Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop for digital fabrication, started by MIT. Fablabs typically have a few digitally controlled manufacturing machines: larger CNC router for furniture and house-sized objects, smaller precision CNC milling machine for making cast molds, engraving different materials or printed circuit boards, laser cutter for cutting and engraving wood, plastic, fabric and other materials, vinyl cutter for making signs, stickers and flexible circuits, video conferencing system to be in continuous touch with other Fablabs, and in many cases also a 3D printer and scanner. This basic set of manufacturing machines enables you to ‘make just about anything’ – this may be a prototype of a product, work of art, and can even contain electronics.
There are now about 50 Fablabs all around the world, with plans for many more on the way. Fablab blueprint dictates the commonalities between labs: standard inventory of machines, work processes, communication pathways and access policies, but each lab can and has interpreted the blueprints to suit the needs of their local community. As peer to peer learning in the way of mutual support in learning to work at the space is at the core of Fablab philosophy, community needs can really shape how an individual lab turns out.
We are currently putting all the pieces together to start the first Finnish Fablab here at Aalto Media Factory: finding local suppliers for the machines and raw materials, designing the space to fit our needs, building the website, educating ourselves about Fablab practices and mingling with other maker-minded groups in Helsinki region (there’s quite a bit going on now that the World Design Capital year is almost at hand). Most of the machines should have arrived by early January, and the grand opening is planned to take place around the beginning of February 2012.
Aalto Fablab adds digital fabrication onto the service menu of the Aalto Media Factory. We aim to provide assistance with digital fabrication and will be offering online scheduling to book time on the Fablab machines (including assistance in machine usage). Part of the Fablab model is also to have the space open to everyone at least the part of the time – we will host open days weekly. Two courses are being organized at the Fablab sprint term 2012 as part of the Media Lab curriculum (but they are open to all Aalto students): Digital Workshop Basics (an intensive hands-on course to get acquainted with the Fablab machines) and Digital Fabrication Studio (offering more background and design context and completion of a more complex project realized using the Fablab machines)
Before we open our doors early next year, you’re most welcome to visit the Fablab space and ask any questions you may have!
Aalto Fablab Studio Master
anu.maatta [at] aalto.fi