I’ve had a mental block about Sketchup for some time, but I think I’m getting the hang of it!

Here’s a short video I made to help people get over the blocks that I had!

Probably the most important parts of the Fab Lab philosophy are the idea of Open Source, and the idea of “Making”. These ideas are often brought together with the idea of a set of Open Source designs that people can use, such as:

Buildings: Wikihouse

WikiHouse is an open source construction set.  The aim is to allow anyone to design, download, and “print” CNC-milled houses and components, which can be assembled with minimal formal skill or training.

Model of the K5054 Spitfire prototype, first flown at Eastleigh aerodrome in March 1936

The picture on the right is of a model of the first prototype Spitfire, which flew at Eastleigh aerodrome in March 1936.  I have called the Fab Lab that I am setting up in Eastleigh the Spitfire Fab Lab, in honour of the plane.

But I have included a  picture of a model of the Spitfire, rather than the real thing, because the wooden base on which the model is standing has been routed (the curved shape round the edges) and it is about routing (say “r -oww-ting”) that I wish to write!

At Spitfire Fab Lab we have three different CNC routers, a baby one (the ShopBot Handibot), a mummy one (the Shopbot Desktop) and a daddy one (The Blackfoot 8×4).  But let’s not rush ahead.  For a moment, never mind what a CNC router is or does, what is a non-computer controlled router, and what can it do.

Check out this short video by the doyen of router experts, Jeremy Broun (while watching the video, enjoy the guitar music, played by Jeremy on a guitar that he built, using a router!)

Well, clearly you can make just about anything with a router … if you happen to be as skilled as Jeremy.  Which I, and most of the rest of us, are not!

When using a router you move it left and right, backwards and forwards, and up and down, carefully and skilfully.  And a computer, linked to the right sort of router, can do that better than most of us!

So, here’s a short video showing a small project that has been made on a ShopBot Desktop.  Notice how he says that he designed the gears on a separate piece of software, then loaded that into the software that comes with the Shopbot machine.  Even Jeremy Broun might find that intriguing, I suspect! (skip forward to 20″ in to get past the titles).

Notice also how he refers to changing the lettering “on the final product” … when you have a CNC router, with the design in software, it becomes much easier to make your product, go back and make some changes in the design, and then make another copy.  You might make the prototypes in a cheap material (pine, say) and the final copy in a better wood, or even in metal.

My friend, Sarah, was curious as to how this all works, and even though our CNC machines haven’t arrived yet, I do have the software, so I can demonstrate that.  My standard demo is to make a name plate, so let’s make one for Sarah.

At the end of the CAD/CAM process above I said that we save the design file, and then send it to the CNC machine.  Well, that could be the CNC machine that’s in my workshop, or it could be any CNC machine anywhere in the world … and this is another big advantage of “21st Century manufacturing” … you can make design files, and send them to other people to actually make.

There’s a website, OpenDesk.cc, where designers create designs and upload them (for free).  If you have a CNC machine, you can download that design and cut it out for yourself (or for someone else).  This is actually a four=person desk: maybe you just want a two-person desk … you can download the design and modify it before you print it out.

But what if you would like a desk like this, but don’t have a CNC machine?  Well, there’s a map showing people all over the world who will do it for you.  How much they will charge will depend on each maker, and what material you choose.

You might choose to have a simple name plate, like Sarah’s above, or a whole house … take a look at our Wikihouse page.

So, what machines do we have?

The “daddy” machine is a “Build Your CNC”  Blackfoot 8×4.  It is capable of cutting an 8′ x 4′ sheet of  ¾” (2.4m x 1.2m x 18mm) structural ply.

It comes as a kit of parts, and I have a few week’s job to build it when it arrives!

It is what we will use to cut the parts to make Wikihouse structures: sheds, greenhouses, garden gazebos, garages, houses … even the buildings to house Fab Labs.

Next is our ShopBot Desktop.

This neat little machine with a cutting area of 24″ x 18″ (.61m x .46m).  However, although you can’t use material wider that 2′ (610mm), there are clever ways of moving longer material through the machine using a registering system.

Here’s Ted Hall, the founder of ShopBot Tools, talking about the Desktop, showing a system for cutting parts from a piece of wood much longer than 18″, and also talking about some other key advantages of CNC.

Lastly there’s our baby CNC, the amazing ShopBot Handibot, what they call a “Smart Handtool”.

