A Fab Lab for sharing, for prototyping, for learning and making new products. Such us those against COVID-19.

We present you OpenDot, with a glimpse at the Italian maker community.

OpenDot is the Fab Lab we founded five years ago which shares space for prototyping, joint training, research and experimentation with Milan. Its a melting pot where skills, digital technologies and craftsmanship come together to create open innovation.

OpenDot is at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 and, with the maker community, is co-designing aids to meet healthcare facility needs by releasing open-source projects.

OpenDot is a Fab Laba digital manufacturing laboratory with numerical control machines, and a hub for research, experimentation, and open innovation in Milan. It is a space open to the city, providing training and sharing where ideas can be translated into projects that have a positive impact on people.

OpenDot Fab Lab | Milano

It was founded in 2014 by combining Dotdotdot with a network of diverse professionals who needed to test and prototype their projects.

OpenDot was founded under the strategic direction of Dotdotdot and partnerships with companies, foundations, universities, public and private organisations. It carries out innovative projects that see open source, maker culture values and user-centred co-design as its main features.

In the current worldwide health emergency, the maker community’s rapid response and agile prototyping demonstrate how everyone’s contribution is vital to meet complex problems.

OpenDot has been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 for months, taking part in an active, technical and design process that uses its practical ability to produce quick solutions. It continuously interacts with healthcare facilities, co-designing aids and coordinating the Italian maker community.

We report a long OpenDot post which explains how the maker community can contribute, especially during a crisis, and how the ability to adapt open-source projects and distributed production represent a practical, low cost, fast and effective solution.

Since its foundation, one of OpenDot’s main areas of research and experimentation has been healthcare.

We have experimented with design and technology which can innovate the health and care sector by providing tailor-made aids, software development, and joint training with doctors and therapists since 2015. We have been applying what is called co-design, i.e. participatory design bringing people with different skills to sit around the same table: makers, therapists, designers, caregivers and care-receivers.

Embracing the sharing and open source philosophy, OpenDot uses the Careables.org platform, which was created with seven other European partners including university departments, design firms and foundations. We collect solutions, aids, case studies, and useful information to cope with the Covid-19 spread. This is done by enhancing the contribution of the maker community, which has an online platform dedicated section. This includes documenting projects, providing support to those who want to replicate or implement them, and raising awareness about the responsible use of DIY products.


During all this, Fab Lab never stops — especially its 3D printers.

Like OpenDot, we are supporting several hospitals, with which we have worked in the past: providing Desio Hospital with face shields for intensive care and the Melegnano Hospital (Milano Sud) with a revised version of the Decathlon mask Charlotte valve.

Thanks to Isinnova’s team of designers and engineers, who released the open-source project, it was possible to optimise the design to reduce printing time and implement a small “hack” to speed up mass production.

Charlotte Valves, made in OpenDot

The industrial production of the Charlotte adapter, the safest and fastest method available, has finally started. However, distributed manufacturing is still a valid alternative to test the system in hospitals, modify the parts to adapt them to different situations and quickly receive the first parts for emergencies.

A significant example of what open source and distributed digital manufacturing can do is the Intubation Box. This was a project created in Taiwan and tested at MIT in Boston, which we redesigned for laser cutting and delivered to intensive care departments in Desio and Melegnano Hospitals for testing.

Local production and widespread distribution (one of Fab City’s foundation concepts) allows to reduce shipments, shortening times and avoiding waiting lists.

The production of these types of objects will not replace certified industrial production. Still, the contribution of makers in times of emergency like this requires speeding up the processes, co-create, modify, produce or replicate, until you reach the most effective solution.

It is necessary to coordinate efforts and create solutions that everyone can produce and access to increase production capacity and response times.

Face Shields, made in OpenDot

OpenDot is actively working with two national platforms to optimise everyone’s effort and maximise their impact, favouring the meeting between supply and demand to meet the unresolved needs.

Make in Italy has taken on this role, by facilitating cooperation and direct dialogue between community makers, healthcare facilities and companies willing to contribute.

Tech4care gathers the needs of people, especially those exposed to the risk of contagion and provides possible ideas for dealing with these difficulties.

It is good to see different parties, who normally would not work together, united in dealing with this unprecedented situation.

We are a multidisciplinary interaction design studio founded in Milan in 2004, in which experimentation is at the core of innovation.