Jigmi Wangdi  

As part of the National Day celebrations, DHI’s InnoTech department conducted three workshops at the Thimphu TechPark. The workshop focused on 3D printing, sticker making and laser cutting.

The workshops helped participants learn about the technological advances that Bhutan is making through the Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab (JNWSFL), one of only four super fab labs in the world.

The beginner-level workshop aimed to introduce the participants to 3D designing and printing by giving them a hands-on experience with the machines in the super fab lab.

An associate analyst at JNWSFL, Zina Yonten, said that the training was basic so as not to intimidate the participants while learning.

“Most people think that only experts or engineers can do it but actually even kids can do it. There are so many resources online that make it easy for them to learn as they grow,” she said.

The workshop allowed the participants to design and print anything of their choice.

Zina Yonten said that the objective was to give the participants a sense of accomplishment after the workshop. “Whoever is interested will be encouraged to take the next step to learn more about these technologies.”

The JNWSFL conducted four workshops since it was inaugurated in June of this year.

Zina Yonten said that the super fab lab is currently focusing on capacity-building. “We want to increase the usage, and later the people who learn these skills will be the ones who will be using the lab.”

Owing to the participants’ interest in 3D-printing, the workshop was conducted for two days.

Other than the super fab lab in Thimphu, there are five other fab labs in the country.

The JNW Super Fab Lab expects to move on to more complex software by next year.

The vinyl-cutting workshop, was specifically for a younger audience, inviting anyone above the age of five to participate.

An associate analyst, Namgyal Tsheden Gyeltshen, said that the workshop was dubbed ‘sticker-making’ in order to make it appealing to the young participants.

“Vinyl-cutting is the easiest introduction to digital fabrication. Through this workshop, we hoped to engage participants and spark an interest in learning other tools of digital fabrication,” she added.

A vinyl cutter is a computer-controlled cutting device usually used to create labels, stickers, etc. Vector files with patterns, letters or custom designs are fed to the machine and partially cut onto a two-layered self-adhesive material (vinyl).

The final day of the workshops focused on laser cutting. The participants were trained to use 2D design knowledge to engrave or cut cardboard in a design of their choice.

Another associate analyst at JNWSFL, Manish Rai, said that the laser-cutting machine is simple to use. “A person can be trained to use the machine in a single day. It is quite easy to use once the individual is properly trained.”

The super fab lab will be open to the public even after the workshops. To encourage the use of the machines, the lab aims to keep it free for students while others will have to pay a minimal fee. Anyone interested to print their own designs can visit the lab.

A major objective of the JNWSFL is the creation of products that are native to Bhutan in order to enhance and diversify the market for local products.