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What is a Fab Lab?

A Fab Lab, or Fabrication Laboratory, is a creative hub where inventors and entrepreneurs bring ideas to life. Equipped with digital fabrication tools like 3D printers, these labs democratize the invention process, fostering innovation and education. Imagine a space where your wildest design dreams can become tangible realities. Ready to explore how a Fab Lab can ignite your creativity?
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Short for "fabrication laboratory", a fab lab is an automated manufacturing appliance that produces solid objects using raw materials (shredded plastic, silicon, wood chips, etc.) and computer instructions. Best thought of as a 3D printer, a fab lab could one day take the power of fabrication out of the manufacturing industry and put it into the hands of businesses and eventually consumers. Since the cost of raw materials would be negligible, a fab lab could drop the cost of manufacturing to the cost of power and the design only.

In late 2004, the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms created a fab lab consisting of three Linux PCs, a laser cutter, a combination 3-D scanner and drill, a numerically controlled X-Acto knife, and a handful of RISC chips. It has successfully fabricated not only simple plastic products such as eyeglass frames and action figures, but also electronics such as small radios and computers. Funded by Degussa AG, a large German manufacturing and construction company, Behrokh Khoshnevis of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has spent 2003 onward developing a system intended to construct a full-size, 2,000 square-foot house with utilities embedded, all in under 24 hours.

Fab lines may replace assembly lines in the future.
Fab lines may replace assembly lines in the future.

In the near future, fab labs might be used to eliminate costly assembly lines and produce cheap products of consistently high quality. Mass produced fab labs could be distributed in developing countries to leapfrog centralized industral infrastructures and enable localized consumer markets. File-sharing communities, much like those that exist today for music and movies, could emerge surrounding the demand for free fabrication designs. This could prompt numerous legal battles and a change in the way we look at intellectual property and patent law.

Also known as a 3D printer, fabrication laboratory, or “fab lab,” is an automated manufacturing appliance that produces solid objects using raw materials and computer instructions.
Also known as a 3D printer, fabrication laboratory, or “fab lab,” is an automated manufacturing appliance that produces solid objects using raw materials and computer instructions.

One day, it might become possible to create a fab lab so flexible that it can manufacture any conceivable product under a certain size, including other fab labs. Hypothetical fab labs that build products from the atoms up, using molecular scale machinery, have been called nanofactories. When the cost of a fab lab drops low enough that they are affordable to the typical consumer remains unknown, but when that time comes, it is certain that the world system will change significantly.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime AboutMechanics contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Learn more...
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime AboutMechanics contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Learn more...

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    • Fab lines may replace assembly lines in the future.
      By: gmg9130
      Fab lines may replace assembly lines in the future.
    • Also known as a 3D printer, fabrication laboratory, or “fab lab,” is an automated manufacturing appliance that produces solid objects using raw materials and computer instructions.
      By: Monkey Business
      Also known as a 3D printer, fabrication laboratory, or “fab lab,” is an automated manufacturing appliance that produces solid objects using raw materials and computer instructions.