The digital economy is now expanding rapidly, and is starting to overturn the past achievements of the Industrial Revolution. Initially engaging in the world of services, it is now turning to the manufacture of objects. Just as microcomputing evolved from large scale computing to more personal use, and as the Internet left behind the world of armies and universities to become universal, industrial production is gradually becoming directly controlled by individuals. This appropriation is being done either on a personal level, or, more significantly, within local or planetary communities: Fab Labs. These digital fabrication laboratories offer workshops to members of the public where all sorts of tools are available (including 3D printers, laser cutters and sanders) for the design and creation of personalized objects. The bringing together of various users (amateurs, designers, artists, “dabblers”, etc.) and possibilities for collaboration lies at the heart of these open-access productive spaces. This book covers a range of advances in this new personal fabrication and various issues that it has raised, especially in terms of the alternatives to salaried work, intellectual property, ecological openings and the hitherto unseen structuring of societies.
Preface vii Introduction xi Chapter 1. Fab Labs: Observations on a Topical Phenomenon 1 1.1. Origins and an attempt at a definition 1 1.1.1. The origins: a concept from MIT 1 1.1.2. Definition of a Fab Lab 4 1.2. Current state of distribution 12 1.2.1. Deployment in industrialized countries 13 1.2.2. Deployment in developing countries 18 1.3. Constitution and operation of a Fab Lab 19 1.3.1. Varied user profiles 20 1.3.2. The main equipment in a Fab Lab 23 1.3.3. From the creative idea to prototyping: a collaborative process 26 1.4. Factors of success and sustainability of a Fab Lab 30 1.4.1. Members’ motivation 32 1.4.2. The relationship to innovation 33 1.4.3. Constitution of self-learning communities 41 1.5. A moving community: the makers 49 Chapter 2. The Emergence of the New Production System of Personal Fabrication 51 2.1. A new time for digital revolution 52 2.1.1. From the 19th Century revolution of the invention 54 2.1.2. to the 21st Century inventor-entrepreneur 56 2.1.3. The revolution in personal production 58 2.2. The rise of a new economic model 64 2.2.1. Links with the previous model, the centralized industrial economy 66 2.2.2. Breaking with the old model of centralized industrial economy 72 2.3. Innovation by the user 79 2.3.1. The distinctive identity of the user 80 2.3.2. The principled substrate of the new innovation model 85 2.4. The challenged economic system 92 2.4.1. Are owners still needed? 92 2.4.2. How can polluting emissions be reduced effectively? 93 2.4.3. Employment is dead, long live work! 95 2.4.4. From the vertical public to horizontal community 97 2.5. Conclusion: everything needs to be reinvented 101 2.5.1. The issue of ownership 101 2.5.2. The issue of subordination 103 2.5.3. The issue of measurement 103 Conclusion 107 Bibliography 109 Index 121
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