THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)- Cebu will launch three fabrication laboratories (FabLab) this year with an estimated budget of P24.8 million.
These FabLabs will be set up in the campuses of Cebu Technological University (CTU) in Tuburan, Danao and Argao.
“This April, we will launch FabLab CTU-Tuburan, which is about P6.8 million. Then we will process FabLab CTU-Danao and CTU-Argao, which has a combined budget of P18 million,” said DTI Cebu Director Ma. Elena Arbon.
A FabLab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention that allows local manufacturers to make prototypes and products such as equipment, machinery and electronic gadgets; create scale models, illustrate graphic designs and mass-produce products, among others.
This technology-based incubator laboratory began in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help grassroots communities translate their design ideas into physical forms with the help of technology. The facility is now present in about 200 locations in over 50 countries.
The first FabLab in the country is housed in Bohol Island State University.
In 2016, DTI Cebu opened Cebu’s first FabLab inside the University of the Philippines-Cebu, the second FabLab established in Central Visayas.
DTI has about 12 FabLabs across the country.
The town of Tuburan boasts of decorative apparel and fashion accessories made of seashells and coconut shells, wood and other indigenous products. Recently, the town has been making headlines because of its growing coffee industry.
Argao, on the other hand, is known for its delicacies like torta or native sponge cake, and tableya or native chocolate. Major sources of income in Danao are in manufacturing, agriculture, cottage industries and tourism.
The presence of the FabLab, according to Philexport Cebu executive director Fred Escalona, helps Cebuano exporters and startups become competitive as far as operational cost is concerned.
“Since the FabLab is a shared service facility, users of the facility will be able to avoid high costs and large capital infusion if they are to operate their own facility. Usage of the lab’s equipment can be optimized, thus making the operation cost efficient,” said Escalona.
In a separate interview, exporter and former president of Cebu Gift, Decors and Houseware (GDH) Pete Delantar said that if properly disseminated to other schools, the FabLab can help industry startups create a creativity explosion because “creativity can now be executed into action through actual use of machine and equipment for prototyping.”
“The hurdles of creation is the translation of idea into action. Fablab is the cheapest and effective way to make thing happen,” said Delantar, who is chief executive officer of Nature’s Legacy Eximport.