Wouldn’t you love the chance to go to an easily accessible public technology laboratory with 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters, PC workstations, and staff eager to introduce all of the latest technology to you and help you realize some of your creations? This is exactly the opportunity that people from Haifa, Israel (and the surrounding region) now have thanks to a new “Fab Lab” (Fabrication Laboratory) modeled after a very popular one in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
The Wanger Family of Chicago, Illinois established Chicago’s Fab Lab, which was the largest in the world, and has now donated funds to open an even larger and better equipped Fab Lab in Haifa, Israel that will provide valuable educational and industrial uses. The northern city of Haifa is an excellent location selection since it is already the home to the Technion Institute and an Intel research facility. The new Fab Lab, now the largest in the world, is located at the city’s MadaTech National Museum of Science, Technology & Space.
The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT and the idea has been around for over a decade. Today, there are approximately 125 Fab Labs around the world that exist with the purpose of allowing the public to participate in high-technology programs and projects that would normally be off-limits to average citizens. The MadaTech Fab Lab will coordinate with schools throughout the region to allow students to use the facility while exposing them to the design and engineering concepts that will prove useful to them in their future careers. Industry has also shown a strong interest in the Fab Lab, and although it is in its early programming phase, representatives from high-tech firms have already visited the MadaTech Fab Lab.
Some of the activities offered at MadaTech Fab Lab include staff-led workshops for people of all skill levels from beginners to more advanced makers interested in learning new skills; a weekly open lab where staff can assist people working on individual projects; and a weekly digital fabrication workshop where participants can experience the 3D printing process first-hand by designing and printing their own personal ring.
What makes Haifa’s MadaTech Fab Lab so notable is its size and equipment: it has the world’s largest 3D printer room with 27 brand new 3D printers, and it is equipped with brightly colored 3D printed desks that were mostly “downloaded from the Internet.” The Lab has 25 cube-shaped 35 cm Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers and 2 high-definition Polyjet printers. The lab has 3 sound-isolated zones, a 3D room, CAD room, and a multipurpose hall. The facility’s total seating capacity is 80, and it features a “Digital Fabrication in Daily Life” exhibit, it is furnished with custom milled CNC tables, and the floor has 16 square meters of 3D floor area that is laser-cut “with 73 unique multi-level tiles.” It is also equipped with other state-of-the-art equipment, such as: 1 laser cutter; 2 vinyl cutters; 1 Shopbot; 1 tabletop CNC mill; 34 PC workstations; 6 3D Systems Sense scanners; and a dedicated workroom with a drill press, a band saw, and other items.
Not too shabby, huh? It will be exciting to see what comes out of the world’s largest Fab Lab, as more people are exposed to the technology and schools integrate 3D printing into their curricula. You can follow the excitement on the MadaTech Fab Lab Facebook page to view posts and photos of the state of the art facility along with its programs and projects.
What do you think about this new technology center? Is there a Fab Lab near you? Tell us your thoughts on this new facility over in the MadaTech Fab Lab forum thread at 3DPB.com.