When I first saw the Handibot I was blown away by the brilliance of the idea.  And Shopbot talked about having the Handibot made by “distributed manufacturing”  … much like the network of Makers that you could use to make your Open Dek which we talked about above.

I bought the Shopbot Desktop and the Shopbot Handibot because I am very keen to be a “distributed manufacturer” of the Handibot; currently negotiations are at an early stage (not least because they haven’t arrived at the time of writing, early May 2014).  Here’s David Bryan talking about the Handibot:

Signup ButtonHave you ever wanted to look inside your head, to see what’s happening?


Brain waves

Because I have, ever since I first heard about the benefits of meditating, way back in 1974, and I started to read about brain research, I have been wanting to find a way to see inside my own brain to see if I am really meditating!

I read all the cool stuff about how people had refined and improved all sorts of aspects of their lives using alpha rhythms, brain-wave entrainment, meditation, mindfullness etc … but I never knew whether I was doing it correctly.

People said it was like learning to ride a bike: you practiced until you got it.  But there’s immediate feedback on a bike: you’re either wobbling down the road, or lying in a hedge with a broken wrist (that’s what happened the first time I tried riding a bike!)  But how do you know if you are meditating, and on the verge of enlightenment, or have merely fallen asleep?

Because now you can!

Conor and Joel

Conor and Joel

Two guys from New York (Joel Murphy and Conor Russomanno) are bringing out (low-cost, easy-to-use) equipment that not only allows us to peer inside our own (or other people’s!) brains, but also to fiddle with the equipment to get it to do stuff the inventors never even considered.

It’s an Open-Source Brain-Computer Interface, that allows us to see, either in real-time, or recorded for later, exactly what’s going on with our brain waves and other mental activity, through a DIY EEG (Electroencephalography — seeing brain waves) and EMG (Electromyography — seeing the electrical activity in certain muscles).

The Wikipedia article on EEGs does point out that you probably get better results from a functional MRI scan, but I’m not holding out for home-based, open-source, DIY magnetic resonance imagers any time soon, so I remain excited by an affordable DIY EEG.

Why would I want to?

HeadsetWell, I don’t know why you would want to, but here’s what other people are doing.  Using it as bio-feedback to improve all sorts of aspects of their health and their lives.  For instance, people are learning to reduce their blood pressure, synchronise their brains with the rest of their bodies through controlling Heart Rate Variability (an interest of mine: I spent two weeks in hospital with atrial fibrillation, and want to learn to control it without drugs–the Open BCI equipment can also be used to monitor your heart rate, as well as brain waves).  People who are totally paralyzed are using BCI to communicate.  Others are learning to control depression and deal with behavioral problems.  I am intending to conduct research to see if I can train my brain to react to food the way a lean person’s brain does.

Is it only about terribly responsible health stuff?

No.  Here’s someone controlling an AR Drone with his mind (I have an AR Drone–I have GOT to try this!):

You could open the curtains, turn on the TV, change the channel, send a Tweet (that’s got to be a little bit complicated!) all using your mind.  Somewhere I saw a clip of someone controlling an R2D2 toy robot using BCI.  I suppose it’s a bit trite to say the only limit is your imagination!

Is it all terribly technical?

Signup ButtonNo.  Yes. Well, it depends how technical you want to be.  The whole point of Open BCI is that it is:

  1. Affordable
  2. Accessible by ordinary mortals
  3. Has a hugely varied community who can all help one another

So, if you want to do something that’s beyond your technical ability, there’s bound to be someone else in the community who would be interested in working with you.  There are some very clever people involved, but they aren’t scary at all!

Are there many other people involved?

Well, OpenBCI have 519 people following their Twitter feed, 947 people backed them on Kickstarter, their Facebook page has 1435 likes.  And they are only just getting going!

And we (FabLabsUK) are one of five research partners around the world:

Based in Rennes and Paris, France,
Mensia Technologies SA is a technology
start-up focused on the wellness
and healthcare applications of
real-time, quantitative neurophysiology.
Melon works on making the invisible activity of the mind visible to help people
understand themselves better.  The Melon team is working on developing their first product, a headband that measures focus and an app that tracks users’ tasks and environment.Check out their Kickstarter project.
de Sa lab at UCSD  Our research goal is to better understand the neural basis of human perception and learning.
We are interested in how we learn, both from a neural and computational point of view.
deSa Lab
 FamiLab FamiLAB in Orlando is Central Florida’s provider of space, tools, and community for creative technical learning and projects.FamiLAB’s mission is to be a community that fosters learning and creativity through hands-on projects, collaboration, and the sharing of skills & tools to improve ourselves and enrich the world around us.

