The Fab Lab Siegen
The Fab Lab Siegen is an interdisciplinary (creative) workshop at the University of Siegen that is open to everyone and focuses on collaborative work and experimentation with the fabrication of (almost) any object. Fab Labs (Fabrication Laboratories, ger. Fabrikationslabore) are thus intended to be useful to people – regardless of expertise, education and background – to be able to plan and implement projects in exchange and collaboration with others. Exactly these possibilities of exchange, sharing of knowledge as well as the community are by far the most important offers and goals of such a lab, of which there are now hundreds worldwide. Fab labs are closely related to hackspaces and makerspaces or, more generally, innovation hubs, and are also linked to the maker culture that has been increasingly discussed in the media recently, which is also about do-it-yourself and the creative use of technology.
We, the Fab Lab Siegen, as part of the University of Siegen, pursue the overarching goal of contributing to a humane future and taking responsibility for people, society and technology. We are a real lab and an open workshop to touch and experience.
Our contribution to achieving this desirable vision:
- We provide a safe space to experiment.
- We conduct research with ethical, legal and social implications in mind.
- We treat people and resources with respect.
- We encourage curiosity and creativity.
- We create space for personal development.
- We provide breeding ground for a sustainable and diverse society.
- We enable low-threshold participation in technological, social and scientific developments.
- We democratize access to technology and knowledge about it.
- We impart knowledge and are a place for cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange.
- We bring people, university and industry together.
The Fab Lab Siegen is equipped with numerous devices such as various 3D printers, laser cutters or CNC milling machines, but also hand tools, electric tools and other tools, sewing machines, cutting plotters, electrotechnical equipment as well as different materials, components and parts.
The use of the lab is currently free of charge, but (material) donations and the like are very welcome. The most valuable currency for us is knowledge – please share your experiences with the community and also remember to send us info (e.g. photos) of your projects.
For example, you can give a (lightning/short) talk about your current project. Maybe your project is not finished yet, but you would like to get feedback on how your project is appreciated by others or you are looking for collaborators? Or did you just learn how to properly use a 3D printer or laser cutter and want to teach others how to do the same? Maybe a small workshop is the right thing? As we all know, knowledge becomes more when it is shared. This helps everyone so that even cooler, wackier ideas can become reality.
Fab Lab Siegen is intended to be an infrastructure for everyone who is interested in using it, actively helping to shape it, offering events or accompanying activities.
However, setting up and legally structuring such a lab at a (German) university is uncharted territory, non-trivial and costly. For this reason, the Lab was slowly developed and, in addition to numerous moves (from Haardter Berg to the former city hospital to a vacant lot at Herrengarten), more and more public experimental teaching events, collaborations with other organizations and projects, workshops, lectures, and similar took place. The community is also growing steadily, and since 2016 Open Lab has been held as a regular format in which all interested people can use the Lab. Since 2018, there is permanent staff assigned to the Fab Lab.
There is a reason for talking about Fab Lab, or laboratory, because it is not only (new) technologies that are being experimented with, but also, and more importantly, new use cases and users. Activities in the Fab Lab therefore also require some rules for safety reasons, to be found in the Lab Rules.
A Fab Lab requires location, equipment, and most importantly, many, many hours of work. Our partners actively support us, especially in terms of location and equipment. We would like to thank in particular iSchool Siegen, the Commission for Quality Improvement in Studies and Teaching, the Dean’s Office and the Faculty Council of Faculty III, the Siegener Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Altstadt, Sparkasse Siegen, the City of Siegen, the district and, above all, our colorful, diverse and creative users.