Published: 27th April 2017
DIY Diary: Have an idea? Here's how you can make it come to life this summer at Fablab Kerala
Forget college projects in labs. If you have an idea and you don't know anyone who can build it, just pack your bags and head to Fablab Kerala — at those prices, even DIY work is a steal
The handle of your mother's favorite frying pan has come off and a replacement is hard to find in the market. What would you do? Your niece lost a few pieces in her Lego kit. Is there a way to get hold of the missing pieces alone? You have a great design for a multipurpose chair for your room, but it is so unconventional that no carpenter would even take a look at it. Is there a way to get it made?
Well, yes. Head to FABLAB.
If you have a good workable idea of the product you need, Fablab is where you see it come to life.
Where ideas are fabulously real-time
Fablab Kerala is a collaboration between Government of Kerala's Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that offers the public access to high-performance machines and tools for digital fabrication. Two Fablabs function in Kerala — at Kerala Technology Innovation Zone (KTIZ) in Kochi and Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. These labs have been set up with the idea of promoting 'innovation and invention' in local entrepreneurship and as a platform to encourage new ways of learning.
Equipped with machines including laser cutters, CNC mills, 3D printers and scanners, mini NC mills, vinyl plotters and sand blasters apart from tools, electronic components and computers, Fablab is a one-stop-shop for all the needs of digital fabrication
Equipped with machines including laser cutters, CNC mills, 3D printers and scanners, mini NC mills, vinyl plotters and sand blasters apart from tools, electronic components and computers, it is a one-stop-shop for all the needs of digital fabrication.
Any person with a design for an object can use the facilities at the lab to build it. In case, all you have is a basic idea, the technical assistants at these labs are only too willing to help. In these days of DIY (do it yourself) products, the facilities at the Fablabs are a boon to those who are technically-inclined. In order to make use of the facilities at the labs, a person can go to their website, select a time slot when the machines are free and get their design made at the specified time. Adding to the attraction is the fact that charges for using the machines start at a rock-bottom Rs 35.
The fablabs also offer a six-month full-time course in digital fabrication that is revealingly named 'How to Make Almost anything'. The course commences every January.
Digital Fabrication: The Way Forward
A major rationale behind setting up of the fablabs, say the people behind it, was to encourage more startups to come up in the hardware sector. A visionary decision, considering most of the startups incubated at the two technological hubs were in the software segment. However, with the kinds of potential that digital fabrication holds for the future, they don't want to limit the services to startups alone.
"The basic idea behind the Fablabs is to inculcate a maker culture. That is going to be the way forward. Like the smartphone boom in mid 2000s to the dot com boom a decade before it, digital fabrication is going to be the next frontier in technical advancement. The days of mass produced consumer durables are over. People now want personalized furniture and household accessories," says Daniel Jeevan, technical-in-charge of Fablab Kochi.