3D Printing

Barcelona is About to Become the Center of the Making World — At least for a While

After the Bay Area Maker Faire and White House Maker Faire “making binges”, the making scene is moving on to Europe. Paris just this weekend past hosted its own Maker Faire but it is one of the other beautiful cities in Europe (and certainly the one that is most fun IMHO) that will take centre stage for makers next:  Barcelona. That is where the Fab10 conference, the tenth international conference and annual meeting of the FabLab network, will take place from July 2nd to the 8th..

The “maker” phenomenon is booming. FabLabs are opening all over the world (there are 350 already active and 350 more on the way) and Barcelona, along with Amsterdam, is at its European heart. Talented 3D printing designers and educators such as Growthobjects, as well as fascinating digital manufacturing projects such as Open Knit for textiles and Foodini for food all hail from the Catalan city.

openknit FAB10 3D Printing

The conference — titled “From Fab Labs to Fab Cities” — will gather representatives form the international Fab Lab community from more that 250 laboratories based in 40 different countries who share tools, projects, programs and processes in what is meant to be an open and collaborative philosophy.

There will be talks from Neil Gershenfeld, the MIT professor who founded the movement, and Massimo Banzi, Arduino’s co-founder. Local institutions and leading 3D printing companies such as 3D Hubs and FormLabs will also participate and, as much as the open philosophy is starting to somewhat take hold in big industrial groups as well (Elon Musk just showed the world how it’s done buy sharing his Tesla patents), there will be representatives from companies that are certainly not “open source” but do share the creative vision.

For example Google Project Ara’s Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ Vincent Lubriere, and Foster + Partners’ Xavier De Kestelier will all take part at the Fab City Symposium on July 7th. Activities will be generally focused on the themes of Digital Fabrication, Productive Cities and Emergent Communities. The first theme, in particular, will serve to discuss additive manufacturing evolution, new materials and bio-fabrication, as well as self-assembly structures.

Although for most people who have worked in the 3D printing and digital manufacturing industry for the best part of the last 30 years the Maker movement may appear as a relatively young and somewhat contained phenomenon, it is nevertheless a fascinating expression of human ingenuity, that is bringing to the general public a new consciousness of the possibilities offered by the digital means of production. A true shared-creativity, truly open-source global creative community is probably quite a few years down the road, though it all has to start somewhere. Barcelona is a great a place as any. The best IMO!