With Climate change people are pushed to innovate, to find new solutions in order to build a viable future. Innovation requires a fair amount of creativity. Without it, it is impossible to develop something new. And transgressing established rules, questioning it or reversing it are part of the creative process. Innovation is a concept applicable in all fields, it comes from a dream, an idea, a need or a problem. Equally, if these factors are reasons for innovation, then all humans are able to innovate because we all have ideas, dreams and solutions in mind.
However we might not necessarily have the competences, tools or technology required to realise it. It was the from this statement professor Neil Gershenfeld from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to give access to his laboratory at any time of the day or the night to his students . He wanted to free up their creativity and encourage them to innovate. By doing this, the students could use all the tools, machinery, software and technology required to realize prototypes they had in mind. This is how the first Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratories) was born.
Neil Gershenfeld not only opened his laboratory to his students, but through the Fab Lab charter he also encouraged them to share their knowledge and competences, in an educative perspective and also in the spirit of accelerating the innovation process. Indeed, the Fab Labs are open to anyone. And above all, there is no secret! All the processes, programs and plans are available in open source, accessible to everyone on the web network. That way, everyone is free to enhance the innovations of others, or to replicate it. There is no patents to protect it, only licenses which regulate the level of sharing and stipulate if it can be modified and redistributed, or only redistributed; and if the innovation can be commercialized or not.
The concept of Fab Lab has a great success and in 15 years has grown way beyond Universities environment. Fab Labs have been developed in networks in the entire world, not less than 400 have been listed in 2014. The Fab Labs can be private, or financed by crowd founding or public institutions. It already allowed many innovations, with quality comparable to the industry: « It exists 2 models of 3D printers in the world, with similar prices and performance levels » explains Nicolas Sadeghi, a student from EFREI passionate by this topic and very involved in Fab Labs in France.
Indeed, the Fab Lab network is an excellent accelerators of innovation, because different people can work together on the same project. Equally, it permits the development of long lasting, adjustable and repairable products. Allowing the market to slowly to move away from the logic of planned obsolescence of products. Finally, the Fab Labs are great tools to empower people to create, develop and realize their ideas.
To go further:
>Some Fab Labs closed to mine?