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
We created a tool that aids in the recycling process that ties in with FabLab. We focuses on Informal system already recycling plastic – “independent recyclers” or “trolley men”.
Trolley Men – Difficulties
• Hills –
• Strain when travelling on inclines
WHAT WE DID
Self-Braking System: Automatic one-way ratchet and pawl brake system for trolley wheels.
• Made lives of plastic recyclers safe
• Taught people how to use laser cutter at FabLab – fabrication through laser cutting
• More people into FabLab – target plastic collectors
• Potential aim: create a business idea for someone else in the community
• Investigated potential of designing to empower
• Created problems for FabLab users to solve