This is a report commissioned by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy about personal manufacturing, Fab Labs, and related efforts:
From the report:
This report outlines the emergence of personal manufacturing technologies, describes their potential economic and social benefits, and recommends programs the government should consider to realize this potential.
Personal manufacturing machines, sometimes called “fabbers,” are the pint-sized, low-cost descendants of factory-scale, mass manufacturing machines. Personal-scale manufacturing machines use the same fabrication methods as their larger, industrial ancestors, but are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use. Home-scale machines, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and programmable sewing machines, combined with the right electronic design blueprint, enable people to manufacture functioning products at home, on demand, at the press of a button. In just a few hours, these mini-factory machines can produce a simple object like a toothbrush, or make complex machine components, artisan-style jewelry or household goods. Within a few years, personal manufacturing machines may be sophisticated enough to enable regular people to manufacture complicated objects such as integrated electronic devices.
A number of converging forces are bringing industrial-scale design and manufacturing tools to a tipping point where they will become cheap, reliable, easy, and versatile enough for personal use. The rapid adoption of personal manufacturing technologies is accelerated by low cost machinery, active online user communities, easier-to-use computer aided design (CAD) software, a growing number of online electronic design blueprints, and more easily available raw materials.
Personal manufacturing technologies will profoundly impact how we design, make, transport, and consume physical products. As manufacturing technologies follow the path from factory to home use, like personal computers, “personalized” manufacturing tools will enable consumers, schools, and businesses to work and play in new ways.
From the article:
Community members came together Thursday afternoon for the grand opening of the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, which aims to inspire innovative thinking in the general population.
The lab, which has been open to the public since April, is part of a global network of Fab Labs, which give community members the opportunity to have access to equipment and materials to design and build almost anything they can imagine or want.
The local Fab Lab is a joint effort by the University, Parkland College, the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club and several other community organizations.
Neil Gershenfeld, director of The Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed the first Fab Lab at MIT.
In conjunction with the opening event, Gershenfeld spoke about the role of Fab Labs in empowering ordinary people to create technology.
From the article:
URBANA – Call it a community workshop.
Metalworker Dean Rose came to create templates for making bells. University of Illinois freshmen came to put together a 3-D printer. A young mother came to design items for small kids. And youngsters from the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club came to assemble tin-can robots.
All those projects and more were done at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, which opened earlier this year at 1301 S. Goodwin Ave., U – in a building just south of the UI's College of ACES Library.
Read more: 'Fab Lab' drawing variety of users
From the article:
The Champaign-Urbana Community FabLab will formally open on Thursday, November 11, at 3-5 pm in the FabLab, located in the Art Annex 2, 1301 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, 61801.
This event is open to everyone and will feature hands on activities, welcoming remarks by members of the Lab's Community Leadership Council, and by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms and the founder of the global FabLab network. The mission of the Champaign-Urbana Community FabLab is to promote ingenuity, invention and inspiration by introducing students of any age to modern prototyping and fabrication equipment. Our goal is to encourage creativity as well as an interest in architecture, art, computing, engineering, mathematics, science, and technical trades. Community access, at a reasonable cost, builds local capability with global links to the entire FabLab network — enabling personal growth, economic development and cross-cultural understanding. We encourage people to build virtually anything they can imagine.
LOCAL FAB LAB BRINGS NEW CAPABILITIES TO COMMUNITY
The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab brings digital design and fabrication equipment to the campus community. Located on the campus of the University of Illinois, the Fab Lab is partnering with local schools, the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, Parkland College and many others so that people of all ages can learn to use rapid prototyping equipment.
The formal opening ceremonies will be held on Thursday, Nov. 11 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the lab, located at Art Annex 2, 1301 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, Ill.
The event will feature hands-on activities, a welcome by members of the Lab's Community Leadership Council, and remarks by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and Founder of the Global Fab Lab movement.
Also, Neil Gershenfeld will deliver the DesignMatters lecture "Programming Bits and Atoms: How To Make (almost) Anything" from 6:15 to 8:00 in the Lawrence Plym Auditorium, Room 134, Temple Hoyne Buel Hall (Art and Architecture Building).
Both events are free and open to the public.
Early October saw a mobile fab lab on the Capitol Mall! Hope we can get on this bus too!