The University’s Fab Lab attracted Nordic neighbours

Fab Lab Halmstad, the University's manufacturing laboratory and prototype workshop, hosted this year's edition of Fab Lab Nordic Boot Camp. During one week, Fab Lab participants from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands gathered at Halmstad University to network, solve problems, transfer knowledge and, above all, strengthen the Nordic co-operation.

“Here, visitors get access to skills, materials and the advanced technology that allows anyone to create almost anything.”

Joakim Wahlberg, research engineer

Fab Lab – a global network

Fab Lab, or Fabrication Laboratory, is one of the University's state-of-the-art laboratories and collaboration arenas, and part of a global network that spans over 100 countries. However, not all labs belong to higher education institutions – some labs are private while others are state-owned or linked to libraries.

“The University's Fab Lab is for students, researchers, the public and companies. Here, visitors get access to skills, materials and the advanced technology that allows anyone to create almost anything”, says research engineer Joakim Wahlberg.

Fab Lab Halmstad is seen as one of the better equipped Fab Labs, a fact that engaged the Nordic visitors to test equipment they had never seen before.

Joakim Wahlberg is a research engineer at the University's Fab Lab.

3-D printing for survival

The puffin, which nests on both sides of the North Atlantic, is declining sharply in number. 3D models of the endangered species can be a way to increase its odds of survival. Research indicates that if you place artificial birds in an area, it can attract other birds, which will then hopefully stay and reproduce.

“We have started discussing how we can replicate the puffin in a fast, inexpensive and easy way. A high-resolution digital scanner enables experiments with different manufacturing methods. I am very impressed with the advanced equipment in the lab, and the results I have managed to achieve thanks to it”, says Lars Eriksen Høeg from Fab Lab Spinderihallerne in Denmark.

Lars Eriksen Høeg 3D-printed a puffin bird by first scanning the original in the 3D scanner, editing color and shape in a computer program, and finally printing the bird in the HP 3D printer.

The 3D printer can be used for small and large objects. Here, a participant has 3D-printed a new strap holder for his watch.

Mikael Kinnander, from Fisksätra folklabb, took the opportunity to print a tripod for his synthesizer. The two parts, which are placed on each side of the synthesizer, are made of acrylic. The colors are printed with a UV printer and the motif is by the artist Alex Gray.

Using a laser cutter, the participants engraved a group photo on a piece of linoleum floor. An even layer of paint was applied to the engraved piece, which in turn was printed on paper.

The result is a homemade printing press. The group photo was taken of all participants of Fab Lab Nordic Boot Camp 2022.

A week of organized chaos

Joakim Wahlberg thinks that Nordic co-operation is important, and he is very proud that the University hosted this year's boot camp. He believes that the network would not have been so successful without the people who support each other – both in the lab and between the labs:

“We have been an active part of Nordic co-operation for a long time. We have previously been to boot camps in the Faroe Islands, Denmark and Iceland.”

The goal of the annual tradition is to support each other in areas where there is less knowledge, to exchange knowledge about equipment, and to get inspiration and ideas for further development. Through the exchange of knowledge, they hope to get ideas for equipment they can invest in. All workshops during the week were arranged by all participants.

“Everyone gets the freedom to do what they want. It is incredibly fun to organize, but chaotic to keep together”, Joakim Wahlberg explains and laughs.

The Nordic countries meet the city with three hearts

During the camp, the visitors also got a tour of Halmstad. Among other things, they got to visit the coffee roastery I’m Coffe to see how innovation meets coffee, the company 3Dialog which manufactures 3D printers and Halmstad Brygghus. The week ended with a dinner at Magasinet in Slottsmöllan.

The Nordic co-operation is led by a board, where each country is represented by one person. The board is new and has been active for three years. The chairman is Sam Edlund, who is a final year student in the Master's program in Industrial Management and Innovation at Halmstad University:

“We try to plan out the added value for our members and figure out how to do it as well as possible. We have struggled with the bureaucracy, but now we have started to initiate projects and financing.”

Sam Edlund is a Master's student in Industrial Management and Innovation and chairman of Fab Lab Nordic.

This year's edition of Fab Lab Nordic Boot Camp was hosted on site on campus, something that has been long awaited during the pandemic.

“I have been to the global conferences in France and Egypt, but I think the Nordic labs are special. We have a unique way of directing things and a great attitude towards each other. We are welded together and do everything to make the lab even better so that we can contribute to making research, companies, and society better”, says Joakim Wahlberg.

Text: Katarina Tran
Photo: Ida Fridvall