+49 (0) 421 9600-10
23 August 2017 - Jann Raveling

Give 3D printing a try – everyone can explore Industry 4.0 technologies at FabLab Bremen

Digital/Industry 4.0
3D printers, laser cutters and microcontrollers – getting to grips with digitalisation

FabLab Bremen’s two levels provide plenty of space
FabLab Bremen’s two levels provide plenty of space © WFB/Raveling

FabLab Bremen combines workshop and computer lab. Along one side there are tool boxes, metal rails, screws, nails and heavy machinery, and along the other there are laptops, 3D printers, circuit boards and LEDs. A creative space for experimenters and makers – inventors for the digital age.


Just like Antje Moebus, one of the founders of FabLab Bremen and a driving force behind the project. “I’m excited by the variety of options on offer at FabLab. At the moment I’m particularly interested in programming with a Calliope board,” says Moebus, a sociologist working in the field of digital media in education at the University of Bremen. A Calliope board is a single-board computer that is controlled using a simple software interface. It is a great tool for learning how to write programs, and that is why Moebus runs workshops for primary school children.

Antje Moebus holding an intricate, 3D-printed hare
Antje Moebus holding an intricate, 3D-printed hare © WFB/Ravelng

FabLabs turns consumers into manufacturers

Every Monday, Moebus welcomes visitors to the OpenLabDays as they make their way up to the first floor of the old post office building in Bremen. The OpenLabDay is just like an open house – anyone is welcome to watch, learn and try for themselves. And that is the thinking behind the whole FabLab idea: “It’s a ‘fabrication laboratory’ where anyone can use the new digital technologies to become a manufacturer. We help people to come up with ideas, with designing and developing them, and with turning them into a reality,” says Moebus. The idea of miniature factories originated in the US. The Bremen association was founded in 2013 and moved to its current location near the main train station in 2016 after three years based at the University of Bremen.

Give your creativity free rein

Moebus and a community of almost 60 enthusiastic tinkerers have filled the laboratory with plenty of kit. The well-lit, spacious premises house 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering areas, a CNC router, a vinyl cutter and a sewing machine for conductive yarns. At the moment, they are assembling four further 3D printers, which have been designed by a local engineer – digitalisation made in Bremen. 3D printers are a key technology of Industry 4.0, as they allow the custom manufacture of single items. Every piece is different and unique. “These technologies are changing our economy, and with it our lives. Anyone can come and try them at FabLab, there’s no need to be wary of them. We want to get people excited about technology,” Moebus explains.

Two Ultimaker 3D printers let you give your imagination free rein
Two Ultimaker 3D printers let you give your imagination free rein © WFB/Raveling

All age groups are welcome

People of all ages and from all walks of life have visited FabLab. Groups of school children regularly visit and learn about printing and programming from a relatively early age. At the 2017 Girls Day, for example, 22 school girls designed furniture for a miniature model house on the computer and then printed it right there. Masters students can manufacture parts for their theses, architects can design models, skilled tradespeople and engineers can discover more about this new technology, and start-ups can work on prototypes of their ideas. “This interdisciplinary mix is FabLab’s strength. Members share expertise, the Mercedes engineer helps the design student and learns about design at the same time. This is how we deliver education for digitalisation in a hands-on way,” explains Bernard Robben, research fellow and co-founder of the association. Like Antje Moebus, Robben is part of the digital media in education working group at the University of Bremen – FabLab was established in close partnership with the working group.

A laser-cut cityscape
A laser-cut cityscape © WFB/Raveling

FabLab relies on volunteers

Both Moebus and Robben work as volunteers for FabLab, as do all members who organise workshops or help out on OpenLabDay. The association is funded by membership subscriptions, grants and commissions for work. The initial purchase of equipment was funded by Bremeninvest, among others, to provide small and medium-sized companies with easy access to new technologies. FabLab also collaborates with initiatives such as kraftwerk city accelerator, a business incubator supporting young Bremen start-ups that has moved into the floor above FabLab. This has allowed FabLab to establish a good network in Bremen. “We are facilitators between the creative economy, industry, education and science and research. We enable dialogue between all parties in a playful way, and we approach our task with plenty of curiosity and enthusiasm,” says Robben. He and the FabLab Bremen team plan to expand their offering, organise more workshops and extend the opening hours in the future. So that everybody can easily join the digital revolution.


FabLab Bremen’s OpenLabDay runs every Monday from 6pm to 9pm. Contact FabLab to find out about other opening times: info@fablab-bremen.org or call +49 (0)421 6967 9370

http://fablab-bremen.org/


There are many other companies and research institutes in Bremen that work with 3D printing. You can find an overview in our article on how 3D printing made in Bremen is revolutionising our manufacturing technology (in German).

