A FabLabulous idea

Wouldn’t it be great to make household items just by downloading instructions from the internet and turning on a 3D printer?

The digital fabrication revolution started at MIT in the US a few years ago and last spring it came to Japan. I was really lucky to be one of the first people to visit FabLab Kamakura. I even got a FabLab made holder for my reporter’s notebook!

As a photo job, the main challenge was the somewhat small and static location. ’Fabmaster’ Hiroya Tanaka set up in an old sake storehouse. Very beautiful, but very dark and pokey.

The FabLab concept has all sorts of benefits. It’s eco-friendly because it removes the need for distribution. Its creative because you can make anything if you have the right design and the right machine. And it’s fun.

Tanaka-san and others are giving FabLab a bit of a Japanese twist. He told me they are cooperating linking up with some of the many traditional artisans based in Kamakura.

The FabLab concept reminds me a bit of the mingei movement actually. (The Mingei museum in Komaba is one of my favourite spots in Tokyo).

Quite a few people believe that digital fabrication will be a transformative technology – on a par with the invention of electricity or the internet. I wonder . . .










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