Waag opened its doors of the very first independent Fab Lab in Europe in 2007. The "mother of maker spaces in The Netherlands" is not only a place for hackers and nerds who want to play with machines, but a place in which a new vision of design and production technology has changed the role of the consumer rigorously.
The consumer became designer and producer at the same time, through accessibility of 3D printers, laser cutters and other machines. Previously these machines were only available to major manufacturers. In addition to the new technology, the new creator's mindset is crucial. Through the connectivity of the Internet, sharing knowledge and transparency in production chains ownership, earnings models and licenses were radically overtaken.
Fab Labs and social innovation
Due to breaking the existing production chains, it was possible to use digital manufacturing for social purposes. The shareholder is no longer the only decision maker. “Knowledge is shared and used, not patented”, says the mantra.
The Fairphone is a smartphone that tries to make the production chain transparent, fair and fully modular. This examples a successful project started in the Fab Lab. The goal is learn, make and share. Currently Fablabs have been found throughout Amsterdam in the so-called ‘Maakplaatsen’, which are linked to public libraries. Children have the opportunity to learn skills in order to prepare themselves for their future in the 21st century.
In the light of the 10th anniversary of Fablab Amsterdam in 2017, we have published a magazine with articles about the impact FabLabs are aiming for, what role they can have and which changes they can create within the mindset of the profit industry, educational institutions, but also for individuals, such as children and -aspirant- makers.