Dr. Liu Xu-Ying’s group is affiliated with the Key Laboratory of Computer Network and Information Integration, MOE, and the School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Their research interests mainly include machine learning and data mining.

 FabLabsUK FabLabsUK exists to promote the Fab Lab movement in the UK.  The FabLabs Research partner to Open BCI is James Hardiman.  I am interested in integrating Open BCI with other sensors, so that we can get integrated bio-feedback that allows us to learn to control Heart Rate Variability (HRV), blood  pressure, sleep cycles, depression, OCD, etc.  I am particularly interested in anything that makes it easy for people to overcome obesity.

OK, Got it.  I’m intrigued! What next (and is it going to cost me an arm and a leg?)

Next is to tell me that you’re interested, what sort of things you’re interested in (bio-hacking, controlling drones, getting slim, switching on the TV without having to remember where you put the remote).

Later this year (no date yet, but I’m thinking either early summer or early autumn) there will be a two-day workshop/hackathon, in the UK, led by the inventors, Joel and Conor.

At that workshop you will get your own Open BCI kit, and you will learn how to use it.  We will all be working on our own projects, and will share what we do.

And no, it won’t cost you a fortune.  Currently we are looking at £350 for the equipment AND the two-day workshop.  (Call it $570 if you want to pay in US dollars, or €570.)

Hmm.  Cool.  So, what will I get out of the Hackshop?

Hack 3Well, one of the reasons I am scheduling the hackshop later rather than earlier, is to give us in the UK more time to decide what we want in the workshop, and to allow more time for the workshop contents to mature.  That being said, the workshop has already run several times.  They ran a one-day “Hack-a-Brain” event in New York back in February 2013, and these were the goals of the day:

  • Bring together people from a wide range of disciplines who are interested in brain-computer interfacing
  • Conceptualize, design, prototype, and build tools/applications that explore future implications of interfacing the brain
  • Document and publish all work with the intention of driving forward the DIY brain-interfacing community
  • Initiate an ongoing discussion around the future of brain interfaces, spawning future similar events

You can read more about the event on the Brain Interface Lab blog, and you can read how it went here.

That’s all very well, but I wouldn’t know an Arduino from a hole-in-the-ground!

No problem.  The chief requirements are:

  • You have a brain
  • You are curious to know what goes on inside it
  • You are interested in novel ways of using your brain
  • Would like to meet similarly-motivated people

We may well run “Geekdom 101” classes beforehand, for people who decide they want to know more, but those classes won’t be mandatory.

What kit do I get when I come on the Hackathon?

Open BCI V3You get the OpenBCI Board & Electrode Starter Kit,

  • An 8-channel, OpenBCI EEG signal capture system which is bluetooth-enabled, Arduino-compatible, and have an on-board SD card holder,
  • An electrode starter kit which includes 10 passive electrodes and conductive paste.

You will have everything you need to get up and running right out of the box!   I am working on seeing what extra goodies I might squeeze out of Joel and Conor before the day of the hackathon (may depend on numbers!)

Can I order extra kit, like the daisy-chain unit, or extra electrodes?

Yes (well, I hope so!), but we don’t have a system for that yet.

Can I come on the workshop for a reduced price if I don’t want to keep the kit?

Interesting question!  Hadn’t thought of that one before.  Probably depends on the size of the venue.  Let us know if that’s what you want, and we’ll get back to you.  Same applies if you want to bring a friend or relation and have two of you work with one piece of equipment (in fact, as I think about it, that’s probably logistically easier).

Can I get feedback from this kit on my Smartphone?

Very likely.  In fact there are folk in a local cafe here in Orlando wearing Google Glass, right now, and talking about hacking Open BCI to get a display on that!  Whether you will be able to hack an iOS app to give sophisticated analysis from 27 different sensors in two days … depends how good you are at iOS development!

What do I need to bring with me?

Hmm, “need”!  We will work out mandatory requirements closer to the day.  I will aim to keep stuff that you need to bring with you as low as possible.  What it would be cool if you had with you is probably:

  • Any Arduinos, Arduino clones, ChipKits, Raspberry Pi’s that you are accustomed to using,
  • Whatever PC, Mac or Linux machine you use to support the micro-controllers you use.
  • Any technology that may influence your brainwaves that you would like to see.  For instance, I want to see what happens when I use Pzizz (www.Pzizz.com), or my emWave2 machine.
  • Anything that you want to hack into the system.  For instance, I would like to hack a digital blood pressure monitor into the system (you can buy them for just a few pounds) and a blood-oxygen meter (SPo2) … again, just a few pounds (well, 20) from Amazon.

