‘Digital Fabrication’ is well on its way to revolutionising our world and the global economy. But what about here in the Lower Rhine? Our “zdi-FabLab @ school” project is focused on just that, namely making new fabrication technologies like 3D printing, 3D scanning or laser cutting available in our region. To that end, the Faculty of Communication and Environment at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and its zdi Centre Kamp-Lintfort have adapted a globally-connected concept that was originally developed by the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT): the FabLab.
In our ultra-modern, hands-on FabLab facility in Kamp-Lintfort, businesses, entrepreneurs and pupils from around the region have the opportunity to learn about the latest in modern fabrication technology. With over 600 m2 of useable area, the FabLab Kamp-Lintfort offers not only the space to bring ideas to life, but also the machines that can do it. In fact, the zdi Centre Kamp-Lintfort takes things a step further, for example with free workshops for pupils on how to construct their own 3D printer. Kids learn about all the important steps and components needed to set up and run a personal 3D printer: from stepper motors, to integrating an Arduino microcontroller kit, to configuring the printer’s operating software. The completed printers are then donated to pupils’ schools for use as teaching tools in a variety of different contexts.
The latent potential of additive production processes is immense, stretching from the construction of prototypes to the manufacturing of the final product. They allow new products to be developed and manufactured better and faster across a broad range of industry sectors and uses: construction material production, 3D printing on demand for private customers, and integrating additively produced components into new products. And this is only just the beginning; in the coming years, we can expect to see a plethora of new applications, processes and materials, as well as a broader distribution of new technologies.
That’s why 3D printing is critical to ensuring our region remains innovative, creative and competitive in the future. By imparting key qualifications in 3D technology to current students and specialists (both in training and active in a career), we are helping them to adapt flexibly to future changes in their careers in a way that benefits the worker, the company and society as a whole. By reaching out to kids in regional schools, we are planting seeds of encouragement that will produce future scientists and engineers. Finally, by working together with the Niederrhein Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Economic Development Agency - Wesel District (EAW), the wir4 business development initiative and the Regional Agency of the Lower Rhine (Regionalagentur Niederrhein), we can offer now and in the future a range of workshops and roadshows on 3D printing for regional companies and entrepreneurs.
The project “zdi-FabLab @ school” received financial support through the NRW operational programme “Regional Competitiveness and Employment 2007-2013”, which itself was co-financed by the European Union via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Please find more information at http://fablab.hochschule-rhein-waal.de