David is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of FabLab Budapest, an open innovation laboratory which is the only Hungarian member of the international FabLab network. Everything he knows about design and manufacturing he has learned by doing from his engineer colleagues and FabLab users. He represents proudly that to become a maker only needs intrepidity and effort to learn and practice.
He believes in bottom-up innovation and with his team helps others to create their first prototype using the infrastructure of the FabLab. His goal is the democratization of manufacturing technologies to give the chance to people and companies to materialize their dreams. FabLab Budapest celebrates its fifth birthday this year.
How did you end up joining the #maker movement?
6 years ago I was working on Hungarian and EU programmes which supported research and innovation. Even though I am not an engineer I always had project ideas I wanted to craft, but I didn’t have the knowledge and the tools to make them. I met the FabLab concept in Barcelona before I knew about the maker movement and the DIY itself. I loved the idea and after I returned to Hungary I was looking for a way to be part of the birth of the first FabLab in Hungary. I became a part of a small and dedicated team of volunteers which founded FabLab Budapest. Everything I know about design and manufacturing I learned by doing from my engineer colleagues and the FabLab users. I’m proud to represent that to become a maker you only need intrepidity and effort to learn and practice. This is how is joined the maker movement.
What do you most value in the innovation/maker environment?
I value several things. First, I truly believe in sharing; sharing knowledge, information, our ideas and our infrastructure to give the chance to others to become a maker too. I also think that the maker culture gives back a lot to the society. All the FabLabs I know are living in symbiosis with the local environment and give a response to its needs.
Sometimes complex problems could be solved with very simple solutions. If you face a challenge and you have limited access to technology and tools you will come up with a basic, but more effective answer. To have access to tools (whether analogue or digital) lowers the entry threshold of innovation. By sharing the problems you face you also have more chance to solve them with the help of the community. We are not just building things; as a maker we are building a community.
What’s the maker movement outlook in your country?
I personally believe that the movement is before its boom in Hungary. Years ago people had no idea what is open innovation, what does it mean to be a maker. For a long time we were the only place open for everybody to make, craft, or tinker. This is changing now, and I am very happy about it. Present days we help in the birth of other FabLabs and Makerspaces. And we have more and more exciting projects going on!
In your opinion, what features in your city/destination/country is more appealing to an innovation-oriented crowd?
Budapest is not just a beautiful city, but it has slowly become one of the sweet spots for tech and social entrepreneurs. If I were a foreigner I would give a chance to Budapest to come to learn and to work on your project here. Hungary is an affordable place, trust me, you would be surprised! People are generally kind and the small maker community is not only open but have high level knowledge of manufacturing and tinkering.
You seem to have been able to create such a nurturing environment around your FabLab/makerspace/hackerspace in (your country). What does your audience look like? Who do you mainly target – students, inventors, or… ?
Most of our users come from universities to work on their own projects or to learn specific manufacturing method. Generally they are engineers, architects or artists (sculptors, jewellers, designers, etc.). We work with a lot of entrepreneurs and small companies both from the fields of technology and design, who do the prototyping and small scale production at our place.
What do you consider your greatest goal as EMW’s Ambassador?
As I mentioned earlier, the maker movement definitely has room to grow in our country. I see two ways to amplify the process: to inform and to educate. First, we have to spread the word of the movement, teach the ways of the maker – why we make and how we think about technology and innovation in general – to as many people as possible. Second, we really need to help people – especially younger generations – to experience making first-hand so they will not only know what we do, but how we do it as well.
What kind of events are you planning to organize during the EMW?
We plan to carry on our already successful projects, like organizing workshops for university and high school students. In addition, we plan to access small local communities and give them the chance to meet with advanced manufacturing technologies, so we are going to organize workshops where people can learn specific methods, e.g. laser cutting, 3D printing, woodworking workshops, etc. We also want to have “open days” where the community gathers and we guide them through the lab showing what machines we have and some examples what can be made using them.