Will I have to wear a silly rubber bathing cap?

Headsetstory_shot2Probably.  The guys are working on developing a 3D-printed “spider claw”.

However, that isn’t part of the kit that we have ordered for the hackathon.  We (FabLabsUK) do have a number of 3D printers (and will probably have more by then), so we may be able to take orders for the spider-claw head gear, custom printed for your head size.  But that will cost extra, and no, I don’t know how much at present!

Well, you convinced me!  What do I do now?

Signup ButtonClick the button, and sign up.  It commits you to nothing, but it puts you on the “first-come-first-served” list, and makes sure that we keep you informed.

Do I need to pay now?

No, not yet.  Too early days!  We will let you know when.

Do you have any other information?

Oh!  You could regret asking that!

Here’s a video from de Sa Lab:

Check out the OpenBCI blog by clicking the picture below.

You can see the people involved in the project on this page.

I still have loads of questions!

Signup ButtonSigh!  There’s always one!  Well, I suggest that you read the Kickstarter page (there is LOADS of info there), and look at the OpenBCI website–and sign up for the hackathon, where Joel and Conor will be able to answer your every question.

Oh, and … there’s an Open Source BCI FAQ page, right here!

Bene 01

This is Mr Bene Ficial, our new Animatronic from the Animatronic Shop in Orlando.  At least, it’s most of Bene … he’s a little slack-jawed at the moment as his jaw servo is on the research bench as we develop new software for Bene.

SD card 2

As he comes he can remember a few movements, but as those movements are stored in Arduino memory, and the Arduino only has about 2k of memory, Bene can’t remember much.

But, as of today, Bene has a micro SD card added to his setup, and it currently has a 1Gb micro SD card in it.  Using the SD card requires a modification of the original code (actually, it requires a re-write, because I don’t have the original code: it’s not {yet?} open source).

Because the SD card shield uses the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) to communicate with the Arduino, and the SPI interface uses some pins that were being used to control Bene, things have had to change around a little.  And I have taken advantage of the availability of spare pin-outs on the SD card shield to solder the control and power lines for the bot to make things a little neater and more robust.

SD card 3

So, the hardware mods are complete; now I have to write the new software to use the different pins, and to write Bene’s program of movements to the SD card.

Watch this space!

Are you a teacher, maybe worrying that technology passes you by, especially in an age where there is so much attention being placed on STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths?

Many people think of technology and shrink inside: they feel it’s something dark and soul-less, and inimical to their spirit.  Which is a shame!  “Techne” was the Greek goddess of art and artifice: τεχνη is the Greek word for “art”, so, strictly speaking, “technology” is the study of art.

But it has got separated in the 20th and 21st centuries … until now!

“Computing for the Terrified & for the Merely Perplexed” is a gentle course, designed for teachers who maybe feel alienated from modern technology, and under pressure, given the intense attention placed on STEM subjects.

In this class geeks (that’s “geeks”, not “Greeks”) are banned (or, at least, confined to the back of the class), while the rest of us explore how easy it is to build a computer (we build two: one takes about 10 minutes if you’re slow — and slow is just fine — the other takes about an hour) and then to make it dance (in the case of one of them, quite literally!) … oh, and, neither involves soldering or any other hot implements, other than a coffee cup, with coffee in it.

One of the computers takes the place of a PC or a MAC (and uses totally and forever free software).  It has been designed for children (which is sometimes scary … but we don’t allow them in the class, either!) and doesn’t take long to learn.  Programming this computer is more like making sculpture with building blocks than writing out stuff that looks like esoteric maths.

Pico and Giga on the moonAnd we use that computer to play some games (keep the princess away from the wicked witch) or to tell stories (just why is there a blue hippopotamus, with green wings on the moon?).

Defensive Dress

Defensive Dress, from “Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop–from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication” by Neil Gerschenfeld

The other computer was designed for artists, by a couple of Italian artists.  In fact its programs aren’t called “programs”, they are called “sketches”.  This computer was originally conceived to allow artists to build installation art that can react to the viewer or to surroundings.  It has all sorts of sensors (I have seen it built into a dress that can tell if you’re getting too close) and all sorts of ways of reacting (the dress raised some prickles, a bit like a porcupine).

