on personal project and Ecostudio enabled them to be trained and to develop their personal projects while working for the lab. For the first time in 2018, they hired a digital fabrication expert for 6 months, Montse Ciges, 50% as a FabAcademic teacher, 50% as a project coordinator and maker.

If you push the fablab doors, you can come across team members (the fab manager, students volunteers and experts) but also one to three users developing their project. These are regular days. But if you choose a specific day in their calendar event, you can find 15 students enjoying a summer camp, 6 up to 10 users attending a course, a group of visitors doing a tour to discover the potential of the space… And soon be prepared to see their calendar becoming fully booked. In fact, in order to animate their growing community, the team tested different formats of events, from an open door day during the weekend to a special day dedicated to an expertise area and their success was beyond their expectations.

But it was just the beginning. Since 2 years, the team built the foundations of the fablab: a space, a machines park, a great team of experts, a network. Now they are ready to welcome a larger public to guide them into the making world. Because of the place location, 20 minutes from the city with huge traffic jam in the main road, they mainly focus on reaching people working and living in the campus of “City of knowledge” where they rent the space. This former US military base of Clayton gather more than 200 buildings rent to NGO, companies, university working in social innovation to transform society. For them, Ecostudio are designing new range of weekly courses. Different format will be tested. If you are employees, you will enjoy a « get blastered » course. It’s an afterwork workshop design to relax while learning ceramic, followed by a drink shared with the community. If you are a parent, teacher or student, come to enjoy an after school course. You can come to develop new skills, produce your academic project, transform your way of teaching or spending quality time with your children. The first step is to give it a try! The ministry of education has already identify the potential of makerspace. Once they get enough results, the next step will be to close a partnership with them to finance educational programs for giving access to digital fabrication to more students.

From the beginning, the founder made a strong choice by creating a NGO. The example of Techshop made him think that a makerspace cannot only rely on profitable activities, it should be at the service of the population. However, after few years looking for grants to buy machines, he adapted his vision and started developing a more hybrid model.

His great idea was to create partnerships with experts (craftsmen in jewelry, foundry, teachers in clay, mechanical engineers of national railroad, …) who had specific machines but were looking for a place to have space and resources to develop their activity. This approach brought 70% of the park machines but also human resources to give dedicated workshops. Thanks to the NGO status, retired manual workers of Panama Canal and few companies gave 15% of the machines park as donation. The rest was bought progressively by Matthew.

After 2 years, the Fablab isn’t sustainable yet. Revenues are mainly generated by the services provided to clients. 2 schools started to work with them on pedagogic program. They pay for workshops and it brings students with 20 annual memberships who pay to use the machines : as regular users, they pay 15$ to use the machine as annual members otherwise it would have cost them 20$ per day. Annual memberships also provide advantages to users (special events, support provided by experts, …). The experts in residence also pay a rent for the space they used. Ecostudio also benefit from the workshops organized with this expert by taking a percentage of the incomes (which depends on the agreement made with the teacher).

The increasing revenues covers the running costs (energy, rent, maintenance, website, …) but doesn’t include the salary of the team members who work as volunteers. The remaining income is invested to expand the space and to buy new machines required by users. An exception has been made with a FabAcademy teacher which has been paid during 6 months to train 2 team members and to develop the activity.

The objective of this 3rd year is to benefit from the machines park, the expertise of the community and the network to develop weekly workshops as a regular income. To make it possible, investment in the space will stop and remaining revenues will be invest in people to develop an education team, in marketing to reach more people and in interior installation to make it more functional. The recognition that will be earned through this new step should benefit to the public funding campaign for the biolab creation.

« Panama education is mainly theory » « We lack of manual workforce to attract companies here » These are examples of headlines Mathew can read in Panamanian newspapers when he was in India designing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings. Building the first fablab in his native country became an evidence for him. He used to share the pleasure of manual construction with his father and he discovered the fablab concept during his studies in USA. The idea of bringing such place in his country to tackle social issues rose until he decided to return in Panama to give it a try 7 years ago.

His first move was to create a NGO, called Ecostudio, whose mission was to empower people by giving them access to technologies reserved to elite and also the knowledge to used it without limit of age or educational level. But at the beginning, he didn’t have space. He first started to give talks and workshops to raise awareness about the potential of Makerspace and to start become recognized until the «City of Knowledge » knocked at his door. When US left Panama canal, this foundation acquired a former American military base to gather NGOs, schools and companies in order to transform society together. They believed in Mathew’s vision so they decided to support it by renting him a place in their campus.

If you pay attention to the logo, you will understand the steps of the lab story. First it starts as an NGO, the Ecostudio, in 2014 without a space. Then, in June 2016, he opened the doors of the makerspace mainly composed of traditional machines. One year later, in May 2017, it became officially a Fablab and 2 users, including the founder, were graduated from FabAcademy in 2018.

