Fab Lab ‘s: Changing the Way We Create and Innovate
When I first heard of a fab lab, I automatically got interested. I like technology, especially those that give the underserved the chance to explore their innovative potentials. It is a shortened term for fabrication laboratory which may be small but makes a world of difference to those who are itching of getting their ideas to action. These seemingly small workspaces equipped with computer-operated devices, 3-D printers are teeming with potentials and possibilities.
With more than a hundred fab labs dotting 34 countries around the world, from Boston to a rural area in Ghana, these laboratories are bringing innovations to the grassroots and exploring the potential of those who are willing to fashion their own inventions with digital and mechanical help. Fab labs have revolutionized the way we create and innovate, especially in the field of entrepreneurship.
Here are some of the amazing fab lab ‘s that put theories to test and where innovation potentials of the curious are explored.
MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms
One of the most famous is the MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms Fab Lab. It’s an interdisciplinary initiative exploring the boundary between computer science and physical science. This center studies how to turn data into things, and things into data. It manages facilities, runs research programs, supervises students, works with sponsors, creates startups, and does public outreach.
CBA was launched by a National Science Foundation award in 2001 to create a unique digital fabrication facility. These include electron microscopes and focused ion beam probes for nanostructures, laser micromachining and X-ray micro tomography for microstructures, and multi-axis machining and 3D printing for macrostructures. These tools are supported by instrumentation for processing and characterizing materials and devices.
CBA’s projects involve collaborations with researchers from across MIT’s campus and around the world.
The Fab lab XL (Brussels)
The fablab is run by the departments IWT, (industrial engineering), and MULTEC,(multimedia), at the Erasmushogeschool Brussels.
The lab is oriented towards practical prototyping of robots and mechatronic systems for students of mechanical and electronic engineering, as well as the creation of wind tunnel models for masters students in aeronautical technology.
With the MULTEC they intend to expand facilities towards MoCap animation, 3D-scanning, and visualisation
Champagne-Urbana Community Fab Lab (Illinois, USA)
It welcomes people from all age and skills level to explore their creative potentials. It is an open-community workshop equipped with high-tech devices and computer-controlled equipment. It has a rich network of resources, providing free use of equipment especially to kids and teens. Partner schools, non-profit organizations and public libraries have learned so much at what they can do with these devices and how to use their creations in their workplace. They also offer tutorials, starting from the very basic skills to the most complicated ones, ensuring that each lab user gets to manipulate the devices and equipment to achieve the desired results. Some of the most notable creation coming from the confines of this fab lab are monster and action heroes in 3D prints, DustDuino, a device measuring the amount of particulate matter in the air, cheesecake platters, lasercut dice roller and Christmas tree ornaments.
Makelab (Michigan, USA)
It is a fab lab created by students for the students. It was founded by James Stevens as a venue for entrepreneurial start-ups. From its inception, MakeLab has taken great strides and now holds lectures and workshops in different parts around the world. It teems of a variety of projects ranging from gift shop particularly created for an existing gallery; a welcome ceiling which uses less materials while increasing shade on the area with very intense sunlight penetration among other projects.
FabLab Cali (Colombia)
It is an open space for all doers – kids, students, parents, teachers, hobbyists, die-hard inventors. It also regularly holds workshops to the members of the community on how to maximize the potential of their equipment; generate and share design ideas and how to be socially involved by innovating. Its gallery boasts of wonderful creations that stokes the curiosity of people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Happy Lab (Vienna, Austria)
It is equipped with numerous tools and electronic devices to help you build your project or construct your business prototype. It also has a lounge where creative minds meet and discuss ideas over a cup of coffee. It is kids-friendly, offering workshops to children between 10-15 years old, exposing them to the wonders of digital technology.
Mobile fab lab
Trailer housing computers, computerized devices and production equipment which travels from one place to another. Mobile fab labs are often borrowed by organizations or areas where they aim to set up their own fab lab in the future.
Technological advancement and innovations are more imminent when in the presence of a fab lab, where limitations are significantly reduced and possibilities are heightened. The good thing about most fab labs is they do not discriminate: whether you have experience in inventing and innovating things or not, you are most welcome.
Looking back at this reading, we have learned that:
- Fab lab ‘s are small workplaces equipped with modern day devices and equipment allowing users to fashion anything they want.
- Fab lab ‘s are present in several countries around the world. Some are even placed in underserved countries to help the community explore the potentials of their creativity and innovativeness.
- Products created in these laboratories defy norms and conventions. It has become a venue for people to test their theories, build alternatives and solve day-to-day problems.
- Entrepreneurs who typically do not have full access to these equipment may now improve their products or build product prototypes inside a fab lab.
Taking advantage of the technology provided by fab lab ‘s afford us to learn and discover new things, explore new horizons that may even take us by surprise. It also offers solutions to several issues and opens the community’s eyes to alternative but wonderful ideas.