Fab Labs: Innovation in Germany and Latin America

Making own products is not an exclusive option of the companies. With the help of 3D printers, work groups called Fab Labs, formed by ordinary people, experience autonomous forms of production.


In Latin America there are different institutions where the concept of Fab Labs is applied. For example, the Fab Lab Peru Association is presented as “a private research center, without party affiliation and non-profit, which aims to move forward the state of the art of digital manufacturing ”.

There is also FabLat, a Latin American network of Fab Labs that asserts: “Today it is possible to manufacture (almost) anything in a Fab Lab. Learn new skills through the internet and with other people around the world.”

To date, representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela participate in that network.

The network brings together all the digital manufacturing laboratories that are part of the network initiated by the Center for Bits and Atoms of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Techniques for all tastes

As indicated by the Peruvian network portal, laser cutting is only one of the techniques used in digital manufacturing. In general, the procedures are divided into additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing.

Among the first is stereolithography, molten deposition modeling, or inkjet agglutination.

Examples of subtractive manufacturing are plasma cutting, blades or water injection, in addition to the laser cutting itself.

Fab Labs in Germany

The idea is also applied in Germany. Every Tuesday, the laboratory of the Higher Technical School of Aachen becomes an open workshop in which common users, technicians, amateurs, retirees, and even children participate.

Ralph Bohne, founder of the project in Aachen, knows that the initiative is not far-reaching: “As soon as 3D printers arrive in homes, it will be difficult to maintain this concept. It is like a copy space. When the use of printers and copiers in homes became popular, that business was affected, ”he says.

For the scientist and his team, an essential component in product development is speed. In Aachen, emphasis is also placed on “personal manufacturing”, when the production of so-called “prototypes” is intended for personal use.

Other German Fab Labs have their headquarters in Munich, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Cologne and Erlangen.

For more information, listen to our Eurodynamic podcast .

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