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How to Make (Almost) Anything

ICTP 3D Printing Lab evolving into a "FabLab"

ICTP to open a FabLab
ICTP to open a FabLab

03/04/2014 - Trieste, Italy

ICTP has announced plans to expand its 3D Printing Lab into a full-fledged creative space for people to design and build digital products with low-cost equipment.

The experimental space, known as a "fabrication laboratory" (or FabLab), provides small-scale manufacturing equipment such as laser cutters, low-cost 3D printers and printed circuit board milling machines for making "almost anything", and is considered a key asset for developing new technological ideas and prototypes.

"ICTP's FabLab will play a significant role as a focal point to support the creative work of scientists and scholars," says Enrique Canessa, coordinator of ICTP's Science Dissemination Unit (SDU), which manages the Centre's 3D Printing Lab. He explains that FabLab is to be devoted to creativity, invention and research,  and that it will be open to all ICTP scientists and external subscribers for the benefit of the whole society. He says that collaborations with the Science Centre Immaginario Scientifico and other interested entities and sponsors for this project are underway.

FabLabs will be shown and discussed during the first Trieste Mini Maker Faire that will be held on 17 May at ICTP .

SDU has been a pioneer in using innovative, low-cost technologies to transfer scientific knowledge and education to and from the developing world.  A year ago they launched ICTP's 3D Printing Lab with low-cost technologies. This activity was further supported by the First International Workshop on Low-cost 3D Printing for Science, Education and Sustainable Development, together with the publishing of a popular open book on the topic that has been then translated into multiple languages.

FabLabs are becoming of special relevance to scientists in developing countries because they can offer powerful new ways to carry out research and facilitate the creation of new ideas at affordable costs.

"We foresee that ICTP's FabLab will be exported to the developing world, specially across the ICTP's research networks, and extended to empower scholars, scientists, and individuals there," says Canessa, adding, "Such FabLabs will help them in designing, discussing and creating innovative low-cost devices, such as inter-linked tiny sensors to gather data from multiple places with the use of Arduino microcontrollers. The field of interaction between man and machine is also of special research interest within FabLabs."

For more details, please contact SDU.