Repair Café

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Repair Café Amsterdam-West

Repair Café is an organisation with venues setup to provide people with a place to gather and work on repairing objects of everyday life, such as electronics, mechanical devices, computers, bicycles, and clothing. Repair Cafés are typically held at community locations including churches, libraries, and college campuses where tools are available and device owners can fix their broken goods with the help of volunteers.[1] Repair Café is a part of the grassroots movement that aims to reduce waste, overconsumption, and planned obsolescence.[2] It can re-ignite the do-it-together and "do it yourself" spirit and strengthen social cohesion.[3][4][5][6][7][8]


Dutch journalist Martine Postma who wants to drive local-level sustainability introduced the Repair Café in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 2009[9][10] On 18 October 2009, the first Repair Café was held at Fijnhout Theater, Amsterdam-West. On 2 March 2010, the Repair Café Foundation was set up. The foundation was formed to support local groups around the world in setting up their own Repair Cafés.[11] Since then, the number of Repair Cafés has grown quickly. In March 2016 Postma registered more than 1,000 Repair Cafés worldwide, 327 in the Netherlands, 309 in Germany, 22 in the UK, 21 in the US, 15 in Canada, four Australia and one in India.[12] In March 2018 the number of Repair Cafés climbed over 1,500, in 2021 the number reached 2,000.[13][14]

In 2017, the first International Repair Day was announced. It is intended to be an annual event, taking place on the third Saturday of October each year.[15]


Repair Café can be understood as an act of commoning. Repair Café is not only about repairing broken items in a fixed location. It is also about commoning the tools, spaces, knowledge, and skills. For instance, instead of everyone buying their own sewing machine from the market, sharing and commoning the private-owned one would take place in a repair cafe.[16] In terms of knowledge and skill sharing, the individuals who join the repair cafe workshops are usually happy to help others to repair broken items and teach what they know about repairing as well. They would also make the enclosed knowledge accessible to their members through hacking practices with no regard to the copyright.

Repair Café is a way to avoid consumerism by participating in a circular economy.

Knowledge sharing[edit]

In 2017, the Repair Café Foundation developed an online tool—RepairMonitor—enabling volunteers to collect and share knowledge about repair data via the database. In March 2018, information about almost 4,000 repairs had been entered into this system, aiming to promote repairability and durability of products.

3D printing of broken parts[edit]

Some Repair Cafés have begun to use 3D printers for replicating broken parts.[17] Broken pieces of domestic appliances may be able to be pieced or glued back together, after which they can be scanned with a 3D scanner. Examples of 3D scanners include David Starter-Kit, 3D Systems Sense, MakerBot Digitizer, Fuel 3D, Microsoft Kinect, and Asus Xtion.[n 1] Once the physical object is scanned, the 3D model is rendered. It can be converted to a .stl or .obj format and revised using geometry processing software such as makeprintable, netfabb, MeshLab, Meshmixer, Cura, or Slic3r.[n 2] It is printed using a 3D printer client, creating a physical part using the 3D printer. The complete process takes some time to complete.

To reduce the time needed in the Repair Café, people might choose to use a pre-made part from a website with 3D models (skipping the scanning step),[n 3] or make the 3D model themselves by taking many photographs of the part and using something like 123D Catch, and/or choose (in the event the Repair Café does not have its own 3D printer) to have the 3D model made in the Repair Café, but printed using a 3D printer elsewhere. Alternatively a 3D printing service like Ponoko, Shapeways, and others can be used, and a person then return to the Repair Café to have the new part fitted to the broken equipment.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Microsoft Kinect and Asus Xtion can be used together with ReconstructMe software for 3D scanning
  2. ^ Cura and Slic3r have some fixup tools, despite being mainly a slicer program
  3. ^ Examples of such websites are Thingiverse, CGTrader, GrabCAD, and Google 3D Warehouse


  1. ^ Wackman, John (16 July 2013). "'Repair Café' Gets Stuff Fixed". Rethink Local website. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  2. ^ "[1]"
  3. ^ "Global Village: Warum eine neue Bewegung aus den Niederlanden Toaster und Bügeleisen repariert " Der Spiegel, 26 May 2012
  4. ^ "Mehr reparieren, weniger konsumieren Westdeutscher Rundfunk, 29 July 2012
  5. ^ "Repair Cafe nu ook doorgedrongen in Duitsland" heute, 26 January 2012
  6. ^ "Dutch group mends broken items for free" Al Jazeera, 16 July 2012
  7. ^ "Repareren is weer in" VTM, 1 December 2012
  8. ^ "Repair Café naar Elzenhof" Brusselnieuws, 3 January 2013
  9. ^ "[2]"
  10. ^ Sally McGrane, "An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time" The New York Times, 8 May 2012
  11. ^ Purvis, Katherine; Card, Nell; Palmer, Lucy (17 September 2014). "How to set up your own repair café". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  12. ^ Visit a Repair Café, captured on 19 March 2016
  13. ^ Visit a Repair Café, captured on 30 January 2017
  14. ^ "[3]"
  15. ^ "Dialogues and Debates: Ugo Vallauri". Voice Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  16. ^ "[4]"
  17. ^ "Repair café maakt onvindbare wisselstukken met 3D-printer" Het Belang van Limburg

External links[edit]