NPR Visits Berlin’s FabLab

(NPR Berlin)  NPR’s Jörg Bennet Wimalasena visited Berlin’s FabLab in Mitte to see if it was possible to print a 3D version of the NPR logo. Wimalasena said what he really wanted to know was if 3D printing would enable us to manufacture our own products locally, independently, and at an affordable price — versus today’s manufacturing model of mindless assembly lines, huge factories and smoking chimneys.

Wimalasena reported that he found the possibilities of localized manufacturing apparent inside Berlin’s FabLab. A table full of printed rack wheels and small devices illustrated the great variety of plastic products one can manufacture with modern manufacturing tools, while the designers are continually coming up with new ideas.

Within minutes, FabLab founder Wolf Jeschonnek had turned the 2D NPR logo from a USB stick into a 3D model. Wimalasena said that while it was fun to have a 3D-printed NPR logo, he saw that the broader implications of 3D printing technology were far greater than the production of simple items. He concluded that the new technologies will indeed enable individuals to reclaim some of the manufacturing independence that was lost with the beginning of industrialization.

More than 150 private designers currently work on projects in the lab, which has been an immediate success. Volunteers help offer tutorials on 3D printing, designing, building a 3D printer and more. All machines can be used by private individuals for a fee, and Friday nights are completely free of charge.