Traditional large production plants or small enterprises, lengthy production processes or expensive products made to customer specifications. This is the kind of economy we know, and… which we should gradually forget about. The process might be facilitated by so called fablabs, like the one based in Bielsko-Biała.
In fablabs, or fabrication laboratories, prospective clients can find professional equipment and know-how. Professional equipment, such as lathes, 3D printers and large timber milling machines, is there to help implement virtually any project. This makes prototyping shorter and cheaper, and it facilitates production. These benefits are available through international links of a consortium established by 9 European fabrication centres.
FabLabNet, or a network of fabrication laboratories, is a platform that fosters the manufacturing of products.
"For instance, the Bielsko-Biała Laboratory has specialized in 3D printing. However, when our prototypes require the use of metal printing, we assign the task to our German or Czech partners who operate dedicated equipment. Such partnerships help us to expedite the implementation of every project," explains Jan Sienkiewicz, a commercial agent at ARR SA.
European School of Makers
The Bielsko-Biała fablab launched the European School of Makers. The school offers, among other things, free workshops on drone construction or short presentations at schools to introduce 3D printing to students. The Bielsko-Biała fablab has already trained over 600 students!
Although the EU support for FabLabNet has expired, employees still set themselves setting ambitious targets.
"We would like to continue to foster the transition from analogue to digital processes. We also provide training and enhance digital skills among members of various groups, from primary school students to senior citizens. We put greater emphasis on technological maturity audits in companies in view of digitalization implemented by them. Only such mature structures stand can lead the technological revolution, that is currently underway," explained Jan Sienkiewicz.
A virtual plant
Interreg Central Europe
European Regional Development Fund
approx. EUR 2.7 million
EUR 2.2 million from the European Regional Development Fund