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BREXIT: Future tax implications for international businesses

Companies wishing to access the European market should be careful about their choice of location. Brexit could result in significantly higher financial and tax burdens for UK-based companies. Under these circumstances, setting up a base on the continent might be a better option. Find out what challenges companies will be facing.

Investing in Bremen
30 May 2017
Leela Cotton – sustained success through sustainability

Environmentally friendly manufacturing and ethical standards are the principles on which the fair trade clothing sector is based. Leela Cotton, a successful German-Turkish textile company, produces clothes for children and adults that are not only stylish, but also make a positive contribution to the environment in the way they are manufactured.

Investing in Bremen
23 May 2017
Seven good reasons to base your IT business in Bremen

Why have so many IT companies chosen to establish themselves in Bremen? We asked five key business figures and researchers from various organisations to tell us what makes the city such an attractive location for the IT sector.

Investing in Bremen
18 May 2017
Full-colour 3D images under water

3D imaging with millimetre accuracy for underwater industrial activities and deep sea exploration – company founder Jakob Schwendner has a very clear goal. The first prototype of a camera with brand new sensor technology was built in Canada and presented to industry professionals at the Ocean Business conference in Southampton, United Kingdom, in April.

Investing in Bremen
16 May 2017
Innovative Logistics at the Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate

The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is a successful business park that is currently undergoing expansion. Several major logistics companies have based themselves here, developing increasingly sophisticated processes that aim to optimise just-in-sequence production for the automotive industry.

Science
11 May 2017
Studying and researching in Bremen – a success story

Of all the states in Germany, Bremen has the highest density of major research institutions in relation to its population – a fact that also benefits those who study there. It offers a range of international education opportunities for prospective academics with strong practical relevance and research activities that span a diverse range of fields.

Investing in Bremen
9 May 2017
AlfaNet: The Bremen-based company that brings Taiwanese display screens to Europe

Weatherproof displays for transport services, and screens that don’t produce glare in bright sunlight – these are just some of the devices provided by AlfaNet Computer und Electronic Handels GmbH, a Bremen-based company founded nearly 25 years ago by Thomas Lie.

Investing in Bremen
4 May 2017
Chinese business people get to grips with vehicles made in Bremen

They came, they saw, they marvelled – Chinese business people in Bremen visited the Mercedes-Benz plant and were surprised to find that an automotive manufacturer with a vast robot workforce was also Bremen’s largest employer, with just under 13,000 (human) employees. But where do they all work?

Investing in Bremen
2 May 2017
ACSK Clothing: The cosmopolitan clothing company taking a stand against fast fashion

Three continents, four countries, and Bremen at the centre of it all – a start-up could hardly be more international. The young entrepreneurs Ahmed Cheema and Stefan Kuzmanovski want to make sustainable manufacturing and the use of ethically sourced materials standard practice.

Digital/Industry 4.0
20 April 2017
This 3D metal printing plant manufactures titanium and aluminium components in Bremen

Lighter, more bespoke and more intricate: for companies open to new ideas in manufacturing and construction, metal parts produced by 3D printers present an economic alternative to conventional die cutting, rolling and milling. Leading the way is Materialise, a company with its own metal printing plant in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
18 April 2017
Bremen's twin city: from one port to another

Bremen has been twinned with the city of Dalian in north-eastern China since 1985. Find out more about the similarities and connections that the two port cities share.

Quality of life
13 April 2017
German champions from the city on the Weser

Up to now, cricket has been very much a niche sport in Germany. But that is changing. In Bremen, a woman is calling the shots in this male-dominated sport – with great success. Her men’s team are the 2016 German cricket champions.

Digital/Industry 4.0
5 April 2017
Vision of the future – order picking with smart glasses and wearable computing solutions from Ubimax

Wearables and smart glasses provide hands-free digital information. A visit at the headquarter of the global market leader for Industrial Wearable Computing, Ubimax in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
4 April 2017
At a glance: direct investments in Bremen in 2016

In 2016, companies invested a combined total of €229 million in the federal state of Bremen. Where do these investors hail from, how many jobs have they created, and what is their line of business? Our infographics provide an overview.

BREXIT
23 March 2017
Brexit and its consequences for the transport industry

How will the UK’s impending exit from the EU affect the logistics sector? Günther Hörbst, Managing Director of the Via Bremen Foundation, on the economic links between the United Kingdom and the EU

Investing in Bremen
21 March 2017
Forging a link between Bremen and China

The Chinese designer Haoyu Li combines his German design degree with Chinese business acumen. Now he is opening a design office in Bremen, with the aim of making it easier for Chinese products to enter the German market, and to bring German brands to China.

