From families to hobbyists, small businesses to entrepreneurs, Fringe-goers would be hard-pressed to find anything quite like the possibility of bringing the depths of one’s imagination into 3-dimensional reality.
Dubbed “the new Lego” for its manufacturing possibilities, Australia’s first fabrication laboratory (fab lab) has inspired the minds of many since its opening, and will continue during the Fringe with a series of free show and tell sessions at its TAFE SA Adelaide College of the Arts (AC Arts) base.
The lab has gathered a community of makers since its opening in November including industrial design student Jake Henderson, who volunteers his time helping new users get acquainted with the revolutionary design and manufacturing technology.
He sees huge potential for 3D printers, computer-controlled devices that build 3-dimensional objects through layers of molten plastic, as users can manufacture items with less time, money and skill than previously required.
“The ability for an amateur to manufacture a part or product quickly, once off, cheaply, easily and in the Western world is unprecedented,” he said.
“The potential economic implications of this are huge because it fundamentally undermines why things are made in large volumes and why so many things are made in China.”
While it’s mostly unknown how big the impact of the technology will be, Mr Henderson said small businesses and entrepreneurs could benefit by using it to prototype new products and ideas.
“We have had some interest from a business within Adelaide who would like to make a batch of customised tokens for board games and as an internal store credit,” he said.
“New businesses can potentially start up by things that are invented in the Fab Lab.”
Christie Anthoney, Creative Director of the Adelaide College of the Arts said “we are delighted to host Fab Lab within the AC Arts building. It’s the perfect fit for the creative community”.
Hosting an array of 3D printers, a laser cutter, a milling machine, and a vinyl cutter, the lab is a boon for designers, artists, researchers and inventors and offers students of science, technology, engineering and maths to learn and experiment with designs.
Small businesses can even collaborate with the community, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) members have done, working with locals in Afghanistan to build a Wi-Fi network from trash with 3D printing.
With a world-wide community spurred on by the sharing of inventions and ideas, new ways of using the technology such as this continue to make daily headlines around the globe.
According to Mr Henderson, part of the technology’s success is that unlike traditional manufacturing processes, the technology in the fab lab doesn’t require years of skill-building to achieve, but is easy enough for children to master.
“3D printers are the new Lego, you can create anything! You can even create Lego,” he said.
Adelaide’s Fab Lab is part of a global network of fab labs provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is managed by ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology) and funded by the South Australian Government (DSD). Find out more at fablabadelaide.org.au.
Fab Lab Adelaide Show and Tell is showing from 14 February to 15 March at TAFE SA Adelaide College of the Arts.