Forget “Do It Yourself”:
Fab Labs are about

Do It Together

  • Fab Lab: noun, Fabrication Laboratory.  A fully-kitted workshop giving you the power to turn ideas and concepts into reality.
  • Fab Labs give people back “The Power of Making“.
  • Fab Labs foster the entrepreneurial  spirit, by providing the space, equipment and help to rapidly turn ideas into working prototypes.

What is a Fab Lab?  What Can I Do There?  Who Benefits?

Three different videos: three different takes.  Which one works for you? (Expand them to full screen by clicking the rectangle in the bottom right of the video.)

Fab Labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. They began in the Centre for Bits and Atoms” at MIT, and have now spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway.

What Happens in a Fab Lab?

  • Reconnect with the satisfaction of making things:
    “Technological Empowerment” for the whole community: children, adults, seniors, businesses, schools, colleges, academia
  • Work together on projects, gaining technical training along the way
  • Work with your local community to solve local problems
  • Get help for your businesses to branch out into new fields, quickly and cheaply
  • Develop and research brand news ideas.

Around the world people in Fab Labs are working on solar and wind-powered turbines, new IT ideas, new ideas for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines(!)

Who Are Fab Labs UK?

We are a group of people who are passionate about regaining the ability to make stuff, and concerned that the UK is rapidly falling behind in the introduction of Fab Labs.

Our mission is to mobilise the innate technical creativity in the UK, by getting industry, commerce, academia, and local and national government behind us, and creating a network of 50 Fab Labs across the UK within the next five years.

The Fab Lab Charter

What is a fab lab?

Fab labs are a global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication

What’s in a fab lab?

Fab labs share an evolving inventory of core capabilities to make (almost) anything, allowing people and projects to be shared

What does the fab lab network provide?

Operational, educational, technical, financial, and logistical assistance beyond what’s available within one lab

Who can use a fab lab?

Fab labs are available as a community resource, offering open access for individuals as well as scheduled access for programs

What are your responsibilities?

  • safety: not hurting people or machines
  • operations: assisting with cleaning, maintaining, and improving the lab
  • knowledge: contributing to documentation and instruction

Who owns fab lab inventions?

Designs and processes developed in fab labs can be protected and sold however an inventor chooses, but should remain available for individuals to use and learn from

How can businesses use a fab lab?

Commercial activities can be prototyped and incubated in a fab lab, but they must not conflict with other uses, they should grow beyond rather than within the lab, and they are expected to benefit the inventors, labs, and networks that contribute to their success.

Background to Fab Labs

Here’s the founder of the Fab Lab idea, describing it in Manchester:

Here’s Professor Neil Gerschenfeld at TED.

26 Responses to About

  • Pingback: The Launch of Fab Labs UK | Fab Labs UK

  • I was so excited when I heard about Fab Labs on BBC radio 4. The idea is brilliant. Any possibility of getting one in the north of Scotland? Here in Caithness we have an interesting combination of high tech science and engineering with Dounreay and the growing renewable energy sector and a long tradition of improvising and maintaing mechanical equipment from agriculture–often overlooked but still an important part of both economy and culture of Caithness and highlands.

    I have started a social enterprise using knitting to help people get or stay smart because doing things with our heads has implications far beyond the task at hand. I don’t think I have skills even with a lot of help to do what I would like in Fab lab, so I will pass along my wee idea here in the hopes that someone will pick it up.

    I’d like some simple gearing mecxhanisms that would allow a latter day scarecrow to move counter to the prevailing winds or in the absence of any wind. Birds adjust to repeated patterns and know well the difference between flapping in the wind and moving, but if the patterns were varied, delayed in response to wind or even moved counter to wind then they could be successful. Mechanism should be simple enough to install in place or maybe even instructions on how to adapt bicycle wheels or other excess parts would be great. Although I imagine scarecrows here in Caithness, the principle could apply to any place where birds can make too much damage to crops. This would be not harmful to birds and could be a great application of solar and or wind energy.
    Sharon Pottinger

  • Eddie Kirkby says:

    Dear James,

    Firstly let me allay your concerns that the UK is rapidly falling behind in the introduction of Fab Labs – we are supporting the opening of 3 new Fab Labs opening in the UK early next year in Keighley, Belfast and Londonderry and are working with many more who are still in the planning stages.

