Officially inaugurated in September 2017, FABLAB Biel/Bienne is a unique, fully equipped innovation space for private individuals, start-ups and SMEs. They can use the facility to simply share ideas, or implement their own projects with prototypes or small production runs.

Fab labs, short for fabrication laboratories, are workshops that are open to anyone who wants to produce one-offs and prototypes using modern industrial production processes. FABLAB Biel/Bienne is a facility where anyone can develop and manufacture prototypes and small production runs to a professional standard. With 300 m2 of laboratory space and another 300 m2 for coworking, it is the largest and most modern of its kind in Switzerland.

An impressive machine pool

“We are exceptionally well equipped, with ten different 3D printers, various 3D scanners, a laser cutter, a coworking space and plenty of room for events. We also have a digitization cabin for converting products or even people into digital data for 3D printing,” explains Felix Kunz, CEO of Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIP BB), where FABLAB is located. In addition, all FABLAB customers get access to an electronic and a mechanical workshop. Besides the equipment that is available to all users, there are other more specialized machines for use by industrial customers. For example, the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research of the University of Bern commissioned FABLAB to produce models of aneurysms on its 3D printers. These 3D printed models are used by surgeons at Bern Inselspital to run through a particularly tricky procedure 1:1 before the actual operation.

World record to mark the opening

The new premises of FABLAB Biel/Bienne were inaugurated in September 2017 with a spectacular Guinness World Record. After weeks of experimenting and 3D printers working day and night, the FABLAB team managed to build the world’s longest train made of 3D printed wagons. The locomotive – a model of the legendary Gotthard CE 6/8 crocodile – pulls a massive 55 wagons, 14 more than the train of the last record holder from France. Under the rules for the Guinness World Record attempt, all the wagons had to be produced individually using 3D printing only, the model train had to consist of a locomotive and wagons, and it had to travel a distance of at least ten meters. Each of the winning train’s wagons took at least 15 hours to print.

Article adapted from bernecapitalarea – Edition 1/2018.