This year the Boot Camp for Nordic Fab Labs was held from 6th of January to 10th of January in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland. The focus of the week long event was on learning best practices from the Nordic countries fab labs and themes included education, collaboration projects, running the lab, knowledge transfer, strengthening the network, etc.
Sunday afternoon our flight left from Helsinki-Vantaa airport and head to Iceland. Already on the first day we got a taste of the fierce winds and unsteady weather conditions, that the country is known from. Vestmannaeyjar is a small island south of the mainland and you can reach it by flying or by boat. If the weather is good, you can go there quite easily with a nice 30mins ferry trip, but because of the wind, our trip changed from 30mins to not so easy 3hours. The waves were big and not everyone made the whole trip with all the food in their stomach.
Monday morning started with an introduction to the local economy in the town. Led by the fleet manager of Isfelag Vestmannaeyja, Eyþór Harðarson we had a chance to look around in the Sigurdur VE, which is one the biggest vessel in the Icelandic pelagic fleet. Eyþór told us about the importance of the fishing industry in Vestmannaeyjar and talked about Isfelag Vestmannaeyja, which owns and runs fish processing plant in Westmannaeyjar and is specialized in processing of pelagic fish: capelin, herring and mackerel.
After that, we had a chance to see a local metal workshop Thor. There Sævald Hallgrímsson and Sigursteinn Marinósson showed us 5-axis water jet cutter, CNC lathe and CNC milling machines.
The tour ended to the HS Veitur‘s Heat Pump station which is currently the second largest heat pump station in the world. The station pumps water from the ocean, heats it up with ammonia and uses it to warm the houses of the island. Ivar Atlason, engineer of the station, told us all about the process, how it works and how it was built.
After the tour, our host Frosti Gislason gave us a welcome speech in Fab Lab Westmannaeyjar, went through schedule and everyone got a chance to introduce themselves and speak a little about their labs. We had people from Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, England and Japan. Overall, there were 30 of us. In the afternoon, we had workshops about advanced maintenance for CNC router, talks about Fab Lab programs and a sneak peek to the upcoming workshops of the week.
Tuesday morning started with an interesting creativity workshop held by Helle Hauskov from Fab Lab Denmark. Participants where split into groups and had to create a chair in a short period of time from different materials and with different instructions.
Professor Edmund Harriss held a lecture about Mathematics in Fab Labs and making and later in the afternoon held a workshop creating different shapes using mathematical software.
Jón Þór Sigurðsson also held a workshop in CAD and CAM part of Autodesk Fusion 360 and introduced methods using Fusion 360 with CNC milling machine. Takuma Oami from Japan held a workshop in using Sonic Pi software to create music with code. Jani Ylioja held a workshop about open source documentation software for the Fab Labs, for easier documentation of your projects. New members of the Fab Lab network were introduced the Fab Lab network and the machines in the lab.
Beside this the participants created different projects using different types of machines for making, including lasercutter, 3D scanners, sewing machines, 3D printers, and more and more.
On the third day of the bootcamp, there was the annual meeting of the Nordic Fab Lab Network where the board was thanked for their job, and Jani Ylioja from Finland got special thanks as the chairperson. After this, Frosti Gislason from Iceland was elected as a new chairperson of the Nordic Fab Lab network for 2020. Other members of the board are from Denmark: Rasmus Fangel Vestergaard (vice Chairperson), from Sweden: Sam Edlund, from Norway: Haakon Karlsen, from Faroe Islands: Jóannes Djurhuus, from Finland: Jani Ylioja, from Greenland: Susanne Høegh.
We discussed several collaborative projects between the Nordic Fab Labs and within the Nordic region, in the Arctic, in Europe, intercontinental and national collaboration. Our interest from Raseko was in Erasmus+ mobility for our students. We came up with an idea to build a database of Nordic Fab Labs and their facilities. This would include, which parts of the labs are already functioning well, what could be better and also knowledge about living costs, etc. This database would also have a section about what area/field of students Fab Labs would like to have as interns if there is something specific that labs would like to improve. It could also have a section about projects made during mobility/internship with documents so we could learn from them.
We also contacted Professor Neil Gershenfeld from MIT and the Founder of the Fab Lab networks online and discussed Fab Academy and international collaboration.
Wednesday afternoon like all the other ones was also filled with different workshops. How to use Fusion 360 CAD/CAM with metal CNC milling machines and lathes that were led by Sigursteinn Marinósson and Friðbjörn Benónýsson.
Hans Peter Haastrup-Nielsen taught how to design circuit boards in KiCad and the basics of electronics.
Takuma Oami showed how to use microbit and python programming and Magnús Magnússon showed how to stream events with OBS program.
In the afternoon part of the group also had a guided tour to see the landscape and hear interesting stories about the island.
On the fourth day of the bootcamp the focus was on education. We discussed several educational paths within the Fab Lab network, including Fab Academy, Fabricademy- Textile Academy, Bio Academany, Fab Academy X and also several educational paths within the Nordic Fab Lab Network.
Smári McCarthy talked about industrial policy for countries and the important role of Fab Labs in it and JJ Lennert-Sandgreen held an interesting talk about Greenland and the future of it.
Amy Beaulisch was talking about different projects you can do with kids including wide range in machine using and crafts too.
Hafey Viktoría Hallgrímsdóttir and Þóra Óskarsdóttir held a Mycelium workshop, how to make biodegradable “styrofoam”.
Thursday was also the day for pitches of the next boot camp locations and Denmark was elected.
In the afternoon, we had open hours and invited the public to come and participate. Short lightning talks were held about the workshops we had during the week and ongoing projects were also introduced.
Thursday evening we all get together and had a dinner party in the scout cabin. The weather was still snowy, windy and cold, but inside the cabin we enjoyed good icelandic traditional food and of course the best company of our new friends from Fab Labs around the world.
We could have spend another week learning new things, having interesting discussions and enjoying beautiful landscapes, but unfortunately we had to start planning our trip back home. Because of the fickle weather we played it safe and took the ferry very early on Friday morning. This was a good idea, because the weather got a lot worse in the afternoon. The boat trip was as bad as on the way to the island, but this time we were prepared better with travel sickness pills.
In our way to Reykjavik we stopped at Fab Lab Selfoss were the lab manager Magnus gave us a quick tour. Sooner than we thought, we had to hurry and forget our plans to see wonderful nature of Iceland, because the weather was getting worst and they were closing roads to Reykjavik.
If you think about our trip from the tourist point of view, it wasn’t maybe the best time of the year, but on the other side we saw how quickly Icelandic weather can change, how hard the wind can be and also how beautiful it is anyway.
Nordic Fab Lab bootcamp was intensive, interesting and we learned a lot. People were from very different backrounds, but all shared same interest in developing Fab Labs and sharing knowledge which made us all a tight group. We want to thank our host Frosti Gislason for taking a good care of us and the whole group for making the week so special. See you next year in Denmark!
Best regards, Mirkka and Jenni