Fab 7 Begins

The Seventh International Digital Fabrication Conference has opened. The Inaugural evening consisted of an opening mixer at Lima’s City Hall. Fab Lab Lima was introduced and the conference attendees were addressed by the President of Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, the Dean of Architecture, and the Mayor of Lima. The evening followed with an orchestra performance and multiple interpretations of traditional Peruvian dancing. The event at City Hall was closed with a trip to a large park filled with 13 interactive water fountains, which included an audiovisual projection based on images related to Peru’s culture.

Day 1 of Fab7 consisted of a State of the Network, presented by Neil Gershenfeld. This lecture provided the history of Fab Labs as well as declaring the timeline of the events in which led the Fab Lab network to grow to what it has become today. Every morning there is time for all Fab Labs to provide a brief presentation and show their unique contributions.

I attended the workshop held by Neil Gershenfeld, entitled Processes: CAD/CAM Workflow. During this session, we were given a tutorial of the open source CAM Software he is writing. This Software is still in development, but it allows for any format file to be transferred and coded for all of the Fab Lab equipment. The software as well as many other resources is available at the The Center for Bits and Atom’s Website.

The end of the evening was slightly less formal as it ended with Fab Foo. This time is dedicated to any topics that haven’t been addressed or those that have generated interest for further conversation. I attended the Fab Foo hosted by Zach Kaplan of Inventables. We discussed how material usage in projects could be shared and the site could be used to create a community in which people can share their frustrations as well as final products using the products the site offers.

There was also time to pay a visit to the nearly complete Fab Lab Lima. The lab is equipped with a ShopBot CNC, an Epilog Laser, HP Plotters, and an Electronics work area.

Day 2 of Fab7 Opened with more introductions to labs around the world.

The first workshop I attended was Processes: Subtractive Fabrication, held by Sallye Coyle of ShopBot Tools. She spoke about the specifications of using a ShoBbot CNC router and explained the capabilities of the machine. Proper tool usage, feeds and speeds recommendations per material, hold down techniques, and shortcuts in the ShopBot user interface were discussed. There was also an explanation of Vectric’s PartWorks program, which is a highly recommended CAM software design to output to CNC machines.

The Second workshop was Projects: Making Machines. This was held by Jonathon Ward, Nadya Peek, and Neil Gershenfeld. The main topic was discussing Nadya and Jonathon’s creation, the MTM Snap Lock. This machine is a snap together CNC milling machine. While it still has some tweaks to be made, the machine is almost ready to be commercialized and introduced to all Fab Labs. This closely follows MIT’s mission for Fab Labs to be able to recreate the machines we use in order to expand capabilities, eventually rendering machine manufacturers obsolete. This particular machine is controlled by an Arduino board and allows for the capacity of a 4” x 6” cutting space. Other machines in development by The Center for Bits and Atoms can be found on their site, Machines that Make.

Fab7 is well underway and there is a great excitement amongst the attendees as well as much talk of what is to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *