FabLabs on the rise: Worldwide, there are more and more contact points, where your ideas take on a printable shape through the latest 3D technology. I was talking to the founders of the FabLab Zurich.
Hello you two! What is your most exciting feature?
Hello, Nina. With us, you can scan yourself and print your image as a minifigur in 3D!
The term of the FabLabs, I hear more and more often - but what is it, actually?
The idea behind the FabLabs is to provide as many people as possible with easy access to digital production, such as the laser printer, the 3D printer or the CNC milling machine. FabLabs is now available in almost all major cities worldwide - either at universities, or as an independent organization. Members can use the machines, for a small fee.
Ah okay - and what makes your FabLab so special?
The FabLab here is actually like a big family. It is not about making as much money as possible, but about the matter itself. When the FabLab 2013 was founded, the first machines were initially financed from the private funds of the founding members. The first laser was bought by the ETH, a mini-room was rented. Today, the FabLab comprises two large rooms with a common kitchen, one of which is rented as a studio. Thus, the large workshop space is cross-subsidized with workstations and equipment. During the opening hours, our volunteer FabLab managers provide for the room - and introduce newcomers.
Cool. What does your backend look like?
We are organized as an association. The FabLab managers work with us pro bono, in different shifts, they monitor the machine usage and keep an eye on the cash balance. We do not have computer programs or the like for billing or organization. We work quite simply with forms, in which the usage time and type of the machine is entered. The managers collect these FabSummaries, scan them and send them to our accountant.
And what are your plans for the future?
Especially at the examination times for the architects of the ETH, there is an enormous amount of operation, as the lasers at the ETH are regularly overloaded. That is why we are now also on the verge of entering into an official cooperation with the ETH - which, however, must be decided by the board of management. Recently, it was decided to allow holders of the "Kulturlegi" to be favoured.
Well, then – may you continue with a lot of success! Still tips for founders, as a conclusion?
Founding associations in actually quite simple, but precisely in this also lies the problem. The basis is the formulation of the statutes, ie the rights and obligations. Statutes are often not really formulated and respected during the founding process, and that is exactly what is important, because changing the statutes can be very tedious, as the association's assembly has to vote on it. So, start in the right way, from the beginning.