Profitability and impacts of fablabs in portugal

Florinda Matos, Miguel Marques, Radu Godina, Ana Josefa Matos, Pedro Espadinha-Cruz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In recent years, new ways of approaching the manufacturing processes have gained importance. The need for greater personalization of goods and the creation of differentiated parts, combined with the urgency to innovate both on the part of companies and consumers, gave rise to the FabLab - fabrication laboratory - concept, which aims to bring together people and technologically advanced tools that are usually expensive and not widely available. FabLabs are spaces that are open to the entire community, allowing their users to become designers and producers of their products. Among the new manufacturing techniques, used in the FabLabs, the concept of additive manufacturing stands out, namely with the use of 3D printers that allow customization and flexibility for low volume productions. This paper presents an exploratory study of the profitability and impacts of FabLabs in Portugal, comparing their management, use and relevance, taking into consideration whether the investment is private or public. In addition, this study aims to highlight the importance of FabLabs as agile places of innovation exploring solutions to problems in the digital society. A quantitative methodology was used based on a questionnaire applied to FabLab managers in Portugal. The study concluded that there are significant differences between FabLabs. Those that received private investment are companies with a larger structure, more demand and higher turnover. On the other hand, companies that are mostly financed by public investment have lower demand. Private FabLabs have a greater focus on organizations that finance them, while public investment based FabLabs' are more concerned about the mission of providing tools to the community, helping to educate the population. This study showed that, in terms of profitability, these organizations are not self-sufficient. The profitability requires a change in people's mindsets, a greater involvement between the organizations and the promotion of curiosity to encourage its use to generate innovation and development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2020
EditorsAlessandro De Nisco
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781912764679
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2020 - Rome, Virtual, Italy
Duration: 17 Sept 202018 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
ISSN (Print)2049-1050


Conference15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2020
CityRome, Virtual


  • 3D printers
  • Customization
  • FabLabs
  • Innovation


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