Fab Lab Manchester Visit, 19th April 2012
On Thursday 19th April 2012, we paid a visit to the Fab Lab in Manchester with a party consisting of Fraser and myself from Kind of Digital, Nicola Radford and Angela Driver from Lincolnshire County Council, and two of the staff from The Boatshed in Mablethorpe.
The Fab Labs operate in locations globally including in Afghanistan, India and Africa.
What is a Fab Lab?
The Fab Lab is simply a small-scale workshop offering opportunities for people to use digital equipment for production, fabrication or usage. Typical technologies which consist in Fab Labs include a number of digital fabrication tools for rapid prototyping many of which have become used by jewellery makers and creatives interested in diversifying what they produce and realising designs which ordinarily be possible from any other method.
To become a Fab Lab, there are a number of basic principles to adhere to:
- open access to digital tools for personal expression and invention: it must be open to the public for free or in-kind service/barter at least part of the time each week.
- Fab Labs support and subscribe to the fab lab charter: which should be published somewhere on the website and also in the fab lab.
- Fabs Labs share a common set of tools and processes and there’s a list of open source software and freeware that we use online as well (embedded in fab academy modules). Technologies include 3D Printers and Scanners, Desktop Vinyl Cutters, molding and casting, electronics design and production.
- Each Fab Lab has the opportunity to participate in a Fab Academy program, which provides training opportunities on how to operate digital machinery through hands-on curriculum and access to technological tools and resources.
The Fab Lab is also part of the global Fab Lab / Fab Academy network with the opportunity to link into its global, knowlege-sharing community. The idea is that all the labs can share knowledge, designs, and collaborate across international borders.
Fab Lab Manchester was celebrating its 2nd birthday of operation and presented a number of works by creatives and designer makers who had made use of its many technologies. The Fab Lab is spreading the UK with a recent opening in Aidale, Yorkshire and a number of additional Fab Labs are opening in 2012 including in Ellsemere Port and Wrexham, each with their own local focus and dynamic.