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What's a Fab Lab?
ShopBot has been involved in the innovative and progressive FabLab agenda for many years, supplying a ShopBot digital fabrication tool (CNC router) as an integral component of FabLabs, including Mobile FabLabs that tour the country.
What's a FabLab and what is the mission of FabLabs?
Originating from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, FabLabs bring the technologies of digital fabrication to people in smaller U.S. communities and in developing countries around the world, giving people the technological tools that can enable them to leapfrog into 21st century lean manufacturing for the betterment of their local communities.
“FabLab is a perfect fit for ShopBot,” said Ted Hall, ShopBot’s founder and CEO. “We’re focused on technology and education,” he said, “and we’re proud to be participating in this incredible effort to support innovation and manufacturing through the use of technology.”
Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. Activities in fab labs range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.
Fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. This currently includes:
- A computer-controlled lasercutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
- A ShopBot CNC milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts
- A signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
- A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards
- Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors
In ShopBot's home state of North Carolina, FabLabs Carolinas are hoping to generate funding for FabLab installations across North Carolina. They believe FabLabs will give a wide range of people "the ability to conceptualize, design, develop, fabricate and test almost anything they can create. From new games to robots to whatever the users can imagine, the Fab lab puts priceless equipment, typically out of reach for most, into the hands of anyone, with the goal of creating innovative ideas, products and services to enrich our community and world."Learn more about FabLabs here.