Fab Lab Implementation and Research
Somehow human history seems to have an invisible “cycle” whereby roughly once every 15 years, “technology” and “society” meet face to face. This instigates a “conversion” where the technology that was created by experts is released into the general public, and is then democratized. Technology then spreads throughout society, and the general public make it their own, giving it a completely new meaning. The very first technology wave that I experienced was in 1980 with the “Personal Computer.” The second wave was in 1995 with the “Internet.” And then in 2010, we saw the arrival of the “Personal Fabrication” (personalized industries and personal manufacturing).
The Hiroya Tanaka Laboratory is a research center for advanced development, working for the development of the “Personal Fabrication” culture in Japan, and is working on new developments in areas such as:
・Next generation modeling machine tools (design machines)
・Design support environments (design tools)
・New natural materials (design materials)
and having an interest in:
・Web based open source design systems
・Techniques and description methods for sharing, passing on, deriving, diverging, progressing, and advancing manufacturing knowledge (design scripts)
as well as being proactively involved in the following areas:
・Transfer, transport, and installation of finished products to developing countries (worldwide logistics)
・Organization and participation in overseas manufacturing workshops
Based on these types of activities, our laboratory works in close collaboration with “Fab Lab Kamakura,” a community laboratory that is open to the public and focuses on experimental demonstration/social application of research results.
The students who attend our laboratory vary from design students interested in architecture, furniture, clothing, etc.; engineering students interested in machines and robots; science student interested in artificial life and graphics sciences; art students interested in arts and creative support systems; to social students with a sense of social entrepreneurship. Similarly, we want our students to build their knowledge across 3 axes, which would form the basis for their essential literacy (basic education): the ability to do 3-dimensional designs including solid bodies and space, information processing ability including programming/scripting, as well as workshop/facilitation skills to allow them to work with the general public to make new creations.
Our research sessions involve the creation of many “things” which are carefully discussed by following a format of “Show and Tell.” These discussions generate new points of view that serve as feedback for the new creations. Our objective is to develop the “FAB” culture by mastering 3 elements, “things”, “facts”, and “words,” and letting them come together in such a way that they can touch each other while maintaining a good balance.
Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University