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FABLAB UON, THE BEST INNOVATION CENTRE

FABLAB
FABLAB

Most Kenyans probably have not heard about FabLab UoN and the activities that go on there. It is a place where electrical and mechanical engineering enthusiasts are abundant. Though even most of the undergraduate students in Kenya taking these courses have no idea of the services it offers. I asked one a random engineering student this week whether they new what goes on in the lab. They told me that they have free WIFI. That was correct but it dint hit the student that this is just one of their hands on projects.

The success of the projects in the lab have led to them winning the Best Innovation center award from Transform Kenya. The award was humbly recieved by Dr. Kamau Gachigi(Director) on 20/7/2014. Their greatest asset is the fabrication resources that they have in their laboratory. From 3D printers to laser gagdets. Here is the Fabrication Laboratory breakdown that has its roots from MIT(Massachusetts institute of technology)

What is the Fab Lab?

The Fab Lab is basically a collection of tools and equipment that leverage the power of Digital Fabrication Techniques in the hands of the average innovative mind.

Fab labs share core capabilities so that projects can be shared across them. This currently includes:

-A computer-controlled laser-cutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts

-A larger (4′x8′) numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts

A signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas

-A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards

Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors

These work with components and materials optimized for use in the field, and are controlled with custom software for integrated design, manufacturing, and project management. This inventory is continuously evolving, towards the goal of a fab lab being able to make a fab lab.

Fab labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. They began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). CBA assembled millions of dollars in machines for research in digital fabrication, ultimately aiming at developing programmable molecular assemblers that will be able to make almost anything. Fab labs fall between these extremes, comprising roughly fifty thousand dollars in equipment and materials that can be used today to do what will be possible with tomorrow’s personal fabricators.

Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway, and now Kenya. Activities in fab labs range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.

source: courtesy http://uonfablab.wordpress.com

By Neville Mugambi.

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