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A Fab Lab is a Community

Daniele, Davide ed Emanuele

A Fab Lab is a Community

A Fab Lab is a Community

Daniele Vigo, 25, explains how he became a maker.

The noise of a laser cut, the smell of engraved wood, the wide-open eyes of children who, for the first time, experience the thrill of creating an object that had only been imagined before. This is the vortex of stimuli with which maker Daniele Vigo has been invested every time he holds workshops at the Fab Lab at the Fondazione Mondo Digitale’s Innovation Gym, first as a coach and now as the coordinator. Daniele, 25, has been at FMD since he was sixteen, when he attended the  enrolled with the “Michelangelo Buonarroti” Technical School in Frascati. Thanks to the Didactic Garden Project, developed for his school, Daniele discovered digital manufacturing in a course at the Via del Quadraro Fab Lab. In recent weeks, he has been busy organizing FMD’s presence at the Maker Faire 2023 at the Rome Fair together with colleagues who, from today to Sunday (Oct. 20-22), will welcome visitors to stand G5 in Pavilion 8 [see news: Innovators like Us]. And it is certainly not the first edition of the Maker Faire in which he has been a protagonist!

“I have presented several projects with FMD makers and coaches at the Maker FAire. In 2017, with designer Lavinia Franceschini, we presented her rings modelled with Rhinoceros and 3D printed in resin; in 2018,  it was Light Text - Polygonal (a bright plexiglass smart panel that illustrates works of art to the blind); in 2019, PuzzLab (a ludic space to learn programming and Italian through a puzzle with laser-cut hexagonal pieces that can be assembled endlessly); and, also in 2019, Holomakers (paths to introduce students to the study of STEM subjects, with the creation of works of art through holograms and virtual images).”

Daniele, between one mechanical engineering exam and another, has worked on many projects with FMD. During the first phase of the Covid health emergency, for example, he developed a particularly light and comfortable protective visor, with sharing his solution with other makers via a tutorial showing how to optimise production times and the materials to use, donating it to the Municipalities of Frascati and Anzio and to the “SOS Angeli del Soccorso” voluntary association [see news: Solidarity Marathon and Protective Visors].

For Project Smart & Heart Rome, Daniele has overseen the installation of the six Innovation Gyms (plus another four hubs): permanent training centres designed to support intergenerational literacy, combat educational poverty and compact local communities. “They are places where students, but also families, over-65s, and teachers have been able to experiment a range of different activities, including orientation courses, training and refresher courses, and social innovation and urban renewal projects in Activity Spaces, Coding Labs, Fab Labs, Game Labs, Immersive Labs, Media Art Labs, Robotic Centres, and Video and Sound Labs.”

Daniele was there on October 11, when children and parents prototyped small objects they had designed in 3D at the Innovation Gym in Corviale, together with "grandparents" from the area who, guided by students, learned about useful smartphone applications for everyday life [see news: New Innovation Gym in Corviale]. In 2023, together with Davide Belli and Emanuele Coletta, he oversaw the organisation of the RomeCup competition spaces and managed the competitions.

One of his most recent challenges has been the metaverse: "After the meetings at Binario F in Rome where, in collaboration with Engineering and Meta, we presented the opportunities provided by augmented reality in experiential and brainstorming sessions, I followed the setup of the corner dedicated to the metaverse at FMD’s headquarters at the Città Educativa".

As always, the distinctive element of the experience is the impact on people's stories, their response. “Children who find themselves in a digital manufacturing context for the first time and socialize with the world of makers, generally remain ecstatic. The older children are already thinking about how to translate these new discoveries into enabling skills for their future, with the prospect of specific curricular decisions. The teachers were very interested and enjoyed the ease with which they could create objects that they would otherwise have struggled to make. Just think about the possibility of printing fossils in 3D that kids would normally only see through a simple illustration or making models of tangible cells to better understand them under every aspect."

How do you respond to doubts or resistance to the world of digital manufacturing? “Some object that creating objects so easily kills desire and could encourage laziness, especially amongst children, but technology is a learning tool just like the dictionary. It certainly does not replace a person's commitment to plan and rework their ideas. I have encountered distrust, especially amongst older people. Those who have always seen manual skills and craftsmanship as a priority believe that speed of production and simplification of processes reduces the final quality of products. However, rapid prototyping entails optimization, design, savings in terms of waste materials and consumption," concludes Daniele. “Fab Labs are not just manufacturing. They are a community, networking, a meeting between people dedicated to creating physical projects starting from the digital level, exchanging ideas and meeting at Maker Faires to share the fruits of their work."

The interview with Daniele Vigo was conducted by Onelia Onorati.

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