Contrary to Matthew’s expectations, people started to come in the Fablab not to learn how to create anything but to ask for production services. He took the opportunity to develop the commercial activity to earn money and time to adapt and strengthen his pedagogic approach. This strategy increased progressively his revenues while making him aware of a local challenge that can be addressed with digital fabrication : the recycling issue. Because of a lack of waste treatments infrastructure, the country faces a huge problem to store and reused recycled material. In addition, every day, each cargo waiting to cross Panama Canal are throwing lot of materials that can be reused.

In order to produce an effective impact on society, Matthew opened 3 areas of actions which served each other interests: commercial (.com) to raise money, education (.edu) to empower people and social (.org) to make people using digital fabrication to improve their environment such as recycling area. Later, he plans to open a biolab where people can learn and discover the biodiversity of Panama with searchers studying all the species and a fabric section to where people can rediscover the pleasure of design and production with daily products.

One of the conditions to create an NGO is to build a team of 7 persons, forming the “board of directors”. Interested by the idea of makerspace pitched by Matthew Hotsko, his sister and 5 people he met in school took part to his adventure. More than a friendship collaboration, they all put their complementary skills to make it successful : a lawyer, artists (clay, carpentry, sculptor) looking for space, a marketing specialist and an architect. During the first 4 years without a space, Matthew was always fully dedicated and he was joined during full time period by funders depending on their availabilities, interests and competencies.

During these years, they made their reputation and network. As a consequence, they were joined from the beginning by experts in jewelry and metal. The team progressively increased with new experts or teachers looking for a space to develop their activities. They teach courses to users and guides them in their project. Since the space opening, Matthew continued his volunteer full time position and the associates were either using the lab to develop their activities for their profit and to broader the lab offer or they punctually support Matthew depending on his needs. Students from Panama universities, such as Igor Gonzales or Juan Hayot, joined Matthew as volunteers for the communication and coordination activities. They were looking for such place to work on personal project and Ecostudio enabled them to be trained and to develop their personal projects while working for the lab. For the first time in 2018, they hired a digital fabrication expert for 6 months, Montse Ciges, 50% as a FabAcademic teacher, 50% as a project coordinator and maker.

If you push the fablab doors, you can come across team members (the fab manager, students volunteers and experts) but also one to three users developing their project. These are regular days. But if you choose a specific day in their calendar event, you can find 15 students enjoying a summer camp, 6 up to 10 users attending a course, a group of visitors doing a tour to discover the potential of the space… And soon be prepared to see their calendar becoming fully booked. In fact, in order to animate their growing community, the team tested different formats of events, from an open door day during the weekend to a special day dedicated to an expertise area and their success was beyond their expectations.

But it was just the beginning. Since 2 years, the team built the foundations of the fablab: a space, a machines park, a great team of experts, a network. Now they are ready to welcome a larger public to guide them into the making world. Because of the place location, 20 minutes from the city with huge traffic jam in the main road, they mainly focus on reaching people working and living in the campus of “City of knowledge” where they rent the space. This former US military base of Clayton gather more than 200 buildings rent to NGO, companies, university working in social innovation to transform society. For them, Ecostudio are designing new range of weekly courses. Different format will be tested. If you are employees, you will enjoy a « get blastered » course. It’s an afterwork workshop design to relax while learning ceramic, followed by a drink shared with the community. If you are a parent, teacher or student, come to enjoy an after school course. You can come to develop new skills, produce your academic project, transform your way of teaching or spending quality time with your children. The first step is to give it a try! The ministry of education has already identify the potential of makerspace. Once they get enough results, the next step will be to close a partnership with them to finance educational programs for giving access to digital fabrication to more students.

From the beginning, the founder made a strong choice by creating a NGO. The example of Techshop made him think that a makerspace cannot only rely on profitable activities, it should be at the service of the population. However, after few years looking for grants to buy machines, he adapted his vision and started developing a more hybrid model.

His great idea was to create partnerships with experts (craftsmen in jewelry, foundry, teachers in clay, mechanical engineers of national railroad, …) who had specific machines but were looking for a place to have space and resources to develop their activity. This approach brought 70% of the park machines but also human resources to give dedicated workshops. Thanks to the NGO status, retired manual workers of Panama Canal and few companies gave 15% of the machines park as donation. The rest was bought progressively by Matthew.

After 2 years, the Fablab isn’t sustainable yet. Revenues are mainly generated by the services provided to clients. 2 schools started to work with them on pedagogic program. They pay for workshops and it brings students with 20 annual memberships who pay to use the machines : as regular users, they pay 15$ to use the machine as annual members otherwise it would have cost them 20$ per day. Annual memberships also provide advantages to users (special events, support provided by experts, …). The experts in residence also pay a rent for the space they used. Ecostudio also benefit from the workshops organized with this expert by taking a percentage of the incomes (which depends on the agreement made with the teacher).

The increasing revenues covers the running costs (energy, rent, maintenance, website, …) but doesn’t include the salary of the team members who work as volunteers. The remaining income is invested to expand the space and to buy new machines required by users. An exception has been made with a FabAcademy teacher which has been paid during 6 months to train 2 team members and to develop the activity.

