Hamburg has become the first city in the German-speaking region to join the global Fab City Network. Backed by Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation, Hamburg’s Fab Labs (open workshops), fans of digital fabrication and researchers have declared Hamburg a fabrication city. The goal is to create comprehensive and low-threshold access to fab labs including the OpenLab at the Helmut Schmidt University, the Social Impact Lab and the Digital Hub Logistics.
More than 1,000 fab labs worldwide
The exchange between fab labs, makerspaces, research and educational institutions, open source hardware and software enthusiasts, environmental associations, repair cafés and city representatives and between cities creates all kind of synergies. Founded in 2014, the Fab City Network already has over 30 cities including Seoul, Paris and Boston. Over 1,000 Fab Labs have been set up worldwide, and their numbers are rising.
Fab labs are essentially open workshops in which almost anything from cars, mobile phones to homes can be produced using modern manufacturing technologies e.g. 3D printers and CNC milling. Production is often termed digital manufacturing as it based on computer-generated designs. The Fab City Global Initiative focuses on ideas for urban change to achieve local, productive and globally networked cities.
Expanding digital production in Hamburg
Westhagemann noted: “Now that Hamburg is part of the network, it will benefit from the experience of other cities and will be able to systematically expand its digital manufacturing capacities in terms of quality and quantity”. Hamburg gains all kinds of opportunities from supporting Fab Labs. Skills in programming, robotics and electrical engineering grow and should attract more manufacturing companies to the city. *Fab labs can also be used to create prototypes, and companies can be set up to market them. More opportunities for qualifications are to be created outside of the education sector.