Newsletter - November 2012

This is the November 2012 Newsletter of the International Fab Lab Association. It is an association of individuals interested in and/or involved in the Fab Lab community. It is a democratic organization run by its members. We will inform you about what is happening in the Fab Lab world and how you can participate. Feel free to forward this Newsletter!


  • From the board
  • Message from the president
  • Conference reports (FABFUSE2012, Fab8, Open Knowledge Festival)
  • Interview: Thoughts and wishes of Haakon Karlsen jr
  • Japan Presented First Mobile Mini Fab Lab at Fab8
  • Surprising outcomes of workshop on Fab Lab life cycle
  • Picture of the month
  • Upcoming events
  • Colophon

From the board

Ifa Board Members2012 Small
From left to right: Peter, Betty, Lass, Axel, Lindi, Alex, Chris, Katie, Nicolas

Dear friends

You are reading the long-awaited new issue of our newsletter. We reflect the busy lives that so many of you also have - fabbing and catching up with all the exciting things we get involved in! Sadly the newsletter got delayed. We hope that this newsletter still shares our excitement with you, Now it is packed with reports, stories, information and thoughts. Let us know what you think and want to share with us!

There are new faces on the committee: Chris Jackson (NZ), Katie Rast (USA) and Nicolas Lassabe (FR). At the elections at Fab8, we had eleven candidates which brought us in a situation where no candidate got more than 50% of the total votes. Given that, we realized that we need to review the official voting procedure in the future. Anyway, instead of allowing no new committee members, we decided to welcome the candidates with the most votes. Pieter and Hiro orderly resigned, since by our constitution one third of the board has to resign each year; our thanks go to them for their contributions in the past. The new composition of the committee is great because the board members now cover almost every (time) zone of the earth. Good for response times all over the day for the whole world - a pain for planning meetings ;-)
Detailed results of the voting can be found here:

The interest in being a candidate for the board by so many reflects the fact that we as an organisation are noticed in the community, and we are growing. We had a fulminant start and membership numbers are approaching 200, but we also have not yet convinced everyone that the association is actually useful, and many of those who are convinced appreciate the existance of the association but are not sure what it exactly stands for and where it relates to others within the fab ecosystem. We see that we communicate regularly with the members and the community at large but we have not established a real dialogue yet. We also realized that we have proposed a course on "How to manage a Fab Lab", but we fell short of connecting it properly with Fab Academy.

As every organisation we are revising our goals and structure from time to time. We see it as a design iteration and for that we need your help again. It is clear that we have been and still are (more than ever) an organisation of individuals. As the board of the association see the need for a public window to the fab lab community, an interaction point for the whole world and a global point of reference. We want to be as open as possible for the community, which is growing exponentially, with over 160 labs to date.

We have serious doubts that our name properly reflects that ambition. "International Association" sounds so formal. And it creates an image for many that such a body would certify what a Fab Lab is -- which we don't.

So we decided to ask you, the members, how our name could reflect better what we want to be and achieve. How should we call ourselves? You can participate very easyly via an etherpad (a web-based collaborative real-time editor) at

You see that we are trying to connect online as well as we can but also know that the best and most productive moments are when we all meet locally in the Fab Labs and globally at conferences and events.

FABulous greetings! Alex, Axel, Betty, Chris, Katie, Lass, Lindi, Nicolas, Peter

Message from the president

Dear members

The committee has made me president of this organisation. This is an honour and a pleasure.

It is particularly a pleasure to welcome Chris Jackson (Fab Lab Wellington), Katie Rast (Fab Lab San Diego) and Nicolas Lassabe (Artilect, Toulouse) as new colleagues to the committee. They will help us to broaden our view and to reach out to the community better than before.

My vision for us is to become the place where we turn to if our local resources are exhausted and our personal networks don't have the answers for our questions.

To that end, I want us to become the group that connects all Fab Lab users worldwide. That will help us, for instance, to organize regional Fab Lab User Meet-Ups.

I see us as a facilitator of discourse, as an instrument to make better connections, as a place for the international Fab Lab community to gather and grow. In no way must we be seen as a body of centralization and control; we are here by and for the community at large.

To a brilliant future of the international Fab Lab community.

Peter Troxler

Conference reports

Report of FABFUSE2012

On August, 8 - 11 2012 the first international grassroots Fab Lab conference - FABFUSE2012 - took place in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. About 50 people from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Switzerland gathered for three days of grass roots related presentations, workshops and lovely DIY barbeque. The topics ranged from social aspects (like ecological/environmental aspects of fab labs, open design, etc.) to organizational aspects (learning, mini FabLab) to technical aspects (3D scanning and building of open source laser cutters).

Some pictures of the FABFUSE are in our blog

Recordings of the presentations can be found at 

For details see:

Fabfuse 2012

FAB8 report

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HAERE MAI" which means "Welcome" in the Māori language was the motto of this year's Fab Lab meeting in Wellington, New Zealand. It was really a warm welcome that the organizers in the center of the world (depending on your map ;-) made their guests. The approximately 100 guests came from almost all over the world (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand and Russia). Everyone celebrated the official opening of the first Australasian Fab Lab in Wellington with days and nights of fabbing, talking and drinking (all in one go!). There were also many interesting presentations, workshops, our general meeting and on Monday, August 27th the Academic Symposium on Digital Fabrication. The Academic symposium closed with the Fab Academy Graduation 2012. Our congratulations to all graduates!