    The Manufacturinng Institute (who run the Manchester Fab Lab) are currently working with MIT to create the UK & Ireland Fab Lab Network which will be in operation in 2012.

    The cold reality is that to introduce a financially sustainable Fab Lab can cost up to £300,000 over 3 years but we are talking to funding organisations and local & national goverment to spread the word about Fab Labs, including 2 events we have hosted in the past 12 months at the House of Lords .

    So please continue to enthuse about Fab Labs and spread the word where possible, but we will be much more successful if we all work together and don’t, as you put it, each try re-inventing the wheel.

    Best regards
    Eddie Kirkby

  • site says:

    Have you considered including a few social bookmarking buttons to these sites. At least for flickr.

  • Appreciate your excellent writeup. This job once were a new entertainment accounts the idea. Seem sophisticated in order to more provided acceptable of your stuff! Even so, exactly how should we stay in touch?

  • Toby Mottram says:

    How do we get involved. I develop new agritechnology and would love to get students expressing their ideas in hardware.

  • Your site is awesome!

  • How do you set up a Fab lab?

  • melissa waters says:

    This is amazing! I found out about you from the BBC news story a few days ago. Could you let me know where the other Fab Labs are please. Would be really interested in investigating how/where we could possibly set one up near to us in Norfolk and maybe visit one.
    Many thanks
    Melissa Waters

  • Drew York says:

    Wonderful! I’m looking to explore using 3d printers to “print sounds” for an exhibition in Rochester at the end of january. I’d love to visit a makerspace if there’s one in Kent.


  • charles brandram jones says:

    Hi James, just discovered your site ,very provoking .
    How many fab labs have been started/built already in the UK ?
    I’ve just started as a mature student (57) at Wolverhampton University doing an applied art glass design course, having already been a clock restorer, engineer ,self builder and draughtsman plus many other interests .
    [ My dream is to build a glass clock without gears all in glass , bearings everything , hope to make it more interesting and better designed than my friends clock Philip Woodward ,look at his book ,’My Own Right Time’. Why glass nothings hidden and it is to run without lubricants too, John Harrison would be blown away ]

    These fab labs are desperately needed but I see the quicker way of getting into people being able to use this sort of facility might be to set up something that would be like ‘free fab up UK’ , i.e. that is to have a register of people who have free/excess machining facilities or design facilities that they are prepared to lend/share to people ( cuts out the bureaucracy and its already there ).
    I’ve got lathes etc from CazeneuveHBX360 ,Wahli multi78 , Schaublin 102 & 70 ,Lorch watchmakers lathe 8&6mm , Deckel Kf1&12 ,all fully equipped and a Moore jig grinder plus plumbing welding building tools as well. There is no way I can use these all at once ! I’d happily trade somebody to show them how to use these machines if they give me instruction on how to use a computer effectively and be able to drive ‘solid works’. I only switched on my laptop for the first time in four days ago ,having been a complete novice and a dinosaur !
    I have friends who have things such as spark eroders, wire eroders , laser cutters , laser welders , cnc machining ,water jet cutters .Some who are world class instrument makers ,engravers , boat builders ,cabinet makers ,microlite builders ,blacksmiths ,machine designers etc .
    All who now see that we are losing the ability to make things in this country because we don’t have any free workshops , and the number of people with ‘shed skills’ is disappearing fast ; to many buy and bung without knowing how it works and don’t care , it has to change .
    One of my friends father was LTC Rolt and one letter in the Times ended up with with the railway and waterways preservation societies , vintage sports car club and Prescott Hillclimb ,its not impossible ,and Sonia was brilliant too .
    It’s time for something to be done , have you approached James Dyson or not ;he’s always banging on about the need for engineers/designeers .
    Thomas Heatherwick ?
    I know the newcomen society want to do something like this too ,lets bang heads and see what can be done , their surely are many mass media sites that can be used to achieve this , but it needs somewhere to ‘ hang it on’; are you up for it you seem the best place to do it ?
    I’m happy to stick my neck out and try.
    My New Year’s resolution was to ‘get up’ rather than ‘put up’ I hope I am not giving you too much of a headache .
    all the best for now Charlie BJ

  • charles brandram jones says:

    Hi James
    just noticed I’ve spelt my name wrong in my first in my email address and please find the correct spelling above (missed the m )
    and my phone number is 07802 584 788
    and please publish my email address it might get things moving faster
    thanks Charles Brandram Jones

  • Pete Machell says:

    I am looking at the feasibility of setting up a FabLab in Southwest Scotland. I already have GSP CNC software and machinery which I have added to my furniture-making workshop but I would like to look at forming an open source digital design and production lab for the local community, students, pupils, entrepreneurs, etc.
    How can I start with Fab Lab UK ???

  • Hello James, I am trying to set up a community factory in my village in Hertfordshire. The derelict building I’d like to repurpose for my ‘drop in and work, get paid into your Post Office account at the end of the day’ has been empty for over two years, while our local CC try to negotiate a non-starter of a deal with developers, and I’m wondering if we could have a Fab Lab partly as factory and partly as design team. (I had planned to have ‘brain-storming afternoons’ where we ‘play’ with industrial off-cuts from the brilliant Watford Recycling Arts Project, to design things to sell. Would like to send you outline of factory protocol, who it’s for, what work will be on offer. Can you let me have an email? Look forward to hearing, and thank you Nina Hoskins of Watford Chamber of Commerce for spotting Fab Lab.

  • Lou says:


    Love the whole idea and ethos of FabLabs and would love to start a Fablab. How should one go about it, please?

    Eagerly looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks & Kind Regards,


  • Mark says:

    I work with a group that grew out of the local (Bournemouth) reprap (3d printers) user group. We run workshops and host open project nights and are currently homeless after a year long residency in a (now closed) craft/makers cafe. To that end we are exploring any & all options to start our own Maker space/Fablab and would be interest in any help/ideas/pointers, particularly with raising funds.



  • This Fab Lab sounds interesting. Can you also send me an email on how to get involved?

  • Hi their, I would like to make contact with people who are interested in technology, please see my web site, 1. I have lots of ideas that people may like to take up free of costs, 2, I may be able to help others, 3 I am looking for help in different disciplines to help in my projects, if you wish you can ring me on 01686 670 756, My own interests are of a high tech nature, you may post this on your forum / website if you wish.

    kind regards Tony

  • Monish Makwana says:

    I was wondering how the services you provide work. Is it a one off fee for the day to use the tools provided in the workshop? Or do the prices vary in terms what you will need to use within the workshop?

    If you could let me know as soon as possible I would be greateful.


  • Hello, this is an answer to Melissa Waters from a post last year to say that there is a Hackspace in Norwich which meets at Norwich men’s Shed on Monday and Wednesday evenings (Wednesdays by arrangement if you are not a member). We started in June 2015 and are building membership steadily. A hackspace differs (as I understand it) from a FabLab in that it grows organically from a community of members who all contribute to running costs though a monthly contribution rather than a big initial investment into premises and equipment. There is also talk about a FabLab at UEA but as someone said earlier in the thread, it can take a lot of money to get one going – but it may happen. A few years ago there was talk of one at NUA too so we have started with a bottom-up approach. We have a website, a Facebook page and a Meetup group so please get in touch by googling Norwich Hackspace – we welcome new members!

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