Recently I was travelling through Masterton for work and was lucky enough to be able to call into Fablab Masterton to have a look around with John Hart, one of the founders. This Fablab is working with local schools and community groups to increase people’s experience with making and fabrication, as well as to grow people’s capacity to teach others.
They have a CNC router which has enabled them to build their own furniture. John showed me the tiny little prototype of a table they cut on the laser cutter to test the design before hitting ‘go’ on the big CNC. Seeing the little table in front of the big table shows the power of different fabrication tools at different times in the design process.
A lot of the design work that happens at Fablab Masterton is 2D and 3D. People learn how to use software like Inkscape and 3D modelling software, then make their designs using either the laser cutter (2D) or 3D printer (3D).
Some of the tables have a centrepiece that is removable to allow different tools to be dropped in if activities change. It’s a clever design feature. This example was on an ‘unmaking table’ which encourages people to pull things apart in order to better understand how they work.
John and Kirsten have also set up a way for schools to share files with them so that after initial sessions learning about design and prototyping at the Fablab, they can work on their designs back at school, send the file to the Fablab and have them print it on one of their 3D printers.