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FABmonday ep. 3 | Memories from Fablab Torino for a maker Christmas

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Christmas 2020 will be a different one for all of us, even for the makers of Fablab Torino, where for the first time the traditional Christmas party cannot be organized. But there is a way to be together: we asked the makers of Fablab to tell us about their best, funniest, or most absurd memories involving FablabTO… What we got is a slice of life as a maker, in all of its most unexpected aspects, but above all the portrait of a united community, full of inventiveness and with a strong desire to work and be together.

Federico Vanzati – Former historical member

Well, I remember the first Christmas at Fablab: with maker Franco Magni, we came up with a Christmas workshop to build electronic necklaces. There was a 7×5 pixel led matrix and it was all soldered “dead bug”, that is, combining the components together without a printed circuit. It had a button to select different images and animations: skull, beating heart, flame … And then at some point among the participants Boosta from the band Subsonica appeared!

Diego Formica – Historical member of the 3D Printing Users Group community

One of the best moments is a situation a few years ago. There were several people, a nice group with whom we spent the night in the Fablab during the weekend. One evening while we were working on our projects we improvised a night snack. We had everything but didn’t know how to heat the cheese toasts… so we used the paint stripper (hot air gun)! It was a lot of fun. I also happened to use the print plate of the 3D printer to heat up croissants.

Tito Castelli – Historical member of the Audio HackLab community 

So: the funniest event is unquestionably BELFAGOR! (N.B. This is an event dedicated to bartering, conceived by Davide Gomba and Andrea Gambedotti. BELFAGOR is an acronym in Italian which means Free Electronic Barter, Self-Managed, Philanthropic, and Oriented to Reuse). It really feels like Christmas! Crazy and inconsiderate bartering!  Now the “craziest” thing that has ever happened to me, I don’t know … maybe slicing the focaccia with the laser cut (oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that!). Other good times… when I fixed the wall under the window and painted half of the Fablab with some historical members. The endless long nights of working/playing with others at Audio HackLab, including beers, soldering iron, and various electronic circuits clattering … while in the other room, the guys from the 3D Printing community were going crazy from all the noise! Oh, and then the big concert of Audio HackLab during a Fablab birthday, that was also a good moment.

Cristina Bignante – Communications manager for Fablab Torino 

“… and then there was the 3D printer extruding the chocolate!” My favorite memory begins just like that. It was February 2017 and I had been working for the Fablab for a few months, for me it was the first time that I attended a FablabTO party, celebrating the fifth birthday. Many others followed, all crazy in their own way, but we know that the first time is unforgettable. Especially if it involves chocolates in the shape of the Fablab logo, 3D printed on the spot (even if they tasted terrible).

Marco Palma – STEAMLab, DigifabTuring project 

I would say that I will never forget that time we stuck the face of the president of the time, Gió Bindi, on a 600 kg robotic arm that was blowing a trumpet! It was the same party for the 5 years of the Fablab. See the animated gif below!

Fabrizio Alessio – Member and former counselor of the Fablab Torino Board 

It’s the middle of the night. Fellow maker Giacomo Leonzi and I are at Fablab finishing building an installation for writer Bruce Sterling, which a few hours later should be on a flight to Austin, Texas. In theory, Giac should also be on the same flight, we are extremely late. So we fill a suitcase with the components of the installation, not-very-nicely packed in bubble wrap: self-produced PCBs, molded parts, some self-made metal joints, batteries, cables, some jars of emergency glue, and another devilry… Imagine the face of the baggage officer when he saw the inside of the suitcase on the screen, I was afraid they would arrest Giac for procuring alarm! In any case, they opened the suitcase and checked it… 

Another fun story: the ceiling of the fablab is very high, and yet, incredibly, the spiders manage to climb up to the top and create cobwebs with multiple floors that look like apartment buildings. The visit of a famous personality to the fablab was scheduled, perhaps Samantha Cristoforetti and Paola Antonelli, so we dedicate ourselves to the big cleaning operations… but the cobwebs are so high that they are impossible to reach. Do we bet we can build an air cannon to shoot a rag to the ceiling? Well, we did and we have removed some cobwebs …

Another day, I enter the Fablab and see a stack of pressure cookers, compressed air pipes, co2 cylinders, and another devilry on the table.  “Guys, what are you doing?” “We are building an automatic cocktail mixer for the Fablab party!” “Oh, all right then …”  Basically, when you’re at the Fablab and you hear the words: “maybe this is not a good idea”, you better find some protective glasses and walk slowly to the nearest exit.