The class does its best to minimise “geek speak”, and absolutely makes sure to explain any geek speak that it does use, and we make sure that we move along at a pace that is comfortable to everyone.

While we are learning this technology, we also take the time to get to know each other, to discover who already knows what (and/or wants to know what) and we discuss ways of building the technology into the curricula that we are teaching.  We pay particular attention to the effects that gender roles may have on childrens’ perception of technology, and how we can find appropriate activities for all interests.

Later on we may move on to using 3D printers to create interesting artifacts, and to see how they can also be used to encourage creativity, especially by story-telling.

“Computing for the Terrified” was originally invented by Kitteridge Cowlishaw, who was then working at IBM.  It was in the days of the very first PCs, and set out just to show people that they didn’t bite.  James Hardiman later took the course and made it part of a study into “overcoming learning blocks in intelligent adults”: it was clear then (and still is today!) that there are all sorts of subjects that cause perfectly intelligent people to jump backwards, saying “I couldn’t possibly” … and computing and technology has to be pretty high on that list!

To be excluded from technology is to be excluded from a large part of modern life.  This course aims to help teachers to cross that bridge so that they may help others to follow.

By the way, terror isn’t a pre-req, not even perplexity.  Curiosity might help, though!

We are still putting the finishing touches to this course, and arranging dates and venues.  If you think you may be interested, please complete the form below, and we will be in touch.

While we were in Barcelona recently, visiting the IAAC Barcelona Fab Lab, we also visited (actually, we stayed there) the Valldaura Green Fab Lab and Sustainable Living Research hub in the Collserola Nature Park, north-west of Barcelona.

Valldaura Self Sufficient Labs is a demonstration site aimed at showing the possibilities of developing technologies and processes in order to sustainably produce energy and food from the land using only the natural resources available.

Scroll down this page for a video, and for sub-titles to the video (it’s in Spanish).  There’s a lot more information on their Goteo crowdfunding page.

If your Spanish isn’t up to the captions in the video, here are some translations:

Queremos aprender de la naturaleza lo que nunca debimos olvidar

We want to learn from nature that which we should never forget

Las ciudades nos gustan

We like cities

Barcelona nos gusta

We like Barcelona

Pero queremos imaginar un nuevo futuro para las ciudades

But we need to imagine a new future for our cities

Para ello hemos vuelta a la naturaleza, para aprender de ella

For this we return to nature, to learn from it

Queremos hacer laboratorios para una vida auto-suficiente

We want to have laboratories to explore self-sufficient living

Un lugar donde hacer todo lo que se necesita

para la vida del humano de la forma más eficiente

A place to make all that is neededfor human life, in the most efficient way

Aprender de la naturaleza para actuar en el mundo de forme natural

Learning from nature in order to to act naturally in the world.

Valldaura es una finca fundada por los monjes del Cister en 1150,

que en la Edad Media fue un palacio real

Valldaura, a farm founded by Cistercian monks in 1150, which was in the Middle Ages, a royal palace

Fue una finca agrícola a finales del siglo XIX cuando Barcelona se expandía

It was an agricultural farm in the late nineteenth century when Barcelona was expanding

Y ahora esta en el centro del Parque Natural de Collserola

And now it is in the centre of the Collserola Natural Park

Queremos convertida en un centro de investigación con laboratorios

donde re-aprender el conocimiento ancestral de la naturaleza

y conectarla con la nuevas tecnologías digitales

We want to convert is into a centre of investigation, with laboratorieswhere we can relearn ancestral knowledge of natureand connecting with the new digital technologies

Queremos relacionar la naturaleza, la tecnología y el ser humano

We are reconnecting nature, technology and humanity

Valldaura tendrá un Food Lab donde producir comida de forma orgánica

Valldaura will have a Food Lab, producing organic food

Un Energy Lab donde aprender a hacer energía con biomasa, con el sol y con el viento

An Energy Lab where we can learn to make energy from biomass, the sun and the wind

Y un Green Fab Lab donde hacer casi de todo con materiales naturales

And a Green Fab Lab where do almost anything with natural materials

Madera, barro y piedra

Wood, clay and stone

Donde aprender a reciclar los materiales

Where we can learn to recycle materials

Donde las personas puedan aprender unas de otras

Where people can learn from each other

Valldaura es una comunidad abierta, independiente y global donde inventar el futuro

Valldaura is an open, independent and global community where we are inventing the future

Donde impulsar la re-naturalización de las ciudades

Where we are driving the renaturalization of the cities

Tu eres parte de esta historia

You are part of this story

I recently spent a weekend talking non-stop to an architect and Fab Lab enthusiast.  He introduced me to the idea of the Wiki House:

WikiHouse is an open source construction set.

