What’s a Fab Lab?
The Fab Lab philosophy
The Fab Lab concept, an initiative of Neil Gershenfeld from MIT in Boston, is imbued with the DIY philosophy. Fab Labs are spaces for creating, exploring and daring to try almost anything, with a view to helping us learn, become more resilient, and develop and protect our traditional skills. It’s not just the end result that counts, but the road travelled to get there. At the Fab Lab, you leave the regular classroom behind. The Fab Lab is a laboratory where peers work and learn together. Depending on the project, you may work on your own or in a group. In fact, everyone is invited to work on other people’s projects and draw inspiration from them. That said, a Fab Lab isn’t the place to work on top-secret projects, because users are asked to document and share their projects.
The global network of Fab Labs consists of more than 1,500 laboratories open to the public all over the world. That translates into 1,500 workshops where people can develop collaborative projects, advance philosophies and contribute to the growth of their communities. A videoconference system brings members together for various regional events, as well as the annual international Fab Lab Conference.
Because people are more important than tools, you’ll find that when you join a Fab Lab, you also join a community. People go to the Fab Lab to share their knowledge and discuss their projects. DIY doesn’t necessarily mean doing it all alone.
We give you access to a host of tools, which are to be maintained and cared for. Users are responsible for learning how to use the tools and maintain them properly.
What about the digital stuff?
Most of our tools are digital, or computer-controlled. That means you’ll be using design and control software. If you’re new to this, don’t worry! We’re here to help. Just remember: be realistic. Like any new activity, it’ll take practice. The software used at the Fab Lab is free, or open source (patent-free or subject to license sharing agreements). So you can install it on your computer and continue to work from home. No need to come in to the Fab Lab.