16 July 2015
Frits Groenen at Fablab013: “That’s the brilliant thing about being here, in a FabLab: there are a lot of machines, but also knowledge.”
Fablab013 has a very particular story. It has been conceived as a business since its birth in the city center of Tilburg.
The main challenge for its managers has therefore been to figure out how to balance the economical sustainability of a commercial activity and the concept of FabLab.
The demand of shared workspaces and tools was so high that, after only one year of activity, Fablab013 needed to grow and moved in a larger location, which became Fablab013 XL.
As the Lab grew, users and people involved increased, and Fablab013 became a cooperative. This way, makers, members at different levels, can directly contribute to the definition of the policies of the Lab and shape its course for their real needs.
On the occasion of our interview with the co-founders, Peter Scheepens and Vera van Duren, we met Frits Groenen, lab manager and technical support at Fablab013.
Frits is an engineer and within the FabLab, he found out how to combine his bent towards technology and the passion for woodworking.
Together with other members of the cooperative, he modified a plasma cutter to obtain a milling machine, which allowed him to realize something he has had in mind for years: modular wooden furniture.
We saw him working with the milling machine and a drill press to assemble his first piece, a CNC chair:
“I like operating the machines and working with wood. That’s my passion. So I came up with a chair.This is a mockup that I made. It’s a model to see if the pieces fit together and if the design works. We tested it first with the laser cutter because it’s fast, it’s proof of concept. From that point on, the design can grow.”
For Frits, meeting a FabLab meant giving space to creativity in a non-work environment and realizing his own ideas.
“That’s the brilliant thing about being here, in a FabLab: there are a lot of machines, but also knowledge. We have designers, we have technicians, it all comes together here.”
It has been the merge of the roles of designer, client, and producer with the added value of the collaboration with other competences:
“I could be in my own place, in my own garage and try to build stuff with my hands and with the tools that I’ve got. But being here allows me to inspire other people and other people to inspire me.”