WHAT IS A FABLAB?
WHAT IS A FABLAB?
A FabLab is a place where anyone can go to make [almost] anything! It’s a fabrication laboratory with digital tools, but more importantly, an open-access, shared, safe learning environment that embraces the idea of failing better.
Not long ago, whenever an inventor had an idea, they had to develop it either for the big corporations where they worked or in their basement or garage.
Times have changed, and we’re seeing huge growth of new spaces where inventors and innovators can go to prototype new ideas using high tech tools, such as 3D printers and laser machining workstations, while getting expert help in the design and production process. Products today are far more complex, the tools more expensive, and collaborations are necessary to aid results. Massachussetts’s Institute of Technology (MIT) – a hotbed of innovation – is home to just such an environment, the FabLab.
Founder Neil Gershenfeld felt that anyone could make almost anything in a FabLab. And that is coming true around the world. In diverse industries, inventors have created customized hand brace orthotics,implantable joints, ornate bricks for construction, parts for NASA satellites, housing for consumer electronics, iPad & iPhone cases and holders, as well as artistic creations such as sculpture, jewelry, and toys.
But the real power is in individuals who just want to see an idea become reality. And those are often the ideas that change the world.
HOW CAN THIS WORK?
First, technology has advanced to a place where equipment is sophisticated enough to be used by individuals. Some require training, but many are less complicated than the remote control for your TV. 20 years ago it took a PhD in laser physics to run a laser micromachining workstation, or to turn out some models using 3D Printing. Now those technologies are plug-and-play.
Secondly, communications and computers went from analog to digital, resulting in PCs and the Internet, and now the digitization of fabrication is leading to personal fabricators that will allow anyone to make almost anything, using simple CAD files. And lastly, computers and smart phones are now ubiquitous, so everyone, from kids to seniors, has the digital skills required for CAD drawings and controls.
Our beta-FabLab is underway and we are fundraising and working to procure more equipment. Please visit our Maine FabLab site for more information and workshop/class schedule.