Guided Tour

FabLab Berlin is World’s Biggest and Best

FabLab Berlin

FabLab Berlin is an open Digital Fabrication Studio and one of Berlin’s finest maker hubs. ALL3DP took a guided tour of the new facilities.

On the site of a former brewery in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, in view of the city’s famous Alexanderplatz TV tower, a purpose-built ‘Innovation Space’ was opened on 27th May. The space includes a ‘FabLab’ (Fabrication Laboratory): a stunningly well-equipped new hub for the city’s maker network, open to anyone with an interest in using the tools or hiring a workspace.

The new building houses two main tenants: biomechanics company Ottoblock and FabLab Berlin, who relocated here with its ten staff. The larger premises allows greater access to 3D printers, including several MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers and 3D Printers from the FabLab company Laydrop, along with laser cutters, CNC mills, and other tools. FabLab Berlin is also part of the Hackerspace network.

Inside the spacious, bright facility, the smell of fresh paint mixes with the whir of machinery. A large open-plan room is for workshops and co-working, with a number of specialised labs leading off, as our tour guide and robotics engineer Ahmad explains.

The first week since the FabLab’s re-opening has seen an Open Lab with free workshops in using a lasercutter, introductions to 3D printing, CNC-milling, Ardunino microcontrollers, and using a plotter. There have also been children’s workshops and tours of the space, all of which have proved popular.

After this initial open week, admission to the FabLab will be through membership by fee. As well as access to the equipment and workspace, members are part of a supportive and exciting community.  “If you are a group – students, engineers, hobbyists, designers – you can rent the space – for a week or however long you need,” explains Ahmad. “Any machine you want to use, you should attend a workshop,” he says.

FabLab Berlin is the place to be for makers & innovators

3D printed objects on display at FabLab Berlin
3D printed objects on display at FabLab Berlin

In the main room there is a display of 3D-printed objects and also a trunk of traditional tools. Printers are at work, with objects emerging below including the Innovation Space logo (a bear on a rocket) in plastic PLA, part way through its 38-hour print time. Beautiful and complex objects programmed in by Berlin designers are emerging from other machines.

Each of the doors to the labs are opened to reveal different smells, sounds and atmospheres. In the Wood Shop, there is the buzz of saw and the smell of fresh-cut wood. We glimpse wooden furniture and CNC machines. In the Heavy Metal or Industrial Lab, there is the smell of grease and metal. People are working at a half-manual lathe and other tools. In the Composite Lab, an oven and compressor make fibre threads.

In the Laser Lab, Lasercutters can cut and engrave 10-12mm acrylic, plexiglas, wood and other materials. An architectural model on display showcases the potential. Next door, electronic components for assembling circuits are available in the Electronic and Textile Lab, as well as textile printers and sewing machines.

The wonderful new FabLab Berlin is a meeting point for traditional crafts – woodwork, sewing, metalwork – with the latest in computer design and 3D printing. Its opening reinforces Berlin’s status as the place to be for makers and innovators.

Image source: Philip Steffan/Make Magazin