Fab Lab Wild Card 2017

Fab Lab 2017

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.

Students resolve the design of a prototypable artefact (Fab Lab community), to inspire innovation (attract users to the Lab) and to showcase the potential of the laboratory machinery. This empowers the communities that have access to Fab Labs by allowing potential Lab users to recreate these artifacts, which in the process of making, allows them to evolve the item or create spin offs, as well as understand what the potential of the Fab Lab facilities are.

HOW WE HELPED

The community that this project was aimed at was the people mainly in townships who live around a Fab Lab but also anyone else who might be a potential Fab Lab user. Overall their circumstance is that according to residents of Duduza is that most people are interested in the Fab Lab, but feel that they lack the knowledge to make anything of interest there. Their needs in this regard are then to be able to give them the confidence in knowledge to want to enter the Fab Lab and learn more.

The overarching aim of the Fab Lab project is to firstly create a product that caters to the needs of the community and is made in the Fab Lab. This product should be cost efficient and teach the user about Fab Lab tools and machinery in the process of making it. The particular focus of our Sub Group is to make people’s lives easier specifically within the communities that Fab Labs are situated around.

WHAT WE DID

Living hinge swatches
The living hinge swatches are able to benefit the community by showing them how many different patterns are out there for either a different aesthetic when using a living hinge or to achieve a specific directional bend. The material they are made from also impacts how well they work and the degree to which they can curve.

3D printed joining elements
The 3D printed joining elements that can be used in carpentry and joinery work. They are beneficial to the community as the provide people with a cost effective and non-permanent way to join timber of any thickness. They also allow for an element of creativity and multi-functionality