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Iceland: turning ideas to reality with Fab-Lab

In October 2017, the Fab-Lab workshop in Akranes was allocated new and larger housing as well as new equipment, in line with an agreement with the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. There are seven digital workshops in Iceland called Fab-Lab or fabrication laboratory.

The idea originates from Neil Gershenfeld, a professor at MIT, Massachusetts, who believes that teaching students how to use technology to create things will empower them to become more independent and creative in the future. The aim of Fab-Lab is to encourage individuals and entrepreneurs to follow-up on their ideas. It offers workshops with access to high tech equipment and to specialists who can help them develop their concepts and produce prototypes.  The aim is also to make technology and vocational education more interesting and visible for young people.

The Fab-Labs are often located in local upper secondary schools but they are run independently. Fab-Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention but also a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor and to invent. Anyone can apply to attend the workshops in laboratories, from entrepreneurs, students and companies to ordinary people who just want work on their ideas.

There are 2D or 3D drawing programmes for drawing up ideas and sending to 3D printer or 3D milling machines or laser cutters. People can also send their drawings to CNC cutting-, drilling- or carving machines. Participants may also work on digital fabrication of wood, plastic, aluminium or textile. Most Fab-Labs offer 3D scanning for participants that already have a prototype and want to make a 3D drawing from it.

Today, a network of over 500 Fab-Lab workshops around the world is connected, including seven in Iceland. Through this extended network, people and companies are inter-connected, able to share best-practices and to cooperate on solving common problems.