Traditional artisans in Tuscany are challenged to maintain precision and product quality in a world of production where time equals money. How can digital fabrication tools help artisans to work faster and smarter? The Fab Lab Toscana Project explores the potential for artisans to innovate if given access to digital fabrication facilities and a community of other digital makers.
In a multi phase project, researchers from the Mobile Experience Lab analyzed this opportunity space within artisanal production. From research collected, it was hypothesized that artisans could expand skillsets, become more innovative, and improve processes if given access to digital fabrication tools. Information about digital fabrication lab machinery and high-end product precedents were complied to give artisans a better understanding of the potential results.
Artisans including ceramicists, small leather good makers, and shoemakers were selected to participate in the feasibility study. In-person meetings and brainstorming sessions were held to discuss respective needs and prototyping ideas. Subsequently, Mobile Experience Lab researchers produced rapid prototypes for each participant showing that digital tools can cut cost, improve production speed, and allow innovation with precision.