There was again a World Fab Cup. This year's challenge was to build a flying object, which was able to be airborne for at least 30 seconds. The winner object in the category "fab lab style" was Carlos from San Diego. He made a flying balloon vessel that was powered by a fuel cell. Winner in the category "creativity" was Axel from Hamburg with a quite natural object. The main winner was Jens from Norway with his fabbed Quadrocopter.

And of course there was a bit of partying, too. Some pictures of FAB8 can be found in our blog at

Open Knowledge Festival report

At the Open Knowledge Festival one of 14 streams was dedicated to Open Design, Hardware, Manufacturing and Making ( It took place at the Aalto Media Factory and FabLab in Helsinki. At the FabLab, participants constructed basic laser cut devices, developed an optical heart rate meter and built a DIYLILCNC.

Workshops addressed the Open Design definition, documentation and documentation exchange in and between Fab Labs, and new approaches to the practice of producing and exchanging knowledge.

Highlights of the talks included Gerin Trautenberger on Open Design and SMEs in Austria, Tomas Magroni on the legal aspects of Open Design, Alistair Fuad-Luke on an framework for interrogating the purposes of design, designers and the act of designing in past, present and future contexts.

The stream also addressed open source hardware for renewable energy and open hardware and gender issues.

All talks can be viewed at

Interview: Thoughts and wishes of Haakon Karlsen jr

Preface: We added a new continuous section to our newsletter. It's an fictional interview that takes place in the year 2020. For this month's issue we traveled to the future where and when we meet Mr. Haakon Karlsen jr, Chief Herder at the picturesque MIT-FabLab Norway. 

Haakon Newsletter

IFA: Dear Mr. Karlsen we are now in the year 2022, 20 years after the first Fab Labs emerged. On what kind of project are you working right now?

Haakon: The first three FabLabs was established by a decision at MIT in Boston October 18th in 2002. This three FabLabs was SETC in Boston, USA, Vigyan Ashram in Pune, India and MIT-FabLab in Lyngen, Norway. The official opening ceremony in our FabLab was June 20th 2003. We are still working with local challenges. Projects people need where they live. See CNN-video.

In our commune we are 3000 habitants and 11000 sheep’s and lambs grazing in the Lyngen Alps. We developed Mobil phones for every sheep’s for tracking and monitoring health. After that we developed body computer- remote control for shepherd dogs. As you know from Fab8 at New Zealand we made a helicopter with camera infra-red camera for to find sheep’s in the mountains. See The Fab Helicopter.

We have also many projects about renewable environmental energy. Other projects are “How to make furniture” from local resources like birch etc. See The Layer Chair – Viking edition.

IFA: I heard the people in your lab are working on a radical new machine. Can you tell us a little bit more what it does and how it works?

Haakon: We have still many exiting projects. Still the most important is to solve local challenges and problems. The climate is changing and the danger of snow avalanches from the Lyngen Alps is growing. May people die every year I snow avalanches. How can the safety of ski-tourists in Lyngen be increased?

We are working with horizontal snow scanners that can give us good information about the snow conditions. We still develop the earth scanner that can give us information about agriculture, archaeology and geology.

We like to say “How to make almost anything”, so we try to take it out also in the economic way.

The Arctic Alps is nearly finished with all attractions inside the mountains. This is a global reference project for ecotourism. See Arctic Alps.

IFA: By the way, how big are your lab now in 2022 and how many people are using it now? How far is the next Fab Lab?

Haakon: The MIT-FabLab is the same as we build it in 2005, but we have developed accommodation with 60 beds in ten houses, so we have finished the master plan. And best of all, we are sustainable in the energy way. We get energy from many different energy productions. We use wind, heat pump, solar panels, bio gas etc. We are now a national reference project for sustainable environmental energy production. We are still eight people working in MIT-FabLab Norway. We have still between 5000 and 6000 visitors per year, the same as ten years ago.

The goals are not to establish many FabLabs. We want to establish sustainable FabLabs people really need where they live, not nice-to-have-FabLabs. The FabLab on Westmannaøyar on Iceland, Aro-FabLab in Kenya and Pajala-FabLab in Sweden are good samples of sustainable FabLabs. We have developed a concept where the FabLab duplicate itself from the ShopBot milling machine. First we make The FabLab House, then furniture like cabinets, chairs, tables, kitchen etc, then lights (chandelier) and at least machine.

Still we have to remember that a FabLab is a global network of people who want to cooperate and share knowledge. All other is facilities, software and tools.

If we want to fulfill this we have to use open software all labs have economy to buy, and as Professor Neil Gershenfeld say. “It cannot be a taximeter in a FabLab door, and the FabLab have to be open and free”. It is not acceptable to have the FabLab open few hours for everyday people and make business with looked doors the rest of the week. See the Fab Charter.

