Starting a FabLab

We enjoy helping people setting up a fablab, whether mini, midi or large.

Examples are the ICER-lab at the renovating DRU factory in Ulft Netherlands; its big ICER lab was opened by King Willem Alexander in May 2014. Also FabLab DrontenFabLab Zwolle and Kaasfabriek in Alkmaar, that started in a mobile container at the OHM2013 hackers conference and now have a full blown lab in a five-container-buiding. Check for current intiatives.

For a small Fablab or makerspace the recipe is simple:
- With a few friends get a space.
- Get a lasercutter, a 3D printer plus some other goodies.
- Nail the Fab Charter on the wall and get involved with other labs!
- Let the world know they are welcome at certain times to fab for free.
Be surprised about what it will offer you !

[Als je in de Benelux een fablab wilt opzetten, stuur dan een mail naar bart [at] fablab [dot] nl. Wij kunnen je wijzen naar nuttige info voor starters. fablab_logo_finalDe stichting FabLab Benelux geeft workshops 'Hoe start ik een fablab'. De laatste was op 27jun17 in Amsterdam.]

Fablab Amersfoort has set up a bigger lab in a grassroots way. In 7 days with 4 people and € 5000 of their own cash.  The recipe can be found in their  fablab-instructable.pdf. They run the lab without any external funding.

For a grassroots fablab to succeed there is the golden 10P Rule: ‘Get a core of 3 to 4 people and expand to 10’. But from different professions/networks.

Waag Society offers this recipe for the formal approach:
- Gather a bunch of friends, collegues or companies and decide to start a Fablab. Find a nice community space.
- Get funding from a sponsor, investor or local government and buy the standard machines.
- Get involved with the international Fablab network through for example video conferencing, Fab Academy classes and social media.
- Open the lab for everyone to realize and document their own ideas.

Massimo Menichinelli (ex Aalto FabLab in Helsinki and MUSE FabLab in Trento) wrote a good paper 10-things-to-do-when-starting-a-fablab
There is a lot more info on the topic on

Cost. A fablab costs money. Neil Gershenfeld applied Charles Eames’ ‘Powers of Ten’ metaphor to future fablabs with $1000k, $100k and $10k labs. The MIT standard suite is in the $100k range.
At FAB9 he asked us to research if a stable $10K fablab was feasible. 10K being the magnitude, not absolute. We presented it at FAB10 in Barcelona. Here is an example of a 10K fablab or Small Fablab Suite.