3D technology - an opportunity for young people in a detention centre in Romania

FabLab Romania

30 young people from the Braila-Tichiliesti Detention Centre in Romania learn 3D printing techniques and the use of technological machines to develop skills that will help them better reintegrate into society.

The courses are held in the FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory) that was set up in the Centre by the Terre des hommes Foundation in Romania and are supported by Bogdan Ganea, professor of computer science and information technology.

Why did we open this FabLab? To make it easier for young people to reintegrate socially and professionally after their release from the Centre. In the FabLab, they will develop skills and resources that will help them to assume a role in society, be more efficient and have access to better living conditions. The vocational training and skills developed in the FabLab provide young people with openings to various future educational options, opportunities and resources to be able to build a positive personality. "We want to help young people through everything we do, and this lab is just a small part of our efforts," says Catalina Uta, Terre des hommes project manager.

In August-September 2023, the 30 young people aged 14-26 are attending an introductory courses in 3D printing (theory and practice): 15 hours of introductory 3D modelling and 15 hours of 2D printing, programming CNC machines and vector graphics for laser engraving. Five staff of the Centre are also taking part in the courses and will in turn be instructors for other young people, as the FabLab will continue to operate even after the end of our project.

The lab is equipped with 6 Prusa MK3S 3D printers, a CNC machine and a 3D scanner. Participants will use Fusion 360 software for 3D modelling and will print objects based on models selected from the Internet. The only requirements for attending the course are basic knowledge of geometry and computer operation.

Young people have already learned to print simple objects: customised keyrings, whistles, wheels. They are just at the beginning, but they want to print gift items for people who come to visit them or gifts to send home to family. "It's quite hard for them to learn 3D printing from scratch in 15 hours, but young people are paying attention to the classes, being curious and fascinated by how to model different objects. 3D technology is something new for them, something worth exploring and which offers surprising openings for the future," says instructor Bogdan Ganea.

Terre des hommes opened this FabLab as part of the PRECISION 2 project: Promoting the wellbeing and reducing recidivism of juvenile offenders in Romania. Through this project, more than 250 children and young people from detention centres will benefit from a programme that aims to ensure their reintegration into society. The project is implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation from 2023 to 2025, with funding from MEDICOR Foundation.