A new fablab has recently opened up, but it may not be what you’d expect.
In the city of Tilburg (the Netherlands near the belgium border) Fablab013 has sprung up. Grassroots , and homegrown, in 6 weeks from initial idea to full-fledged concept-store, fablab013 aims to explore the boundaries of the fablab concept and attempts to pioneer new ways as fab labs and maker-spaces start going mainstream.
new concept’s in town
While fully adhering to the fabcharter, providing free and community driven access, the fablab013 initiative also has a commercial goal in mind as it is run completely free of subsidies, local governments or educational institutions. In fact, fablab013 was initially founded and fully funded by just 1 person. Within 6 days after first idea, a core-group (all complete strangers), was formed. This group and many volunteers that joined meanwhile are now running the lab. The hope and idea is that places like these may eventually employ (read: pay) up to a dozen or so freelance workers and 1 or 2 full-timers within 6-12 months.
Fablab013 is (purposely) located right in a downtown shopping area on a prime location. It incurs rent and bills like any other business, so it also needs to explore forms of revenue to become, and stay, self-supporting. Currently a number of income streams runs side-by-side through the lab.
- First off the lab has a -1 floor dedicated to classes and workshops. Labmanagers , members and external coaches are called in to provide quality education on a shared-revenue basis. This multipurpose space also features expositions of fablab013 members and affiliated art-studios, pulling in new crowds and networks.
- The lab also provides for a (fully optional) membership. This membership acts like a discount-model, providing memberdiscounts for workshops, machine use, material purchases, beverage & snack discount , and shop discounts
- Fablab013 features a full retail concept, having a normal shop window in a shopping area, where users and members can sell their lab-made products on a shared-revenue basis.
- Inside fablab013 is a box-in-box counter that provides for hot/cold beverages and typical hot/cold snacks, also providing for light lunches during workshops/courses. It also runs a small coffee-lounge for casual visitors.
- During down-time the labmachines may run production for local businesses and walk-in’s are welcomed to drop off designs to be lasercut/engraved , foil-cut or 3D printed on demand for later pickup.
- Our users and members which transcend the lab are not left dangling. We cooperate and network with local businesses to provide jumpstart access beyond the lab. As incubators we may occupy a chair at the business-table while startups go through puberty.
- Besides running the lab within it’s 8 walls (2 floors), external events are also part of fablab013′s initiatives. Renting their machines, knowledge and manpower out to perform on events, open days , schools and business-gatherings.
We at fablab013 suspect labs like ours to go mainstream really quickly. As core-partners with Ultimaking LTD we target the 3D printing market rather heavily because we see regular consumers entering into the 3D market. 3D printing is moving towards becoming a local copy-shop phenomenon, and lasercutting/engraving is riding on it’s coattails as just another machine in a local drop-off and pick-up point. In light of this development we partner with public places like libraries etc. to explore the combination of truly mass-market maker-spaces combined with the local copy-shop market penetration.
Maybe fab labs will always have a place in universities , institutions , museums or libraries, but we also believe that fab lab spin-offs will enter mainstream markets, and threshholds will be lowered to zero soon with help of national media, accesspoints like libraries , box-in-box stores, and mom&pop shops running customer-orders.
If you’d like to know more about our fablab efforts, failures, learning curves and successes, don’t hesitate to contact us at: concepts -@- fablab013.nl . If we can prevent you from making just one of our prior mistakes, we have succeeded in some of our goals.