Three Strategies for Engaging Non-experts in a FabLab

Wednesday 3 October 2018
Organisers or author: 
Katrien Dreessen, Selina Schepers

Full paper.

Non-expert users are often impeded to enter digital fabrication spaces such as FabLabs. Challenges lie among other things in the unfamiliarity of tools and machines, a lack of skills and experience and the fact that most digital fabrication tools are not appropriated for non-expert users. Illustrated by case studies, this paper reports three strategies of involving non-expert users in a specific FabLab: (1) open door policy, (2) short term workshops and (3) long-term community processes. Through employing the Activity system model, we formulate five guidelines, including the insignificance of outreach merely through open days, the shift from outcomes to process, the role of the FabLab's machines, the embedment into the community through subjects (and their roles) and the combination of strategies. In doing so, we highlight the importance of community building for engaging non-expert users in a FabLab.