Dr Julie Madigan
Chief Executive of The Manufacturing Institute
What is a Fab Lab?
• The Fab Lab Initiative is an Educational Outreach Project from MIT.
• A Fab Lab is a fully Kitted Fabrication Workshop capable of supporting
single user production of ideas, from inception through to prototyping.
• The Fab Lab allows for innovative manufacturing and creation in
underdeveloped and financially challenged areas.
• The Fab Lab transforms people from Consumers to Producers.
• Fab Labs have been opened world-wide, and further partnerships with
developing countries are being explored.
• Objective: To empower individuals, rather than institutions, to be
able to make almost anything.
A Global Community
International community linked through a common purpose
Fab Lab Charter
What’s in a Fab Lab
‘a factory in a box’
• A collection of off-the-shelf, industrial-grade fabrication and electronics
tools, wrapped in open source software and programs written by MIT.
• Currently the labs include a NC Mill, Vinyl Cutter, Laser Cutter, Plasma
Cutter/Wood Router, Electronic components and tools & CAD/CAM
Software developed by MIT.
CAD/CAM Design &
Molding & Casting
3D Printing &
Waterjet / Laser
Minimill, Vinyl Cutter
What Can it Make?
• Almost anything, limited only by your imagination.
• Generally the Fab Labs create 2D parts which are assembled into 3D
objects. The Lab machines are classified as Subtractive i.e. they
Plan & Design
Who uses Fab Labs?
• Individuals who wish to see their ideas or concepts become a reality
or simply just make things they’d like to make
• Inventors and entrepreneurs who wish to test or market their ideas
with tangible, working prototypes
• Community groups designing and making products to help in their
• Start-up companies wishing to develop their products
• Micro engineering or manufacturing businesses
• Teachers and students working on design
competitions or educational workshops
What can it do?
• The first UK Fab Lab opened in Manchester 3 years ago.
• Fab Lab Manchester has interacted with over 4,000 children, 20
community groups and many schools.
• There are over 1,500 regular Fab Lab Manchester users, several of
whom have set up their own successful companies based around
networks, products and techniques developed in the Lab.
• The model has now been replicated successfully with 7 Labs open
throughout the UK and Ireland with support from The Manufacturing
• Fab Lab Ellesmere Port was officially opened by Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable
on 31 October and has had over 300 individual users since September
More things you can make
Community Lab Example
Fab Labs come in any shape and size,
they can be tailored to suit the specific
location. Generally the more space
available the better as it allows for greater
access and a safer working environment,
however this is generally traded against
Rent & Operating costs where those are
The Lab shown is the South End Technical
Center, a Community Based Lab in
It is approx 600 Sq Ft and is used by
approx 50 people per day.
3D milling machines
Sewing and embroidery
Soldering irons, drills, general
• Empowerment of individuals through the capability to produce their
• Problem solving to support key agenda items such as transport
(TIF), environmental technologies, sport, etc
• Development of technological and creative skills and education
• Creation of new SMEs & new jobs
• Stimulation of the local economy
through partnering with local
suppliers and manufacturers