A fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop offering (personal) digital fabrication.
A fab lab is generally equipped with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make “almost anything”. This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.
While fab labs have yet to compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale in fabricating widely distributed products, they have already shown the potential to empower individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass production.
The fab lab program was initiated to broadly explore how the content of information relates to its physical representation and how an under-served community can be powered by technology at the grassroots level. The program began as a collaboration between the Grassroots Invention Group and the Center for Bits and Atoms(CBA) at the Media Lab in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a grant from the National Science Foundation (Washington, D.C.) in 2001.
While the Grassroots Invention Group is no longer in the Media Lab, The Center for Bits and Atoms consortium is still actively involved in continuing research in areas related to description and fabrication but does not operate or maintain any of the labs worldwide (with the exception of the mobile fab lab). The fab lab concept also grew out of a popular class at MIT (MAS.863) named “How To Make (Almost) Anything”. The class is still offered in the fall semesters.
Neil Gershenfeld: Unleash your creativity in a Fab Lab
16:45 – together these two projects answer questions i hadn’t asked carefully, the class at mit shows:
1. the killer app for personal fabrication in the developed world is tech for a market of 1 – personal expression in technology that touches a passion unlike i’ve seen in tech in a very long time
2. killer app for rest of planet is the instrumentation/fabrication divide – people locally developing solutions to local problems
rephrased in 2013:
cusp of personal fabrication means a new literacy in the developed world, but for the rest of the world, this might mean the tech revolution for them, not bringing tech to them, it means locally appropriate technological development
personal fabrication is the next development
may 2015 – fablabs and grassroots activism:
f activists are already involved in this type of community building, does a project like Ateneus offer anything more than a shiny technological patina to the process? Or could an Ateneu provide useful tools that unlock wider possibilities, and plug the district into a global community of design activists experimenting in digital fabrication for DIY urbanism and commons-based economic development?
Yet, as I have explored in my work on community workshops in London in the 1980s, these types of ‘making’ spaces are always opened in very specific social, political and economic contexts. …. If communities are truly to be liberated to debate, use, and resist tools in a way that they see as appropriate (rather than those encapsulated in elite visions), one must engage with the politics of these contexts.
raised eyebrow ness.. resonating with cities of learning..
Deployed sensitively, the Ateneus programme could provide important spaces for exploring technology, citizenship, and urban governance in very practical ways, supporting diverse forms of neighbourhood-led development. The programme is still young, and patience is required. The longer-term promise of Ateneus rests with it becoming a community resource owned by the neighbourhoods in which it sits, rather than tied up with the patronage of local politicians.
bringing tools to people requires skilful community development as well as skills in digital fabrication. A controlled opening up of urban governance and experiments in cultivating particular forms of citizenship is not an easy task.
a controlled opening up..?
april 2016 – Barcelona fablab founder Tomas Diez interview for thé systemic economy Summit
in begin of computers.. room.. to pocket.. fablabs success depends on its disappearance…..when we disappear.. it means we made it.. it means we are producing at home/neighborhood/cities get back production means/production… don’t have to import…
not circular econ.. but spiral econ – not only about infinite loops.. but a set axis.. which is value
empower citizens to be owners of own destiny by means of new production
designing reality – by Gershenfeld bros