Fab Lab Home Fires 2015

Fab Lab 2015

A Fab Lab (or Fabrications Laboratory), is a concept originally dreamt up by Neil Gershenfeld at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT). A Fab Lab is a facility (building) that houses the basic machinery required to make (in Gershenfeld’s words) “just about anything”. It is Gershenfeld’s belief that personal fabrication is on the rise, and soon enough, the world technologically enabled (anyone with a computer) will be able to download and print their own personal 3-dimensional objects. These may include the latest i-phone, running shoes, and at some stage, even a car.
Personal fabrication therefore encompasses the design, prototyping and three-dimensional printing of one’s ideas.

The South African government has realised the potential of this, and as a result, has installed Fab Labs all around the country. The closest lab is situated in Thokosa, a township situated south of Johannesburg. Local Fab Labs are expected to facilitate local and innovative technology development in an open source fashion. This means that a person who designs and fabricates their idea is required to leave behind a set of instructions that teaches other people how to re-make or generate an iteration of the artefact in return for using the facilities, knowledge and material that are provided for free by the Labs.

The problem, however, is that the Lab in Thokosa does not have a vast database of instruction materials from which to make or learn about the process of fabrication. One of the other problems with the lab is that users do not necessarily use the provided machinery in combination in order to realise the full potential of the facilities (which is... to make just about anything). As a result, users leave the facilities with a limited understanding about the potential of the labs, and do not use it to maximum benefit.


Our main objective is to prevent or reduce fires in informal homes caused by candles

We aim to produce a stand capable of safely securing a candle, preventing it from accidentally being knocked over

The product will be created in a FabLab, solely using materials available in the respective FabLab

Supporting documentation (e.g. an instruction manual and the laser printing files) will be compiled for use by current and future FabLab users

We hope and believe that the simplicity of this products serves as a gateway to knowledge for all those who choose to fabricate the existing model, make alterations, or improve it


Our first prototypes were cut from cardboard, simply because the material was readily available, and fairly easy to cut. The second prototype used pre-determined slots to adjust the positions of the individual ribs. In an attempt to circumvent the use of bulky fins, we produced a variant using a (proposed) sliding mechanism

Our design came about through the idea of human hands and rib cadges which could hold a candle and prevent it from falling over.

Our design was put together to prevent shack fires and at the same time it was altered to be a Morden design which could be attracting and at the same time it should be able to live in the world out there.

We used the Fab Lab to construct our design as we faced a lot of challenges such as the machinery we very limited as such as we had to wait a while to actually get over design resolved.