Is Lake Geneva ready to make stuff again?

Globalisation only flows one way. At least that’s the experience of the last 30 years. Manufacturing fled Europe, looking for more and more economies of scale, making millions of identical objects for the cheapest possible price.

Mass manufacturing has changed the world, but every process comes to an end. When something becomes “the only way to do things”, innovation kicks in and find a alternative.

Open Source distributed manufacturing is that alternative. New, open source technologies have reduced the costs of machinery by a factor of tens to hundreds. Things that were complicated and expensive, like accurate positioning in 3D space, have become trivially simple and ridiculously cheap. The result is that it has become much less expensive to make individual customised objects – something that mass manufacturing cannot do at all.

FabLabs are described as a place when you can make “almost anything”. We know what the things we cannot yet make are, and many of the projects in these spaces are open source machines to overcome these limitations. Just in the last two years we have seen machines for knitting clothes, printing fabrics, printing concrete, and laminating wood/carbon fibre composites, as well as DNA sequencers, projects to grow bricks, produce all sorts of energy efficient vehicles, and build your own energy efficient houses.

These projects are not developed by individual geniuses in their garages. The internet was designed as a collaborative tool, and has delivered magnificently. Local communities of people interested in making things have found each other online, and joined together to create physical spaces where they can collaborate together. These projects, in turn collaborate online in globe-spanning open source projects, creating amazing collaborative answers to problems that might not be solved in any other way.

Right now it’s not for replacing the things you can buy in the shops, more for replacing the things you cannot buy in the shops. How often have you searched and not found the thing you were looking for? Simply not been able to buy a spare part, or not found a table the right size in the right wood. Those are the sorts of things maker-spaces can produce using parametric design and shared resources.

In twenty years the very idea that you would buy something that is the same thing that any of your neighbours have will seem quaint, like Henry Ford’s “any color you like as long as it’s black”. You will be able to easily customise the object you want to suit your exact needs and have it quickly manufactured in your local fabrication centre. Or have a brand new thing designed just for you from scratch using open source tools, technologies and techniques.

Around Lake Geneva, this is a work-in-progress. On the 27th of June 2015, the makers of the Lac Leman region unified for the first time to put on the “Leman Make” Festival. At the start, we knew of two hackerspaces in the region. One year later we had dozens of local fabrication spaces involved in the festival, all of whom were making stuff right here.

Technology should be a slave, not a master. It’s time it stopped being exclusive – something for other people far away to master – came back home, and was made accessible to everyone. As children we were all taught to share, and it turns out that sharing really can change the world for the better.

So the answer to the question “is Lake Geneva ready to make stuff again?” is definitely a resounding yes. We hope you’ll join in.

The Leman Make Festival 27/28th of June

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from June 23rd, 2015:

Links for this show:

Most of the links are in French, but the vast majority of the makers at the festival speak English too (and many other languages – we’re a mixed bunch!)

The Leman Make website and Facebook group.

Local makerspaces !

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from April 14th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Post Tenebras Lab
calls itself a hackerspace, but according to this diagram is really a makerspace. fablab-makerspace-hackerspace Post Tenebras Lab is very much a community effort, designed for all sorts of technology enthusiasts to get together, share and learn. Come along to Carouge any Tuesday evening to find out if its for you! Don’t forget, PTL is kind of a secret underground lair – we don’t have a volcano yet but we’re working on it. There’s no doorbell – you have to know the secret phone number (on the home page of the website) to ring up and get the door opened.

Pangloss Labs is different. Pangloss Labs is a fablab but designed to inspire business creation. We don’t yet have a physical location but we’re in active discussions in Geneva and the Pays de Gex (for now). We have various events, including the monthly speed-networking where you can get to know the community and explain your project (if you have one) or your dreams.

Pangloss Labs – Open Innovation for Grand Geneve

Pangloss Labs is a centre of expertise in open source hardware, software and most importantly ideas and techniques.  Currently both a French association and a Swiss association, run by entrepreneurs, we hold experimental (hardware, software and social entrepreneurship) labs, and prototype innovation activities across various sectors.

For more information check out our web site.

Christmas Gadgets, the Santa Tracker

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from December 23rd, 2014:

A few links from this show:

3D Printed cookie cutters can be downloaded from thingiverse or you can design your own.  The best place to try 3D printing is your local hackerspace.

Post Tenebras Lab in Geneva has an open evening each Tuesday.

Fixme in Lausanne has an open evening each Wednesday.

FabLab La Cote in Nyon has it’s open evenings on Mondays.

The Christmas Shopper Simulator from Game in case your shopping was too easy this year

The Norad Santa Tracker

The cool magnetic levitation hoverboard

and the noisy one that you can make yourself

Ecological-FabLab in the Geneva region

Dream, Build, Repair, Learn, Share

My main project right now is the creation of an ecologicalfablablogo Fablab here in the Geneva region.

“Fab Labs give people the tools they need to create technology and make (almost) anything”

Professor Neil Gershenfeld – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Eco-Innovation is at the cutting edge of the third industrial revolution.  When you combine innovations in energy production with the open source hardware movement you create very low cost & high value technologies.

We are building a creative space to stimulate local innovation.  We dare to dream big, start small and grow fast. This has become Pangloss Labs. If you’re interested in joining us, take a look at our web site

Leman Make

In early 2014, Thomas Joubert approached me with an idea.  He wanted to know if I thought there were enough makers around Lake Geneva to put on an exhibition of making.  I didn’t know, but said “why don’t we find out?”.  We sent out an email to everywhere we could think of inviting makers to get together to see if there was interest. The first meetup was held at Post Tenebras Lab.  A few months later, when it was clear we did have enough interest, the LemanMake association was formed in Lausanne.

The LemanMake festival will be held on 27 & 28 June in Nyon, Switzerland.