BREXIT
14 March 2017
Last orders before closing time: Start your own business now before Brexit kicks in

Keen to remain in Bremen? Then why not combine residency status with self-employment? Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service knows all about how a start-up could allow British citizens to beat Brexit and kill two birds with one stone.

Investing in Bremen
9 March 2017
Successes, comebacks and newcomers: Bremen holds the key to the gates of Europe

The high standard of logistical expertise in the state of Bremen functioned as a key to open doors, making this a successful year for Bremen. 2016’s successes were marked by automobiles and steel, welcoming ambitious international companies.

Brexit
7 March 2017
"We have the right solution for any enquiry" – why it's so easy for international companies to set up business in Bremen

From initial idea to successful move. Andreas Gerber, who heads up the international relocation team at Bremeninvest, knows what international companies need to do to set up a business in Bremen. Here he tells us about the most important steps on the ...

Automotive Industries
28 February 2017
The biggest car park in Europe

BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.

Creative / Media
23 February 2017
Co-working in Bremen - nine places where you can find a new office community

Going it alone is rarely an easy option. Co-working enables entrepreneurs to work in a shared space and experience the benefits and synergies that come with this. There are nine co-working spaces in Bremen – which one is right for you?

Welcome Service
21 February 2017
Cutting through red tape with our welcome service

Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.

Investing in Bremen
16 February 2017
World Trade Center Bremen: everything under one roof

Geographical distance and cultural differences make it hard to relocate or start up a company in another country. Luckily, help is at hand from the team at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Bremen. They'll do all they can to make your international business a success.

Aerospace
15 February 2017
"Bremen has everything that a hub for the space industry needs"

In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.

Aerospace
14 February 2017
Take-off for Bremen: what makes the city a hub for aerospace expertise

The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.

Aerospace
31 January 2017
“50 per cent of the exhibition space has already been reserved”

In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.

Automotive Industries
27 January 2017
E-mobility: why electric vehicles are on the up in Bremen

The Bremen region has long been a pioneer in electric mobility and is now set to enjoy further success after Mercedes-Benz and Borgward announced that they will be making electric vehicles in the city.

Automotive Industries
24 January 2017
Five reasons why Bremen is a leading automotive hub

Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
21 December 2016
Sigma Textil GmbH: how Muhammad-Farhan Aslam turned his father's business around

Sometimes you have to learn from other people's mistakes and trust your instincts. That is what Muhammad-Farhan Aslam believed when he took over his father's business. Not only did he change the business model, but he also shelved his own plans to move to England. Instead he stayed in Bremen. And it turned out to be one of many good decisions that he made.

Maritime economy and logistics
14 December 2016
The Cargo Distribution Centre (GVZ) in Bremen: a logistics hub with a bright future

For 30 years, the Cargo Distribution Centre in Bremen has delivered excellence – as an investment location and a logistics hub. Today more than 150 companies employing approximately 8,000 people are based at the site. It offers direct links to the ports, the autobahn and has a close proximity to Bremen City Airport.

Investing in Bremen
7 December 2016
Bremeninvest guidelines for foreign nationals setting up businesses in Bremen

Language barriers, unfamiliar legal and fiscal systems, qualifications that need to be recognised. There are many additional hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome when setting up a new branch or a new company in a different country. Bremeninvest is committed to offering you advice and support from the outset.

Investing in Bremen
1 December 2016
Innovative spinal surgery company NuVasive finds success in Bremen

You might expect a Bremen-based company specialising in innovative instruments and implants for spinal surgery to be located at the Technology Park. But you'd be wrong. NuVasive Germany GmbH has its head office at the heart of the city centre next to Wallanlagen Park. Now employing a team of 44 people, the company generates annual revenue of more than €10 million – a figure that looks set to rise.

Success stories
30 November 2016
Chinese LED business finds success in Bremen

David Zhou came to Bremen three years ago with the aim of conquering the market – and a new continent – with LEDs. He started his business selling LED lighting and electronics at the World Trade Centre at Bremen Airport and has gradually built it up over the past few years.

EcoMaT / lightweight construction
25 November 2016
Aircraft construction at close quarters – behind the scenes at the Airbus Group

What makes an aircraft fly? You don't have to be an aerospace expert to be fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes at one of the largest aircraft construction companies in the world. The Airbus Group in Bremen turns the dream of flying into ...