Ten years FabLab – Bart Bakker

photo: Willem Mes

Ten years ago a visitor from Waag Society came to the first Dutch fablab:

‘Amsterdam 22 augustus 2007 — Het eerste, publiek toegankelijke, FabLab van Nederland opent zaterdag 25 augustus bij Mediamatic. Het FabLab is een openbare werkplaats waar gewone mensen met digitaal aangestuurde machines ideeën kunnen omzetten in tastbare producten. Het eerste Nederlandse FabLab wordt onder andere gebruikt voor de EL HEMA ontwerpwedstrijd. Het Fablab is een intensieve samenwerking van stichting Fablab.nl, de Waag Society en Mediamatic.’

The lab was in the alley next to the El Hema exhibition: an Epilog, a Modela and a vinyl cutter. As a maker-avant-la-lettre he was struck by the potential of the fablab concept. He decided on the spot to get involved in het FabLab Movement. His name was Bart Bakker, 68 years. He did actively and spawned many fablabs. And took care of this site fablab.nl.

It is ten years later now and I am 78. I have not for one second regretted that decision. Nor did my wife. That is why I make this post, sort of gratefulness. As in the fablab community I only meet nice people, with a few exceptions of course, but that is life. We have now some 76 fablabs in the Benelux and not two of them are alike. Worldwide there are some 1200. I feel connected with them. And fablab brought me to the Fab Conventions in Yokohama, Boston and Shenzhen. But primarily to our labs on the map on fablab.nl.

Feeling connected makes you want to contribute. That is why I constucted the Minifablab, which originated by a challenge by Neil Gershenfeld to devise a ’10K FabLab’. I now coach fablabs on affordable fablab equipment. And urge them that it is the people that make a fablab, not the machines. Just for proof I recently cut the FABLAB2Go, a full fablab (=including a lasercutter) on an Ikea trailer behind a bike.

As with all changes in life, things develop both slower and faster than one expects. At this moment ‘making’ finally starts to penetrate in education and in libraries. And ‘making’ includes ‘coding’. Two skills which will enrich everyone. Including me. Ten years from now I will be on my way of becoming the eldest maker in the galaxy. As I got a few projects to do! But you also learn patience: like waiting till finally that blasted Glowforge lasercutter gets delivered, that I backed two years ago in their crowdfunding …

Maybe I should write a book on these things: ‘A Maker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.