Christoph Fahle
August 27, 2012

Bram De Vries

Bram De Vries came to Berlin from the Netherlands this April and immediately got involved into local Fab Lab network, developing the Fab Café project together with Amin Zayani.

What is your professional background? How did you discover 3D printing?

I am a mechanical engineer. But once I graduated and worked about 3 years for the industry, I realized that I would prefer to do something more interesting and more useful for the world. At this moment I discovered technologies for third world countries and decided to study cultural anthropology to know a bit more about the cultural aspect of this field. After graduation I worked for developing countries, as it was planned, but to earn a bit more money, as a side job I worked as a 3D designer. One day there was a client who wanted not only a model, but also a final 3D printed prototype and that`s how 3D printing got started in my life.

As far as I know 3D printers back then were barely accessible, how did you manage to get into all the technical details?

I was obviously interested to get to know more about 3D printing after that very fist client. And once I heard that a workshop on building your own 3D printer was happening in town, I was there. Moreover, I really liked the idea of open source approach to 3D printing, since it had obvious social benefits. But with all my appreciation to this approach from the social perspective, I had to admit that I really didn`t like it from the technical perspective. These machines were too troublesome, and I wanted to make something different with the Fab Café project.

How did you get involved into the Fab Café project?

Well, I came to Berlin from Netherlands not that long ago, this April. Sometime before going to Germany, I started a bit of networking, asking my friends if they know some guys from Fab Lab community I could cooperate with in Berlin. One of the contacts was Jay Cousins, co-founder of the Open Design City, so I entered the betahaus. Then there was an inspiring open call for establishment of the 1st Fab Café in Berlin on the betahaus web page, and I joined in. At the first Fab Café meeting I also got to know Amin, with whom we are working together now.

In which direction would you like to lead the Fab Café project? What are your main goals?

We picked up the 3D printer, which is more secure and productive than those, which are open source. We would like our Orca to produce 3D printed models constantly, to make it visible for others, to introduce 3D printing facilities to a wide audience.  We would like people to get inspired by the technique of 3D printing, get access to it, start creating and experimenting together with us. My personal goal is to find experienced and interested people, to work on the exploration of 3D printing together further on.

What is actually 3D printing? What are the possibilities of a 3D printer?

3D printing is building up an object layer by layer, depending on the machine, it could be done out of plastic, metal or even wood. Besides the whole variety of various objects, which you could find on thingiverse, 3D printing is now used in most unexpected ways – 3D printing organs and even food.

The greatest thing about 3D printing is ”haptics”. This complicated word means that you can feel, touch and try out the 3D model which is very different from just seeing your prototype on the computer screen. It gives completely new opportunities for quick and affective prototyping. Moreover, nowadays basically anything could be 3D printed, only depends on facilities of a particular machine.

When are you going to launch the Fab Café in betahaus?

We already got our 3D printer, but within the testing phase we got some technical problems, which we needed to solve and explore.  3D printing is a very new technology. New in a way, that affordable 3D printers appeared not that long ago and are produced by a one-man company. It is not a standard mass manufacturing, so every machine is unique, should be personally approached and may have some child-disease every now and then, which are curable, but require some time. Our baby is already almost healthy, and will show up in betahaus Fab Café in about 1-2 weeks.

Join Bram and other entrepreneurs at betahaus! Click here to see how to become a member!

Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.

Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.


If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.

The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.

It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.


Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for‌ ‌example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”. 

Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?

It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌urban‌ ‌planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!


A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.

Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!


Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.


Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.


Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard.  The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.


Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one? 

Then head over to our Future Logistics Challenge! Applications are still open until September 23rd.

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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