What is a Fab Lab?

“Give ordinary people the right tools, and they will design and build the most extraordinary things.” – Prof Neil Gershenfeld, MIT

What is a FabLab?

FabLabs are the educational outreach component of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), an extension of its research into digital fabrication and computation. A FabLab is a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent. To be a FabLab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers and innovators- -a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones.

All FabLabs share common tools and processes, and a product that can be produced in a lab in the UK should be easily replicable at any other lab worldwide. The current list of equipment can be found here.  All FabLabs are local and independent.  Neither the global Fab Foundation, nor Fab Foundation UK have any authority over any Fab Lab. However, each of these two charities has a President and Chair Person for registration with the relevant national bodies in the USA and UK respectively.

FabLabs democratise the manufacturing process. Using technological advancements such as 3D printing, FabLabs provide the tools and expertise necessary for anybody to realise their wildest inventions.

The Fab Charter

The Fab Charter

What are FabLabs?

Fablabs form a global network of independent local labs, enabling invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication. All FabLabs are self-governing organisations, Fab Foundation UK has no role in the governance of any individual FabLab.

What’s in a FabLab?
FabLabs share an evolving inventory of core capabilities to make (almost) anything, allowing people and projects to be shared

What does the FabLab network provide?
Operational, educational, technical, logistical advice and some supplementary financial assistance for equipment.

Who can use a FabLab?
FabLabs are available as a community resource, offering open access for individuals as well as scheduled access for differing age and interest groups

What are your responsibilities?
Safety: not hurting people or damaging machines
Operations: assisting with cleaning, maintaining, and improving the lab
Knowledge: contributing to documentation and instruction

Who owns FabLab inventions?
Designs and processes developed in FabLabs can be protected and sold as an inventor chooses; but remain available for others to use and learn from

How can businesses use a FabLab?
Any type of invention can be explored, prototyped and or incubated in a FabLab, but they must not conflict with other uses. Once it has been determined that a particular area of exploration should be treated as a commercial entity then that activity must be removed from any given FabLab and developed as a start-up business. Fab Foundation UK will remind Associate Members of this responsibility semi-annually (i.e. every six months). They should grow beyond rather than within the lab, and they are expected to benefit the inventors, labs, and networks that contribute to their commercial success.

This version of the Fab Charter has been edited for FabFoundationUK.


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