If you have an idea and want to experiment with different materials and procedures to make your invention prototype, but haven’t got the money or equipment Fab Labs (fabrication laboratories) may be able to help.

There are many Fab Labs around the world including the several in the USA, UK (Manchester), France, Spain, Germany and many more, a list can be found here

Video of Fab Lab Manchester Video below

Fab Labs are places where there is a range of equipment available to both the general public and companies to experiment with. Equipment may vary at the different centres but the Manchester Centre in the UK says it offers:

  • A computer-controlled lasercutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
  • A larger (4’x8′) numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts
  • A vinylcutter, to produce signs, printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
  • A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional moulds and surface-mounted circuit boards
  • Electronics assembly
  • Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors
  • Sewing and embroidery equipment

The Fab Labs have managers and technicians who can show you the correct way to use all of the of the equipment.

Fab Lab has Open Labs where individuals can just go along and learn about the equipment and try it out for free, you are just asked to document what you do to share with others. If you want to actually book a day in the centre where you are guaranteed to get the time you want, and keep confidentiality you can do so on a paid basis.

If Manchester was closer to me, it would be something I would be interested in trying out

Find out more about Fab Labs Manchester here http://www.fablabmanchester.org/

Links to Other Fab Labs around the world can be found via Wikipedia

Video of Fab Lab at Lorain County Community College in Ohio

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