European project PHABLABS 4.0
Photonics enhanced Fab Labs supporting the next digital revolution
PHABLABS 4.0 combines two major trends into one powerful and ambitious innovation pathway for digitization of European industry: on the one hand the growing awareness of photonics as an important innovation driver and a key enabling technology* (KET) towards a better society, and on the other hand the exploding network of vibrant Fab Labs where next- generation practical skills-based learning using KETs is core but where photonics is currently lacking.
Photonics is the science and technology that exploits the unique properties of light to produce innovative, durable, energy friendly products that improve the quality of our lives. Today photonics is an essential technology in areas such as energy, healthcare, communications, manufacturing and culture.
A Fab Lab, or fabrication laboratory is a makerspace equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC milling machines, electronics and all kinds of consumables where you can make almost anything. A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping facility for innovation, experimentation and invention, providing stimulus for modern technology-based entrepreneurship at a local level. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, and to invent.
The aim of PHABLABS 4.0 is to permanently integrate photonics into Fab Labs and Makerslabs. Experts from 13 European photonics institutes and STEM-orientated organizations as well as Fab Lab stakeholders will develop a comprehensive suite of 33 photonics workshops, 11 photonics challenger projects and photonic toolkits to enhance Fab Labs and Makerslabs with photonic activities aimed at 3 specific target groups: young minds (age 10-14), students (age 15-18) and young professionals and technicians (age 18+). These activities will be extensively tested in 14 existing Fab Labs with the purpose of rolling them out to the entire growing network of European Fab Labs as a proven model at the end of the project. They will stimulate hands-on design, fabrication, experiments and building of innovative systems with photonics and in this way nurture skills for the next digital revolution of the twenty-first century. Another goal is to improve the qualifications of workers and to raise the innovation ability of players and regions.
Steinbeis 2i GmbH together with Fab Lab Karlsruhe is in charge of developing the pilot workshop “Photonics meets new structures” as well as to create a challenger project about the collection of solar energy. Those activities will be implemented in Karlsruhe in 2017, before they will be rolled out to further Fab Labs. Further photonics workshops and challenger project topics prepared by other project partners will also be tested in Karlsruhe later on in the course of the project.
Project Duration: 01.12.2016 – 31.05.2019
Participating countries: Belgium, Germany, France, GB, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Austria, Spain
* Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are a group of six technologies that have a wide range of product applications such as developing low carbon energy technologies, improving energy and resource efficiency, and creating new medical products. They have huge potential to fuel economic growth and provide jobs. KETs comprise micro and nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, advanced materials, photonics, and advanced manufacturing technologies, as defined by the European Commission.