TAGBILARAN CITY, PHILIPPINES — The Department of Trade and Industry Region 7 Central Visayas hosted “FabX PH: Celebrating a Decade of Fablabs’ Innovation in the Philippines” on 9-10 May 2024. The two-day event aimed to commemorate a decade of innovation, collaboration, and transformative impact made by fabrication laboratories (Fablabs) in the country.

Attended by Fablabs, micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), makers, and innovators, this milestone follows the inception of the Fablab network in May 2014 that has expanded significantly, with about 49 operational Fablabs nationwide to date. Also, the event was supported by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Provincial Government of Bohol, and the City Government of Tagbilaran.

Fablabs serve as collaborative hubs for academia, industry, and government which enable MSMEs to innovate, add value to existing ones, and generate new revenue streams. These facilities also foster the development of low-cost solutions for community challenges and needs.

Further, DTI R7 Regional Director Maria Elena C. Arbon emphasized the agency’s support for Fablabs. She said, “The DTI 7 encourages Fablabs to accelerate innovation by helping develop a culture of excellence and problem- solving skills in the community where they are situated, with the end in view of bringing innovations within reach of the MSMEs.”

The FabX PH was designed to explore the innovation program of the Philippine government, and was made possible in collaboration with the Bohol Island State University (BISU), Fablab Bohol, and Field Ready.

DTI Competitiveness Innovation Group (CIG) Assistant Secretary Leonila Baluyut, Department of Science and Technology Provincial Director Vina Antopina, and DTI CIG Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera joined DTI R7 Director Arbon on a fireside chat tackling “Way Forward of the Philippines Fablabs.”

Meanwhile, the highlight of the event was the FABSIKLABAN 2024, a prototyping competition where Fablabs in the country showcased innovative projects aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): People, Planet and Prosperity.

Participating Fablabs submitted a single entry per category of new, existing, or ongoing projects, with at least 30% of the prototype digitally fabricated in their own Fablab or Digifab.

The Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT U) won first place in the People category, with its prototype: the Personalized Assistive Defense and Navigational Equipment (PADaNE) Cane. It is a multifunctional tool designed to provide individuals with support and protection, featuring a pulse oximeter, flashlight, SOS beacon, and taser.

Moreover, Fablab Bohol secured first place on the Planet category, with their KapodHupok Grocery Bag that was crafted from Kapodhupok, a potential plant- based leather made from kapok fibers and cacao pod husk, blending natural materials and cutting-edge technology.

Fablab CTU Tuburan won the title in the Prosperity category with their Smart Egg Sorting Machine, a device designed to automate the egg sorting process in poultry farms improving efficiency and reducing manual labor.

A total of 12 Fablabs and Digifabs participated in the competition. All participants were given printer filaments from Omnifab Inc.

During the event, participants also had the opportunity to delve into practical learning experiences through a series of hands-on demonstrations and workshops covering various disciplines. These included 3D Modelling & Design, Hands-on Digital Fabrication, Arduino Workshop, and Projection Mapping Workshop.

Fablabs in Region 7

The DTI’s Fablabs, under the flagship program Shared Service Facilities (SSF), provide support and enable the DTI’s Inclusive Innovation-Led Industrial (I3) Strategy in the countryside by making available facilities and tapping local experts in creating new innovations.

In 2020, Fablabs in Central produced an estimated 35,000 face shields, 34,000 cloth face masks, 900 medical gowns, and 28 aerosol boxes to estimated 800 frontline beneficiaries in region 7.

In 2021, Field Ready, and Light of Hope PH partnered to deploy Portable Solar Charging Kits to Typhoon Odette-affected areas, demonstrating the impact of innovation, and collaboration on disaster response and resilience-building efforts.

“These are only among the many initiatives, efforts and endeavors that underscore the Fablab’s commitment to fostering learning, innovation, and community involvement within the realm of technology and creativity—reflecting its role as a creative and innovative ‘maker’ for the community,” said DTI R7 Director Arbon.

“Through this commemoration, we envision not just a reflection on the past decade’s achievements but a strategic initiative to propel Fablabs forward in fulfilling their mission and objectives, ensuring continued support for MSMEs and promoting the expansion of their positive impact on local industries and communities,” she added. ♦

Date of release: 27 May 2024