IFA: Looking back the last 10 years what were the technical or social milestones that fab labs achieved?

Haakon: Oh, it is so many milestones during these 20 years. I will try to list some of them.

1. Opening of MIT-FabLab Norway June 20th 2003

2. When we moved into The Fab Inovation Park in August 13th 2006.

3. The decision to establish decentralized education – Fab Academy on FAB4 in Pretoria, South Africa in 2006. See Fab Academy.

4. The first How to Make almost anything Class. See Fab@home.

5. The accreditation for Fab Academy.

6. Establishing of Fab Foundation in Norway in 2009. See Fab Foundation.

7. We got the accreditation as a science and development institution in EU.

8. The Fab sustainable environmental windmill park was open in Lyngen June 20th 2016.

9. To get Fab Kokompe – software to run any FabLab machine. See The Fab Modules.

10. The opening of Arctic Alps in December 31st 2019.

IFA: What was the funniest thing that happened in your lab in the last 20 years?

Haakon: FabLab have given us so many funny moments. I will try to list some of them, and there is also video from many of them so I will try to find links:

1. The opening event in June 20th 2003. A lot of important people celebrate the opening of something they and we not know what it was.

2. When professor Manu Prakash song Norwegian folksongs in Norwegian language in the Fab Boot Camp in 2008. Did you remember that Sherry?

3. When Amy and Kenny tried to row the self-made canoe. See Amy`s boat.

4. When we succeeded with the Fab Boot Camp in 2007. See video.

5. When Hans Kristian – 12 years old succeeded to connect 8 Hello board on his robot car.

6. When Abu from Ghana comes dancing into our FabLab with a big codfish he got in the fjord.

7. It is true that we can make almost anything – also a baby! A very nice baby!

8. When I come to Yomo Kenyatta airport with a whole FabLab in 45suitcases and boxes. I don’t pay a coin for the whole transportation. Onely 10 KSH to men for helping me with all trolleys thru the custom where Tom and John were waiting.

9. When Tom and Luzi in Aro FabLab printout “We made it” in 2008.

10. I have got a global family, spesiell Neil, Laura, Ely, Grace and Sherry.

IFA: If you could travel back in time to the year 2012 what would you try to do differently?

Haakon: Dear friends, nothing. Why should we think about and use our brain on things we not can change? The time come to you every second, every hour, every day. Let us together try to do the best for the FabLab and the global network. Let us all try to follow my good friend Frostis motto; “Let us make today a little bit better than yesterday!

IFA: Haakon, thank you very much for the Interview!

Interview conducted by Axel Sylvester

Japan Presented First Mobile Mini Fab Lab at Fab8

Image001 300 Mobile Fab Labs existed for some years already, mini Fab Labs as well. Now both concepts gave birth to the Mobile Mini Fab Lab. It happened at Keio University in Japan, where Hiroaki Umezawa, a student of Hiroya Tanaka developed a prototype. The Mobile Mini Fab Lab fits in a case on wheels and has a weight of slightly less than 20 kgs. It costs about USD 2000.
The left side of the kit (see picture) contains a green solar desk lamp, the iModela 3D milling machine, a CraftRobo cutting plotter and a powerfilm, a roll-able solar charger that generates enough power to let the machines work wherever you are (in the sun). The right part houses electronics, tools, materials, etc. Of course, the Fab Lab Kamakra will document the whole ASAP. Contact: Hiroya Tanaka,

Surprising outcomes of workshop on Fab Lab life cycle

During FAB8, Beno Juarez (Peru), Victor Freundt (Peru), Lindi Mophuti (South Africa), and Pieter van der Hijden (The Netherlands) organised a 3 hr workshop during one of the parallel tracks. It was titled Fab Lab Life Cycle: how to start a Fab Lab, Sustainability, Advocacy and Marketing and Fab courses to help. Part of this workshop was a short survey, that lead to some surprising outcomes:

  • almost all participants (25) represented Fab Labs in their set-up stage
  • nevertheless these Fab Labs where very active already; they listed their activities by underlying business model, which resulted in access (6), education (11), enabler (0), incubator (4), network (1), attraction (0) and human resources (1)
  • altogether the participants identified a broad variety of 72 learning needs; they were classified as setting-up, business development, commercial, human resources, legal affairs, running the Fab Lab and technology. 
The four organizers have given short presentations on business models, setting-up a Fab Lab, running a Fab Lab and on Fab Labs fostering new businesses.

All the inputs and outputs of this workshop can be found here (

Picture of the month

What are you seeing, where on earth is this found and what is its relation with Fab Labs? A little hint: this month, there is a famous festival in the same town. The answer will be revealed in our next issue.

Potm Oct

August 450     The picture in the August 2012 issue of our Newsletter showed Bart Bakker's miniFabLab in Utrecht in the Netherlands. It houses the complete set of fablab machines, but on a A4 format. The miniFabLab started as a small makerspace but is evolving now into a place that assists people wanting to start a medium or small fablab.

Upcoming events

Please provide us with fab lab related event announcements. For the latest information, check our website at


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