By Miki Yabuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer “Fab spaces,” where anyone can make their creations using digital machines such as laser cutters and ultraviolet (UV) printers, have recently increased in number. These facilities make it easier for young designers and creators to give their ideas concrete form, drawing attention as places to produce new fashions.
The name “fab space” comes from the word “fabrication.” According to a survey by web media Fabcross, there are 120 fab spaces across the nation, up by 40 from the previous year. Many of them charge users several thousand yen per hour to use the space.
At FabCafe Tokyo in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, a 3-D printer and other tools are available. Designer Megumi Minakawa makes wooden accessories, stationery and other products using a laser cutter and sells them on the internet.
Inputting data into the machine makes it possible to accurately cut even complex shapes with a laser beam. “I can make products with designs that are difficult to cut out by hand, so the range of my work has expanded,” Minakawa said.
Another fab space, Makers’ Base in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, has about 6,000 registered members, including designers and students, offering a place to enjoy making things. Junpei Matsuda, the manager of the facility, regularly holds a product development contest. “I hope people will use the place not only for making things but also for putting their work out into the world,” he said. Prize-winning creations such as cushion covers and bags have even been commercialized.
KLC Craft Lab in Taito Ward, Tokyo, is a facility operated by Kobe Leather Cloth Co., which manufactures and sells shoes. The company makes the facility available to the public for a fee while also using it to produce its own products.
The company’s own brand, IROnna, includes artificial leather shoes featuring floral motifs and photographed images of night views, fruit, chocolates and other subjects. To produce these shoes, a UV printer capable of instantly fixing pigments with ultraviolet rays is used to print such images on the shoes. “We can quickly make test models based on ideas and images,” said Aya Kumamoto of the company’s new product development and sales division.
Gakuto Ochi, the deputy chief editor of Fabcross, said: “Recently, digital machine tools have had an impact on fashion, as seen in trials of making clothes using a 3-D printer, for example. They are also good for producing small quantities, making it easier to respond to the diversified needs of individual consumers.”Speech