Created in the late 1990s at the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), under the leadership of Professor Neil Gershenfeld, the FabLab are DIY (Do It Yourself) workshops geared towards the engineering and creation of material objects via digital methods.
These places of exchange and co-creation allow the research, design, exploration, experimentation and realization of prototypes and finished objects. They are a more human, social and local component that are participating in this 4th industrial revolution, the merging of digital and material production.
Within these spaces, amateurs and professionals alike are found around electronics, robotics and 3D printing, but also around more traditional techniques such as metallurgy and carpentry. They train each other to use machines, among other numerical production methods, and therefore re-appropriate technology, know-how and the means of production.
The members share their resources and knowledge in a horizontal and dynamic way, encouraging the revelation of their individual creative potential.
Close to the Hacker culture, the FabLabs propose to use open source information, but beyond that, new values are put forward. Indeed, by transforming the reliance on consumption as a manufacturer instead of buying, by learning what is useful to us, by giving ourselves the right to innovate, to modify, and to recycle, we are witnessing the emergence of a new Society of consumer-actors.
In Brussels, the first FabLabs appeared at the end of 2011, today they form a dynamic and diverse community.