The objective of this 3rd year is to benefit from the machines park, the expertise of the community and the network to develop weekly workshops as a regular income. To make it possible, investment in the space will stop and remaining revenues will be invest in people to develop an education team, in marketing to reach more people and in interior installation to make it more functional. The recognition that will be earned through this new step should benefit to the public funding campaign for the biolab creation.

Technologies & procédés mis à disposition

Impression 3D Découpe laser Fraisage numérique Moulage Electronique Recyclage Outils pour le bois Outils pour le métal Etabli outillage

Services proposés

Accès payant aux machines & outils Formations & ateliers pratiques Missions dans l'éducation

Nos pratiques inspirantes

Ce que nous faisons de particulier pour gérer notre espace collaboratif

Launch your space with a community of experts

catégories
Communauté Lancer de nouvelles activités Créer votre atelier

What is it?

It’s a community of experts in different and complementary areas (jewelry, carpentry, foundry, mechanical engineering, …) who signed a partnership agreement with the lab to benefit from the space while sharing their machines and providing courses.

In concrete terms?

In order to set up a machines park with restricted finance, Matthew look for artists or manual workers who owned machines but needed more space to build their projects. He built a customized collaboration agreement with them to size the space dedicated to their activity and to define their contribution of the organization sustainability. Nowadays, people come to discover the specific know how provided by the lab (foundry, jewelry, carpentry, …) in a lab guided tour or in workshops and to be supported by experts in their projects.

Why it’s interesting?

The main interest is economical. It’s a great way to have machines and teachers without money. However you need a place that fit their needs (enough room, electricity, localisation, …) and an agreement with them to define the percentage you take for the courses they performed.

Secondly, it’s a good way of starting a strong community. Once installed, the relationship with experts can last for many months and years and brings users from their networks. This model fosters connections between experts of different areas, broadening their professional horizon. Eventually, it’s also a great opportunity to support local craftsmen and makers by highlighting their work and knowledge and giving them a place where they can transmit their know-how.

Contact : info@ecostudio.ngo

NGO (Non Governmental Organization) status

What is it?

The NGO status is an effective financial and social booster for non-profit makerspace with a long term vision.

In concrete terms?

It took one year for the Ecostudio team to obtain the NGO status which opens the doors of many companies donations and public grants. Once you create your space, one of the first questions you should answer is: do I want a profitable or non profitable activity? For Matthew, one of the founder and actual fab manager of the place, the non profitable activity was the most secure choice to run a makerspace with a long term and social perspective. If you have the same vision, the effort to get the NGO worths it. However, it shouldn’t be underestimated : be prepared to wait for many months or years. For this reason, Matthew’s feedback is to delegate this administrative process to an expert while building your activity. Be part of the « City of Knowledge » in Panama City is the first reward of his patience and efforts. Companies such as Bosh gave him machines and manual tools and he received a grant for Ford foundation for a recycling project. He was also contacted by the Ministry of Education who showed interest in the makerspace activities and projects.

Why it’s interesting?

In every country, the NGO status make it more easier to find fundings from companies that deduct financial help from their taxes or from public organizations and foundations that give you grants to support a project that fit their interests. NGOs also benefit from a high degree of public trust. It may help you to broaden your network of partners and your maker community.


Nos projets de makers

Inspirez-vous des projets DIY de notre équipe & nos membres

Silver and diamond rings made in a FabLab

The FabLab has a dedicated space for jewelry to make silver and diamond ring from 3D printing.

It teaches blind people to make jewel and find a job! What an unbelievable thing! And if you are looking for a personalized ring (gold, silver, diamond,…), you find your place!

Let’s dive with Vernon George Wilson into the story of his great project.


H.E.R.M.E.T.

H.E.R.M.E.T. stands for « Hermetic Environment Regulating Machine for Epiphyte Types ». In other words, it’s a biological chamber that aims to grow almost anything by automatically controlling temperature and humidity. With this open-source project, anyone can build the environment required to grow seeds with specific temperature and humidity conditions. Seeds are put in a mini tree made of plastic vases where each vase is filled with a nourishing liquid. This tree, made with a 3D printer, is put in a hermetic jar sterilized with fire. This jar is put in the HERMET container connected with temperature and humidity sensors to a cooling system (at the right entry of the container) and a heating system (at the left entry of the container) by a Fabduino. For instance, if the temperature increases inside the container, the Fabduino will automatically switch on the cooler until the temperature reaches its reference value. The container benefits also from a lighting system to monitor the growth and for esthetic purpose.


Precious plastic machines made in the Panamanian style

The project stands for the construction of 4 machines (grinder, oven, compressor, extruder) to transform plastic waste in products. Based on the project « Precious plastic », Matthew adapted the machines fabrication process to local resources and needs. His objective was to address the recycled material storage issue of Panama while converting collection center in fabrication center.


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