Froth always follows function at the Fab Lab cafe!

Just for a change, and especially as it’s Easter weekend, it’s good to finally come across something to rave about!

Ever since I first came across MiT’s Fab Lab concept, I’ve always seen it as a great model for the future development of Design and Technology in schools, and one that moves it away from an out-dated 1960s approach to mass-manufacture, towards the needs of a 21st Century post-industrial society.

Essentially a Fab Lab (short for Fabrication Laboratory) is a small workshop where people from the local community can go and design and make small batches of the things they and their local community need, using 2D and 3D CAD/laser printing systems. And where better to site such a workshop than a local secondary school where it can be used during weekdays by students and in the evenings and at weekend by the public (in many case working with, and probably guided by, the students).

But this new ‘Fab Cafe’ in Japan takes things a step further, and moves the idea out of a workshop into a cafe environment – traditionally a place where people congregate to talk, write, read, draw and entertain one another.  There are more photos of the cafe here.

So let’s consider replacing a traditional D&T workshop in every secondary school in the country with something similar. Students, staff and members of the local community can come in, relax, have a coffee together, collaboratively and globally discuss local needs, and develop their design ideas on their iPads and send them to the 3D laser printer in the corner. It would also be a great environment for learning coding and other IT skills.

However, it seems that 3D printers may soon be a thing of the past.

And maybe one day someone will even be able to explain to me how this actually works?

Don’t say:  I’ll have have a double de-caff skinny latte with an extra shot of laser-resin and a slice of Raspberry Pi. Oh, and an icy tea for my friend.

Do sayTea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Top image credit: masakiishitani

4 comments on “Froth always follows function at the Fab Lab cafe!

  1. Hmm. Yes… Having just read and watched the ‘Self-assembling sand’ idea, I think I get it.

    Currently 3D printers are like a 2D method that linearly build layers into a 3D representation. The sand idea starts off from being a true 3D process from the outset. It’s early days and as they point out, finding the simplest way of describing and defining the object is perhaps the best way to go, the rest of the plan should follow in good time.

    Given that everything is made from just a bunch of atoms arranged in certain orders, then why should it not be perfectly possible to recreate anything so long as we can ‘print’ (assemble the atoms) that small.

    Gold. 24ct 1kg. Hot.

  2. I think there is potential here for D&T – at NTU we’ve just created a fab lab/ hack space/ maker & designer space in one of the workshops. Kerry Truman (@kerry_truman) has pulled it together (he’s tweeted some pictures recently).
    This idea makes the space more fluid and flexible – what D&T should be but isn’t because of single purpose rooms, limited to one material.

  3. @ Alison Thanks for your comment!

    The space used for D&T undoubtedly has a big influence on how children react. If it’s full of woodwork benches they, quite reasonably, they expect to be making things in wood! In the e-scape sessions the children were given ‘soft modelling’ tools and materials in non-workshop spaces, and it clearly encouraged them to develop their ideas further before they committed themselves to more resistant materials.

    The other thing I particularly like about the fab lab cafe is that it also promotes a collaborative and social space. Ideally this could also draw in members of the local community to share ideas, knowledge and contacts.

    I have a dream…!

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