What is an open source fabircation laboratory?
FabLabs are community-operated, self-organizing and open manufacturing spaces that deliver an easy access to robust and easy-to-handle means of production and promote their utilization. As open spaces that provide a common place for encountering, learning, experimenting, joint creativity and value co-creation also providing an avenue for cost-effective R&D and an effective means to valorize grassroots bottom-up innovation and promote entrepreneurial empowerment in collaborative settings.
The idea of FabLabs dates back to an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (Cambridge) in the year 2001. It was initially a research project that aimed at exploring the relation between the content of information and its physical representation.
Digital fabrication technologies and tools enable us to study how the functional description of a system can be transformed into materialistic physical forms and vice versa how the characteristics of the physical system can be abstracted and transformed into code. Closely related to the notion of generative manufacturing is the concept of generative or computer-aided design, which refers (in its most general sense) on a practice where humans and computers are co-creating objects using CAD software tools. Regarding socio-technological innovations and transformation processes, this early project also examined the opportunities of technological empowerment of people especially in regions and among people which are excluded from such knowledge and technologies. Based on the famous class of Neil Gershenfield on „How to make (almost) anything“ (2005) the worldwide number of FabLabs and makerspaces increased continuously and has been combined with existing concepts of grassroots technology development and participative economic development.