The ULB Fablab opened in 2019 at Zénobe Gramme, in the upper town. But since then, the works of the future campus and the Cité des Métiers have forced the “maker’s workshop” to move. “We moved to A6K, in the old postal sorting, in July 2020”, explains the director of the ULB Michel Coulon. “The Fablab now has a solid, dedicated structure, right next to the companies and start-ups of A6K.”
Concretely, the Fablab is a workshop where there are 3D printers, cutters (laser, vinyl, etc.), electronic kits, a thermoformer to create molds, and others. “It’s a place of creation, start-ups come to prototype with us, connected objects, robots, 3D prints… But it’s also a place of demonstration, to explain what a Fablab is”, continues Michael Coulon. “The idea is also for it to be a place for sharing, for pooling resources: why buy a poor quality 3D printer that you will use once, when you can take out a subscription at a modest and use the Fablab machines? It’s open to everyone!”
According to the director of the ULB, the installation at A6K allows the Fablab to fit into something bigger. “We have access to greater resources, especially intellectual ones. When an E6K student comes to create an object, he can meet an engineer from Thalès in the cafeteria, it’s a plus for everyone to be surrounded by ‘students and businesses.’ The proximity of the digital ecosystem around the Sambre is a plus, as well as the proximity to Charleroi station.
The Fablab, visited Monday evening by Ministers Glatigny (Social Promotion) and Borsus (Skills Centres), will probably not return to Zénobe Gramme in the future. “On the other hand, we plan to install an Edulab, a Fablab especially for students, in the future Cité des Métiers, smaller but more focused on what future students will do on the Charleroi campus.”