The Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small scale workshop with the tools 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.
Examples of flexible manufacturing equipment within a fab lab:
* Laser cutter, plasma cutter and water jet cutter - sheet material cutting
* CNC machines - computer controlled mills, lathes etc
* Rapid prototyper - essentially 3D printing with plastic
* Printed circuit board milling
The fab lab program was started in the Media Lab at MIT, a collaboration between the Grassroots Invention Group and the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, broadly exploring how the content of information relates to its physical representation, and how a community can be powered by technology at the grassroots level. 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 world wide (with the exception of the mobile fab lab).
Source: fablab.nlAdded: 18 September 2008