The aim is to allow anyone to design, download and “print” CNC-milled houses and components, which can be assembled with minimal formal skill or training.

Here’s Alastair Parvin:

Architect Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses? The concept is at the heart of Wikihouse, an open source construction kit that means just about anyone can build a house, anywhere.

TED Talks

Wiki House


So what if we could take the ideas of the Wiki House, the knowledge and experience of some architects trained in one of the foremost schools of architecture in the world (and who already understand and use Fab Labs) and come up with a downloadable design for producing an energy-efficient (both in terms of running costs and building costs) and easily and quickly built Fab Lab (and/or Fab Cafe)?

We would want to include some solar power: maybe not quite as extreme as this:

… but we can learn from their experience.

And the roof needn’t be so conventional.  In the past factories had saw-tooth roofs: the steep side was to the north, and allowed in light.  They needn’t look old-fashioned or ugly as this Swiss house, or this renovated factory in (of course!) Barcelona.

I have made a map of every Fab Lab, Makerspace, Hackerspace and other similar space where you can go and make things, in the UK.  If you click on the markers you will get information about that space.  If your space isn’t there, scroll right in (it may be hidden under another marker).

If it’s still not there, let me know and I’ll add it.  Click the picture of the map, below, to go to the map proper (in the days of good old Google maps, before it got all posh, I knew how to embed my own maps, but I haven’t yet sussed it in the latest version !)


I recently heard about a new “Fab” idea from Tokyo: the Fab Cafe.  Think Internet Cafe with a laser cutter and a 3D printer (and latte!)

A traditional Fab Lab frequently has the air of an engineering shop; the Fab Cafe seems to have a more artistically creative feel. I imagine that a Fab Cafe and a Fab Lab could co-exist quite happily in the same town, with artists becoming more interested in making their art interactive … or just active.

Here are just a few of the things people have made there:

You can see their gallery by clicking on any of the above pictures, or by clicking this link.  To really get blown away by all the (very creative) stuff that they have done, click the big picture below, and then go exploring!

What Did You Fab Today

Here’s what they say about themselves (it’s easier to read here!)

What is FabCafe?

“FAB” is the “craftsmanship revolution” movement spreading throughout the world. The letters “FAB” contain the meaning of both “FABrication (craftsmanship)”, unconfined by mass production and market theory, and “FABulous (pleasant, wonderful)” within them, and this network has already expanded to over 50 countries in over 250 places throughout the world (as of April, 2013).  FabCafe was created in Tokyo’s hot city, Shibuya, as a place to expand the “FAB” spirit in a fun, delicious, easy to understand, and open way. In this café, where people gather, meet, and connect, there are 3D printers and other craftsmanship devices representative of the times. There is the meeting of talent and creative collaboration that is only born from open places. We believe that the artists born from these places, artists that exceed imagination, will change the craftsmanship of the next generation. This uniqueness has begun attracting supporters from across oceans, and the second and third FabCafe’s are planned for Taiwan, in May, 2013, and Europe respectively. FabCafe is different from FabLab activities.

FabCafe, started in 2002, is a new model of activity that was born through inspiration from FabLab’s worldwide activities. Although they both share the large vision to create the future of craftsmanship, FabCafe’s organizational structure, its main bodies, business model, and profit structure are all independent. The father of the FAB movement, Professor Neil Gershenfeld of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and his ideas are both things that we continue to respect. However, FabCafe’s activities, while coordinating effectively with FabLab, aim to create a vision of the future in a way different from FabLab’s. As it maintains its entry roles, including the ideas of “everyday creator visits” and “anyone can casually participate”, FabCafe accomplishes its aims by creating a new marketplace based on products born actively within it. This marketplace develops new talent, and accelerates the flow of new craftsmanship. Fab café carries out activities as a device to create this cycle.

What is FabCafe.com?

Our site, FabCafe.com, functions as a hub for information unfolding to the world from FabCafe base areas, as well as a shared marketplace which brings together real and data products. The data and products of creators from various countries are uploaded onto this site and shared with people across the world. In addition, the creators of the world can connect here, and give birth to new collaboration products. We provide a place for a new kind of craftsmanship that cannot be born from the existing production industry, connecting people and creativity.

The first Fab Cafe is in Tokyo: will there be one near you any time soon?