A simultaneous and interactive workshop 

between neighbouring FabLabs


a paper presented at Fab10 / Barcelona (2-8 July 2014) by:

Rodolfo Baïz

Fab Lab Luxembourg, Technoport
Esch/Alzette, LU

Pieter Michiels

BUDA ::lab, Designregio-kortrijk
Kortrijk, BE




In the framework of the Interregional IVB NWE (North-Western Europe) project PROUD (People Researchers Organizations Using Design for co-creation and innovation), three laser cutting masterclasses are simultaneously organized by FabLab Technoport (Belval-Luxembourg) and BUDA::lab (Kortrijk-Belgium). This paper describes the aim and set-up of the workshop and describes the interaction between the workshop locations and added value for the simultaneous organization of an equipment and material masterclass on different locations.




Collaborative   |   education   |   materials 




1 Purpose 

Activities organized within the framework of the PROUD project show the added value by applying a co-design approach within the several stages of a design process. Both described FabLabs are partnering in this PROUD project aiming to organize the local workspaces as dynamic and active co-creation spaces with a strong connection to each other.The aim of the masterclass cycle is to empower a co-design dynamic between the participants attending this cycle of workshops, in 2 different locations and communities that share the same kinds of experiences and co-working environments. Each masterclass session has duration of 4 hours and both labs strengthen their cooperation with a live-streamed activity that is held simultaneously using the workshop conference room for FabLabs.


2 Practicalities & interaction

The initial (and individual) try-out session of the masterclass cycle was organized by Material Sense and Snijlab, they have collaborated in making the full-set up of the master class, in this case made use of the equipment in the lab in Lancaster University, also partnering within the PROUD project. As a result of these try-out sessions, a program with following topics was collected in an information package, together with the workshop results of the first edition. 

The masterclasses topics are structured in the following topics:
Masterclass 1: Surface treatments & etching
Masterclass 2: Joinery & hinges to create 3D products
Masterclass 3: Compliance & flexibility to create spring and bend in materials 

Both FabLabs organizing the simultaneous workshops started from the information package provided and shared by Material Sense, Snijlab and Imagination Lancaster. This information package contained of the three main topics in which the masterclasses were organized, together with supportive slides. The issue of these slides is that they are built as a framework. Thus there is room available for presenting the specific approach of the participating fablabs and for description of the workshop. Finally a suggested material list is provided. Every executed masterclass of this list is expected to grow with more materials and findings. A video streaming location was set up on the MCU FabLab conference room platform (location 9@ 

The workshop sessions could be registered for per session, but both FabLabs made effort to convince possible attendees to subscribe for the full cycle of the masterclasses as the participants on both locations recognize each other from the previous sessions, resulting in a better transmission of the workshop conclusions and thus in a substantially shorter learning curve of applications of the laser cutting process.

During the first minutes of each workshop session (4 hours per session), both labs are presented to the participants with a short introduction about the available equipment and the practical exercise of the current theme. After this introduction and in the first session of the workshop cycle, the activity starts with a demonstration in order to explain the principles of the laser cutting process, the way to prepare digital files and the way the machine must be operated through CAD/CAM processes. 

The participants are challenged to produce their own designs, focused on the topic of the current workshop session and execute the material exploration and design experiments. A visual connection on the activity between both FabLabs is established, but no constant and actual interaction is active at this point. Once the practical exercise has been completed, all outputs are shown and discussed between the people and a very rich synergy runs during the last minutes when differences and similarities are detected and shared.

The masterclasses are organized for and with all creative people who want to learn more about digital fabrication with laser cutters and how to co-design their own products. The purpose of the collaboration between the FabLabs is to raise an awareness of possible opportunities in collaborative exchange and challenges. 


3 Reflections 

In the long run the aim of these first simultaneous sessions is to establish a framework wherein other workshop content can be shared between two neighbouring FabLabs. As location, culture and focus of every FabLab differs from one place to another. The simultaneous execution of this activity has a lot of potential information in terms of knowledge sharing, for the workshop participants and for the FabLab organisations.

As for now, the try-out of the masterclass cycle has been developed between two FabLabs. An interesting proceeding experiment would be to include more locations in the parallel workshops dynamic. Reflections on an efficient way to share the conclusions and results of this kind of activity would be necessary in order to have an advantage in the common time frame.


Snijlab: online laser cutting and digital production: http://www.snijlab.nl
Moving Materials: Laser Cutting Masterclass in Lancaster (UK) http://movingmaterials.eu/timeline.php#12
Makercase: easy laser cut box design http://www.makercase.com/ 
Living hinges: http://www.deferredprocrastination.co.uk/blog/category/def-proc/lattice-hinges/
Inkscape / Elliptical boxes: http://www.instructables.com/id/Generating-elliptical-boxes-using-a-laser-cutter-a/

This conference is part of PROUD INTERREG IVB project