[Edu-sig] Python-powered Fab labs the next big thing?

Dethe Elza delza at livingcode.org
Thu Sep 28 16:18:44 CEST 2006

Hi Paul,

Thanks for pointing out the article, I hadn't seen that one.  The Fab  
Labs have also been featured in Make Magazine, Wired, the Economist,  
Business Week and Science Friday and Neil Gershenfeld has a book out  
on them:


Also, the 2002 class "How to Make (almost) Anything" is available  
under MIT's Open Courseware program:

The FAQ has some good links: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/forum/faq1.htm

There is now a Fab Central page at the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms:  
http://fab.cba.mit.edu/, and the tools page lists software resources,  
many in Python.

There is a ton of info out there.  The estimated cost of a new Fab  
Lab is $25,000 USD.  I'm hoping my new job will at some point sponsor  
one, or at least provide space for one.  Open source desktop  
manufacturing is on its way.


On 27-Sep-06, at 6:00 PM, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:

> Dethe Elza posted about Fab Labs on this list in 2005.
>     http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2005-April/004676.html
> A year later, here is a mainstream new article on them:
>    "'Fab labs' deliver high-tech tools: MIT's fabrication  
> laboratories aim
> to help developing communities find innovative solutions to local  
> needs."
>    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0927/p16s01-stct.html
> Excerpts:
> ...
> MIT opened the first international Fab Lab in Costa Rica four years  
> ago
> and has sponsored nine others since then. Meanwhile, many more labs  
> have
> opened on their own. "They're just sort of popping up," Lassiter says.
> "It's a good idea, and people want to do it."
> That's what is happening in South Africa, where the government has a
> stated goal of improving the country's science, technology, and
> manufacturing capabilities.
> ...
> "The high concept is to get these into the communities," says Naas
> Zaayman, who runs the Innovation Hub Fab Lab for Advanced  
> Manufacturing
> Technology Strategy, a government program created to spread science  
> and
> technology. "It's the idea that if you're somewhere in rural South  
> Africa,
> and you want something for solar energy, you can go to a Fab Lab  
> and make
> your own."
> ...
> Justinos Nkutshwev is one of the regulars. He sits at a computer,  
> using
> the mouse to manipulate lines on a graphics program. He is building  
> a bus,
> he says, and a generator to make it run. He is 15 years old and  
> never used
> a computer before he came to the Fab Lab a few months ago. Now, he  
> works
> with the lab's machines twice a week. "I come here because I can make
> interesting things," he says.
> Although the lab technically closes at 5 p.m., the staff regularly  
> keeps
> it open hours later. Sometimes teenagers show up at staff members'  
> houses
> on Sunday, begging them to unlock the doors.
> "They say 'We need to finish our projects, can you please open?' "
> Nkadimeng says. "It's great to see them so eager. There's no way to  
> say no."
> ===
> Looks like they use Python too:
> http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/158007275731/m/ 
> 615004070831
> "We primarly use the computer in each Fab Lab for running our computer
> aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM). Our main 3D tool is  
> (pictured on the left above) which we are extending in Python (for
> example, see cad.blend) for use with our specific audiances. We  
> also use
> SDRAW and PSTOEDIT for 2D design."
> http://cba.mit.edu/projects/fablab/tools.html
> Anyway, just fodder for the imagination -- nice having Python running
> these things.
> --Paul Fernhout
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