A fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop offering (personal) digital fabrication. The labs are typically equipped with an array of flexible computer-controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim 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.
The fab lab movement is closely aligned with the DIY, the open source hardware and the free and open source movement, and shares philosophy as well as technology with them.
The following YouTube clip summarises what a Fab Lab is https://youtu.be/lPF7zDSf-LA.
Fab Lab Northampton is one of the first digital fabrication and rapid prototyping workspaces in the East Midlands. The Lab Capabilities include:
- 3D printing
- Circuit production
- Vinyl cutting
The Lab offers a creative space that provides both open and membership based access to digital fabrication tools, education workshops, making events and an empowered vibrant community. The friendly and helpful staff help individuals and companies to learn about the application of digital technologies, rapid software, hardware prototyping and 3D printing.
The Makerspace work with the British Computer Society and the Northampton University to craft individual and community based projects. These projects differ widely but hope to make a substantial contribution in the long term to IoT Farming, IoT Medical and IoT Business. The Fab Lab also work with a growing number of Mental Health charities to create a different environment for patients and carers.
Fab Lab Northampton offer a range of fabrication tools including laser cutters, Ultimaker 3D printers, milling machines, 3D scanners, traditional hand tools (saws, drills, hammers, chisels etc) and CNC machines.
The Lab provides three core services:
1. Shared workspace for schools, colleges, businesses & individuals to work and develop ideas
2. Skills development and technology education through events & workshops
3. Business accelerator, translating innovative concepts into businesses.