Pier Vona – Partner and former President of Techlab Chieri

My best experience at Fablab was undoubtedly the 2016 edition of FabAcademy: 25 weeks of fire in which every week we approached a different theme. The program embraced from the most basic aspects of making (milling machine, lathe, heavy machinery …) to more theoretical and broad topics such as the intellectual property of projects, how sharing on the internet works, and the documentation of projects which is fundamental and that since then I carry with me in any job. The pace of work was very tight and we risked burning the laser cut at least twice by letting it go for hours. It was super cool also because the project involved the global fablab network, not only my little world of Turin and Chieri where I was president of Techlab. A window on the world. 

Attending the FabAcademy I met other fabbers such as Stefano Paradiso, Gianfranco Caputo, Marco Cassino… but I first met Fablab Torino much earlier, at the Maker Faire in Rome in 2013, where Pietro Leoni had exhibited a laser-cut modular armchair, one of the very first projects and among the most awarded of FablabTO. The armchair had to be assembled by connecting the laser-cut pieces, but the boys had forgotten the cable ties! Apparently in all of the Maker Faire, the only ones who brought ties were us of Techlab. Moral of the story, the ties that hold that chair together are still ours from that day.

Marco Cassino – President of the Fablab Torino association 

My favorite memory is that evening when (I had recently attended the FabAcademy and was still a beginner) I made a mistake in setting the unit of measurement for the advancement of the milling machine: I put meters instead of millimeters. As a result, I spent the night waiting for my furniture to finish milling. It was supposed to be a 2 hour job, it took 16 hours. That night I slept on the fablab sofa.

Luciano Rizzi – Member and adviser of the Fablab Torino Board 

I approached the Fablab at an “advanced” age, I had heard about it while I was approaching 3D printing but I was not very clear what exactly people did here and how it worked (to tell the truth even now it is not clear!). My plasturgical technical training and the half-century on my shoulders put me in a disadvantage among successive generations of computer and electronic geeks but the environment fascinated me: a lot of knowledge, humility and desire to work together, a healthy environment where it does not matter what job or training you have but only the desire to share your knowledge. 

One day a project was presented for the construction of a smart bench. I was involved in a workgroup because initially, they thought about the use of resins. I remember the great involvement of all concerned. A school design competition was launched which allowed us to present different solutions to the client: some interesting, others futuristic but still an excellent job for the students of a technical institute. We were inspired by one of these and ventured in search of cement materials that none of us had skills in. I remember wandering around building material warehouses and talking to every bricklayer I came across to get as much information as possible. The polytechnic also gave its contribution by testing the use of additional reinforcements.  We worked in all conditions: in the evenings, on Saturdays and Sundays, taking time away from our personal commitments, returning home dirty and dusty, but in the end, the spirit of the maker emerged and the union made strength, allowing us to complete the project.

Francesco Pasino – Historical member and current Fablab Manager

During one of the first nights spent at the Fablab that I remember, I was following the construction of the Iron Man mask with two maker friends, Alessandro Stante and Andrea Bellusci. Alessandro had built a cast of the helmet, a kind of bowl divided into two parts in which he dripped the resin and rotated it to distribute it over the entire surface. Once finished, the mold opened in two and the complete helmet came out, ready to be finished. At the time I had just arrived at the Fablab, so I was just watching. I then helped them with the construction of Captain America’s shield. On the wooden negative that was the front of the shield, we poured the resin and very fine pieces of glass that had to be spread very quickly before the catalyst made the resin harden. Basically, we had formed an assembly line because we had to work very fast not to ruin everything.

Merry Maker Christmas!

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