FabCity Hamburg to get millions in funding

Numerous Open Labs to promote sustainable, circular economy backed by city and HSU
20 January 2021
Use of AI in industry

Dreams of making a tailor-made product with a 3D printer are likely to become reality soon after the Fab Lab concept was presented Tuesday (January 19, 2021) during the state press conference in Hamburg. The city is now hoping to exploit the potential of new digital manufacturing methods in Fab Labs for local companies, start-ups and the public. Fab Labs or fabrication laboratories are open workshops where modern manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers and CNC milling machines can be used to produce almost anything from furniture to drones to entire houses. More than 1,750 Fab Labs exist worldwide and their numbers are growing rapidly. The government is putting EUR 9 million towards the project with backing from the Ministry of Economics as part of its innovation strategy. Hamburg joined the Fab City network in 2019. 

Speaking at the press conference, Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics and Innovation, noted: "The opportunities that arise for Hamburg from promoting Fab Labs are manifold. Economically, the spread of and access to digital production technologies such as 3D printing will make it more attractive for manufacturing companies to locate in Hamburg. New ideas and prototypes can be created in the Fab Labs, and novel companies can be set up by the so-called 'makers' to market them." 

Digital manufacturing

Digital manufacturing refers to an integrated approach to production; everything from design to physical prototyping and the final product is done digitally. Creating designs for products with other internet users and sharing them on worldwide platforms is likely to spark huge interest. Products can be designed and adapted globally but produced locally and as close as possible to the place of need. A city becomes a FabCity by creating comprehensive, low-threshold access to Fab Labs. 

Helmut Schmidt University as initiator

After initiating Hamburg's application to become a FabCity,  the Laboratory of Manufacturing Technology (LaFT) at HSU is now giving the population low-threshold access to production technologies in the Wandsbek-based OpenLab. The initiators, Dr.-Ing. Tobias Redlich and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens P. Wulfsberg, help students across all disciplines experience and research new technological developments and open-source hardware. The project aims to give local companies and users an opportunity to produce goods locally in future close to where they are needed and as individualised as possible. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of this approach in future. Six topic-specific Fab Labs focusing on the port and life sciences will be launched initially. 

"Local production in urban areas boosts resilience to global influences, which we have noticed clearly during the corona pandemic. Such a production form will give us an opportunity to produce certain physical goods at short notice where they are needed in future," said Wulfsberg. Hamburg is creating an innovative ecosystem that is steering economic development towards socio-ecological growth by establishing the FabCity approach.

Locational advantage for recruiting skilled workers 

The FabCity network offers Hamburg-based companies and universities or schools in the MINT sector great prospects for recruiting and developing skilled workers. Students, trainees and school pupils can experience real life, application-related use cases at an early stage. Companies can also familiarise future skilled workers with their respective employer through open fab labs.