Fab Lab – driving social change by technology innovation and collaboration.
Martin Bergman (left) and the team at Fab Lab, Halmstad University.
Measuring pollutants in streams, underwater drone Catfish will be able to make informed decisions about actions in different water courses. This is the kind of community development projects that Fab Lab, operating from Halmstad University, are interested in and have the tools to run.
There are more than 2,500 Fab Labs spread all over the world. One of them is in Halmstad, in the Halland region. At Fab Lab Halmstad University, three people are central in running and executing different projects, together with some 130 students and researchers.
Fab Lab – a global network
- Fablab was founded in 2016, and is a global network with more than 2,500 registered laboratories in 100 countries.
- Fab Lab, or Fabrication Laboratory, is a concept developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and is based on openness and collaboration between education, research, industry, and citizens. Once a year, all Fab Labs meet and discuss and exchange experiences on society’s challenges. This year the summit was in Bali, Indonesia.
- The 25 Nordic Fab Labs collaborate in a network, since their political and geographical climates are similar. They meet monthly.
– Fab Lab is a strong driving force for creating new projects in Halland. We want them to be community development projects, and not end up being just a report in a journal, says Martin Bergman, head of Fab Lab’s laboratory and a design engineer with a master in machine technology and industrial design, researching perceived material quality.
Fab Lab – a laboratory for converting theory into practice
– We often use Fab Lab as a tool for converting theory into practice. Here, students get a chance to develop theoretical models and visualize them, so that they’re able to understand them in a wider context, he says and adds that, “we want Fab Lab to be used for education and research, and make companies understand that they can have an important role for community development.”
According to Martin Bergman, digital production will eventually transform the industrial landscape from the ground up and affect the company’s possibilities to compete and survive. Which is why digitization is of great importance for established businesses when it comes to their possibilities for renewal, the creation of new businesses, and development of new products. This is where Fab Lab can help.
The prototype of floating colony cabins equipped with its own hydroponic cultivation was the result of another Fab Lab project.
Catfish for cleaner waters
Catfish is one of the most talked-about Fab Lab projects. It’s an underwater drone which samples the water quality in streams. The data will later be the source for efficient measures for cleaner lakes, streams and oceans. Catfish is autonomous, powered by solar cells and orientated with a GPS.
– Normally, water samples are taken from the water surface. However, heavy metals and other types of desirable data are located deeper down, depending on their weight. With its different sensors, Catfish can take samples on these kinds of depths, says Martin Bergman. He explains, “Catfish is used to detect where there’s an inflow of pollutants. Based on this, measures can be taken at the actual location where it’s needed, for example with a sewage treatment system. This is a smart way of sampling water, and it hasn’t been possible before,” he says.
For Fab Lab, the Catfish project is a prime example of an interdisciplinary project where a wide variety of competences are needed to succeed, such as electric engineers, design engineers, and communicators, as well as the administration of applications for different permissions.
Halmstad – an innovation hub
Fablab’s principal focus is research and development in Sweden, supported with funding by the Swedish government. Martin Bergman explains that typical research areas involve materials design, pedagogy, and 3D tools.
– When it comes to creating new projects, we’re a strong force. After this, investors are needed, but most of the time the main part of the funding comes from the school. At times, the projects are co-funded by several investors, usually when there’s a possibility for community development.
It’s no wonder Halmstad University is housing Fab Lab. The region wishes Halmstad to be a type of hub for technology and innovation in community development.
– There’s a strong driving force and intention that the whole region transforms into this type of hub, and not just Halmstad. It will start here on campus, and then others will take it far and beyond, says Martin Bergman.