"The fab lab program was initiated to broadly explore how the content of information relates to its physical representation and how an under-served community can be powered by technology at the grassroots level. The program began as a collaboration between the Grassroots Invention Group and the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at the Media Lab in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a grant from the National Science Foundation (Washington, D.C.) in 2001. While the Grassroots Invention Group is no longer in the Media Lab, The Center for Bits and Atoms consortium is still actively involved in continuing research in areas related to description and fabrication but does not operate or maintain any of the labs worldwide (with the exception of the mobile fab lab)" according to Wikipedia.
The fast and substantial increase of the worldwide Fab Lab community leads to the need of a higher degree of self-organization. At the Fab6 Conference held in August 2010, the Fab Lab community decided to establish an International Fab Lab Association. The CBA supports this initiative of the Fab Lab community wholeheartedly.
There is a growing network of educational digital fabrication labs around the world.
In the following video entitled "Future of digital fabrication" (CNN/On GPS); Fareed Zakaria discusses the future of 3D printing and digital fabrication with MIT's Neil Gershenfeld.
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.
Need more concrete guidance? Maybe a real example? Follow Champlain College Saint Lambert 3D Printing Fab Lab Project with us!