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Spanish makers (and beyond) are gearing up for the fourth annual Maker Faire Bilbao, uniting the community and spreading the joy of making this weekend, November 18–20 at the Espacio Open Cookie Factory on the Zorrozaurre peninsula. The 2015 Faire showcased 100 projects and 200 hands-on activities, drawing 9,000 attendees over the course of the weekend.

We asked Karim Asry, one of the key organizers, to share some memories from last year’s Faire and to give us insight into what to expect this year. Of last year’s Faire, Asry shared:

The Cookie Factory has many traditional workshops that also got involved in the Faire: all the posters were printed onsite by Euskolor, woodworking for the scenography was made with the help of Ziriak Ebanistería, and more. The creative neighbors also got involved, as the circus school Zirkozaurre opened its doors during Maker Faire, as well as the skateboarding school Gure Txoko, and the rock-climbing gym Piugaz Bilbao, all of them makers and builders of their beautiful spaces.

We had epic moments hacking skateboards with LEDs and a laser cutter to cut grip tape and engrave the boards. Kids went crazy with a small DIY kit made from laser-cut recycled wood, a 3V battery, two LEDs, and copper tape. Public Lab‘s local node did an aerial photography workshop with balloons. Little Devices Lab‘s Jose Gomez Marquez explained the last frontier of social uses of technology in DIY and health, as well as other projects like MakerNurse and their makerspaces in hospitals fostering all types of DIY innovations by doctors and nurses. One example is a bandage with an e-textiles circuit including a humidity sensor that alerts you when a wound is bleeding, for instance. Many social activist, artists, makers, and technologist took note of this new wave of social DIY culture yet to come in Spain.

Straight from Zurich, IoT ninja Thomas Amberg built a beautiful and absurd clock using 12 ESP8266 modules right at the Faire. He stayed an extra day to finish the project. He didn’t want to leave. Local maker Laurita Siles displayed a two-bike-powered system that converted raw wool into basque hats and many more creations. And Mengmeng Chen and Shuyang Zhou from Seeed Studio converted the Cookie Factory into a hat-manufacturing facility to make everybody understand the complexity of designing more than just a prototype.

One of the things about doing a Maker Faire in a non-traditional venue like the Cookie Factory is that you end up leaving the place better than it was. The amazing parametric lamps CiO Estudio laser-cut for the main alley are one proof of it.

And there were so many things, we could talk endlessly about it.

Watching this recap video from 2015 makes me want to jump on the first plane to Bilbao to join the fun this year:

What are you doing differently this year?

The drone race is going to be bigger and better, occupying the whole rock-climbing boulder from Piugaz gym. This year, making is going social, taking into account the various global projects with local nodes that are trying to make an impact. Projects such as Precious Plastic and Public Lab will be showcased by their local nodes, as well as CookieLab and Pablo Rey from Basurama. Socially meaningful projects such as Fairphone will also be showcased.

We like to think of Maker Faire as a tool for transferring knowledge. Workshops can change lives, spreading good ideas and techniques. And early access can be decisive for any type of person or organisation that wants to get involved in the conversation about where technology is heading in our societies.

Have there been any significantly developments in the local maker community since last year’s Faire?

We’ve started to see the maker community in Bilbao blossoming in a very beautiful, unplanned, and sometimes chaotic way. New labs and local projects have been created, like Medialab BilbaoArte, FabLab Deusto, The Makery, and many more. Thousands of kids are involved in maker-style after-school activities. The art scene is very connected to technology, and this is also creating jobs as well.

An example we like to share: A local traditional industry company specialising in polymers, Leartiker, member of the largest worker-owned company in the world, Mondragon (with 80,000 employees), got in contact with maker culture through Maker Faire, and they’ve created a new spin-off company, MyMat, who is finding a niche market for the maker know-how in designing custom materials for 3D printing, for instance.

In the meantime, Spain has also seen its maker community grow stronger. As David Cuartielles says, it’s a country with a healthy and diversified ecosystem. Since September, Madrid, Galicia, and León have celebrated their own Faires (Barcelona also did earlier in 2016), and Bilbao is basically the goodbye party for the whole maker tribe. There’s news about new spaces opening everywhere.

Socially Conscious Projects

Asry shared with us that this year’s program seems more socially conscious than ever before, with makers concentrating their talents toward projects that can have deep social impacts and improve the lives of many. Here are just a selection of these projects that will be at Maker Faire Bilbao this weekend.

We’ll have representatives from three bio-hackerspaces: Genspace, Hackuarium, and DIYBio Barcelona. Sara Alvarellos, cofounder at Makespace Madrid, will talk about the relationship between gender and technology and MujeresTech. Cesar García, who was appointed as Spain’s first president of the fab lab and makerspace network CREFAB, will talk about past, present, and future of fab labs and makerspaces (he recently published a very interesting report about it with Orange Foundation). Juan Gonzalez, researcher on robotics and open source hacker, responsible for the Clone Wars project that started a chain of favours that allowed thousands of persons to have their own RepRap 3D printer, former head of innovation at BQ, and now lab manager in a nonprofit working with underprivileged kids, is trying to replicate the community effect with FPGAs, microchips as the last frontier for open source.

Fairphone

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Fairphone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics. Their first product is the world’s first ethical phone. Cofounder Miguel Ballester will be giving a talk about their journey into a new era in consumer electronics. They’re striving to “make a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing, and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first.”

Delta WASP 3MT

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Gianluca Pugliese, from WASP Madrid, will be showcasing a 3-meters-tall Delta 3D printer that can print chairs like the one pictured here.

Asturias High Altitude Ballooning

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Asturias High Altitude Ballooning (ASHAB) will bring their space capsule that was launched into the stratosphere a few months ago.

Public Lab’s DIY Spectrometer

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Public Lab‘s global community of environmental activist makers and hacker will have local representation by Pablo Rey, with the DIY spectrometer.

Precious Plastic


The folks at Precious Plastic “let people in every corner of the world know they can start their own local plastic workshop.” The local node will be on hand educating the public.

For all the information you need to join the community at Maker Faire Bilbao this weekend, including a full list of makers and the program guide, check out the website!