Personal Fabricators

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Definition

From Stefan Merten at Oekonux:

Fabbers are universal fabrication machines which materialize three-dimensional things from digital data, typically by "baking" some amorphous, fine-grained material to allow for the constructing of things which are difficult to create otherwise.

Today they are used mostly for building models

Fabbers have some interesting features:


  • Link digital data and material world closely: Bringing the logic of digital data to the material world
  • Universal for (parts of) material production: Like computers for information: "One machine to rule them all"
  • Allow material production for individual needs, hence the concept of Personal Fabricators


Related Concepts

Rapid Prototyping is the more official term. Also used are “free-form fabrication,” “layered manufacturing,” and “3D Printing,”.

See also our entry on Rapid Manufacturing

Context

The next big thing in computers will be literally outside the box, as we bring the programmability of the digital world to the rest of the world. (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/gershenfeld03/gershenfeld_index.html)


"What if you could design and produce your own products, in your own home, with a machine that can be used to make almost anything? Imagine if you didn't have to wait for a company to sell the product you wanted but could use your own personal fabricator to create it instead. Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, believes that personal fabricators will allow us to do just that and revolutionize our world.

His most recent book, FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication, explores the ability to design and produce your own products, in your own home, with a machine that combines consumer electronics with industrial tools. Such machines, Personal fabricators, offer the promise of making almost anything-including new personal fabricators and as a result revolutionize the world just as personal computers did a generation ago." (http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail460.html)


Examples and Techniques

In the article, Personal Fabrication for Dummies: 10 different techniques are explained and shown in video illustrations. Examples, with linked company sites, are given for each technique.

Examples:

  1. http://www.rapidobject.com/
  2. http://www.protomold.com/
  3. http://www.3d-copy.de/
  4. http://www.protocam.com/html/video.html/


More Information

  1. Digital Fabrication Primer
  2. Fab Labs at MIT, at http://cba.mit.edu/projects/fablab
  3. Personal Fabrication tag in Delicious, maintained by Samuel Rose, at http://del.icio.us/srose/personalfabrication
  4. The RepRap Project
  5. Videos on Personal Fabrication

Also:

  1. Stereolithography
  2. Desktop Manufacturing

Key Book to Read

Neil Gershenfeld. FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication. MIT Press, 2005