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Manchester, UK – MIT’s FabLab scheme is adding the UK to its growing network.
Professor Neil Gershenfeld, director of The Center for Bits and Atoms, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says that FabLabs are fully-fitted digital fabrication workshops that give everyone in the community – from small children through to inventors and businesses – the chance to turn their ideas into reality.
There are 35 FabLabs worldwide – in locations ranging from inner city Boston to rural India and from the northern extremity of Norway to African villages. Each is connected by a global communications network, enabling the sharing of ideas, designs and knowledge.
Shepherds in Norway have used their FabLab to enable mobile phones to track sheep, while in Afghanistan, people are customising artificial limbs, while in South Africa a government and business backed project is creating simple internet connected computers that hook up to televisions and cost just ten dollars apiece.
The Manchester FabLab is being set up by the Manufacturing Institute in partnership with the City Council. Together, they are planning to open a digital fabrication centre, and are working in conjunction with urban regeneration company, New East Manchester Ltd to look at potential sites in east Manchester.
Eddie Smith, Chief Executive of New East Manchester, said: “The prospect of Manchester getting a FabLab is very exciting and would be yet another first for the City. Although this project is still in the early stages, it has the potential to form a key part of our regeneration programme for east Manchester and we would welcome the opportunity to bring it to the area. The FabLab will be a catalyst for positive change, bringing together young and old, and businesses and individuals – in the shared aim of translating their ideas and concepts into something real.”
Although starting as an outreach project by MIT in inner-city Boston, businesses can opt to protect their product development ideas by paying to use the service.