Bloemfontein FabLab – Think it, Make it.
The Bloemfontein FabLab was established in 2006 by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It is a concept that originated as the educational outreach component of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) NSF-funded Centre for Bits & Atoms (CBA). A FabLab consists of a suite of off-the-shelf, industrial grade, digital fabrication tools, an electronics workbench, computers, programming tools, and is supported by open source design software.
The FabLab is a small-scale version of a production factory. While the FabLab cannot be used to manufacture thousands of assembly-line products, it can be used by any individuals to create prototypes from arts and crafts to engineering and architecture models. Computer based design or drawing software is used to create designs that are then automatically manufactured by an appropriate cutting, milling, forming or additive manufacturing machine.
The cross-cutting nature of the fabrication technologies lends itself to basic science, engineering and technology (SET) education, needed to stimulate the “can make” attitude amongst the youth. Public access to the FabLab gives any community a head start in basic engineering and design technologies, and an opportunity to experiment and learn from others while being creative and innovative.
The FabLabs can also be used to enable grassroots inventions by providing a platform where anyone can have access to advanced tools that can help people make products to address local needs. The strength of the FabLab initiative is that users get to complete the concept-design fabricate process to make physical products, i.e. a fully ‘hands-on’ experience. The environment created in the FabLab is that of peer-to-peer learning which enables anyone with or without a technical background to learn and have a space to experiment and, as far as possible, making their imagination tangible.
“Come and translate YOUR ideas into tangibles at the Bloemfontein FabLab”