Staff from FabLab Cardiff have travelled to China to showcase, share with and promote to students and businesses the facilities available at FabLab Cardiff.
Funding from Santander’s Outward Mobility programme enabled Martijn Gommeren, Cardiff Met’s FabLab Manager and Kit Kaye, a Technical Specialist, to travel to the annual large-scale Fab12 conference, held this year in Shenzhen, where more than 1,000 worldwide Fab Labs gathered to share, collaborate, explore and fabricate.
Short for ‘fabrication laboratory,’ the network of global laboratories are linked to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and are equipped with technologies for 3D printing, laser cutting, vinyl plotting, electronics and programing to re-produce or create virtually anything.
Martijn and Kit met with staff from the University’s Beijing office and ran a design workshop with key partners there. They also visited a luxury watch manufacturer just north of Shenzhen, where 60% of the country’s export is produced.
Martijn said: “It is always beneficial to put our ideas to our peers and to hear feedback and share opinions. Every year at the conference is enlightening and we look forward to putting all we picked up into practise with our designs here.”
Other tasks included designing and making a life sized Wall-E robot and discussing digitising FabLab equipment to gather data and detect faults.
Copied products that add features or functions that the original designers forgot or deliberately omitted were also analysed at great length.
During a FabLab Cardiff workshop at the Oriental Media Center in downtown Beijing, participating students, mostly from the Fashion school, designed and prototyped wearable-technology jewellery using a simple Arduino Lilypad, batteries, LED strip and a button.
At the conference, other contributions from FabLabs across the world included discussions on Fab2.0, where machines focus on object oriented hardware and customising tools to favour specific tasks by using existing systems and software already available in the labs.
For more details on the varied products produced at FabLab Cardiff, see: www.fablabcardiff.com