Dear freshmen, we are glad you found your way to the University of Siegen. With us you can create crazy things! The following text was published with little changes in the ESE-paper of the GG LaBaMa in the winter terms 20/21..
Here could be a formal text describing what a Fab Lab is, what technologies you can find in our Fab Lab, what the Fab Lab has to do with a university and why actually “Fab Lab? But I think you are all able to type fablab-siegen.de into your browser and find out for yourself what we have to offer as Fab Lab of the University of Siegen. That’s why I’m saving you this. Just so much: The Fab Lab is an open creative lab of the university with many different machines like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills and so on. When there is not global pandemic anyone can come and do cool things.
The idea for this text came to me in the shower. I was wondering what of our pre-written text about the Lab I might send to the editors of the ESE newspaper to let first-year students know that the Fab Lab exists. And then I remembered a mail from “nanooq”, who announced that he will write a text for the Hasi for this newspaper. What the Hasi is is (presumably) in his text, which is also printed in this publication. Who nanooq is, you may never know. Or he suddenly appears in your life because you have set foot in the Siegen “scene”. Then: all the best! Well and because I already know nanooq a bit and also his texts and stories about the scene, a formal text about the interior design and the scientific orientation of the Fab Lab seemed a bit stale to me. The glittering hasi (yes the article is chosen correctly!) and nanooq’s wordiness will make the Fab Lab look old. So I’ll give it a try.
Often during your studies you will surely hear the question: “But why Siegen?”.
And you might get into trouble explaining: “Because it’s so beautifully green here!”, or “Because I can attend seminars about Harry Potter here…!”.
In my case, the Fab Lab (and a failed course of study) was more of a deciding factor. Because in a Fab Lab like this, you can expect not only certain machines, but also a certain kind of people. Cosmopolitan, colorful, creative, crazy intergalactic creatures.
One of the reasons why I decided to study in Siegen was that when I was visiting the university (yes, there are such nerds), I was led by the tutor of the HCI students at the time (HCI stands for Human Computer Interaction. What Human Computer Interaction stands for….well duckduckgo it yourself) was also led into a small lab, in which my current work colleague Marios sat engrossed bent over a microcontroller circuit. I was introduced to the space as the “Fab Lab”.
“You could do something like Marios is doing right now in your studies”, my tutor tried to get me. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Fab Lab, even outside of my studies, and experienced a lot. In the meantime, I even work there.
One of the trades we built in the Lab (the connoisseur only speaks of “Lab” [ˈlæb], the “Fab” is silent!) even made it into the daily news. A palm tree, made of bed slats and dryer exhaust hoses, sidewalk slabs, steel and quite a lot of light and electronics.
At one point, there were large quantities of bed slats in the Lab’s warehouse for this project. People from Siegen have a lot of slatted frames to give away for free, we took advantage of that (Attention: Insider tip). And these bed slats wanted to be sanded so that they could then be repainted with white paint. White paint reflects very well, so it’s good to shine spotlights on it. Later, the battens should be screwed into triangles. Several of these triangles of slightly bent bed slats screwed together form the skeleton of a palm leaf. It’s like that. If you then hang these leaves in a star shape on a metal trunk you get a span of 9 meters. In height, the palm tree brings it to four and a half meters.
After painstakingly disassembling the slats in the Hasi, we sanded down the extracted bed slats at the back entrance of the Lab using the most inefficient tools (orbital sander and sandpaper) we could find. Maybe the tool could have been used to sand down normal wood, but not the nasty coating those bed slat manufacturers had put on there.
One grinds behind the laboratory.
So we’re standing at the back entrance of the Lab in the parking lot, struggling with these bed slats. A car parks next to us. A guy we don’t know gets out. Maybe 40, slight grin on his lips. As he walks from his car to our rather sad collection of mediocre “craftsmen”, he smugly calls in our direction, “Well, do you need help?!”.
We defiantly try to ignore him in frustration. All I hear nanooq saying is “No thanks, we’ll be fine”.
“I might have what you need in the trunk,” the stranger replies.
So there’s a complete stranger who happens to have what we need in the trunk. Hm, sure.
nanooq, still a bit curious, follows him and the two come back with several cutters and grinding wheels. The sanding discs we brought with us were perfect: sandpaper arranged in a circle, stacked like flaps.
It slowly dawned on me what was going on. Past me, thank you! I had asked 1-2 hours before on the off chance in the Fab Lab Telegram group if someone had suitable tools for our action. I had not expected that strangers read along and also still feel addressed. And then just load up the trunk with tools and hit our place. It’s going well. For the remaining battens, we then needed another minute per batten. It took 10 minutes. This results in a working time reduction of 90%. Henry Ford would somersault in his grave.
The finished palm tree. The painstaking work was worth it. Creative design: Simon Budig. A project by people from Hackspace Siegen and the Lab.
The man with the cutters has been in and out of the Lab regularly (if it weren’t for this damned virus) ever since. He is now “part of the community.” And that’s what the Lab is all about. The Community. People meet, exchange ideas, pass on their knowledge, teach each other new things.
Check out our Telegram group or our news channel (also Telegram). At the moment we have a limited operation until further notice, always on Wednesdays and only for university members (as well as students). Soon we will hopefully be able to open again for everyone, so you can experience live and up close what makes the magic of a Fab Lab. We’ll put that in the Telegram group, on our website, Twitter, Facebook. You know it. Until further notice our