What is a FabLab ?
A fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop offering open access to (personal) digital fabrication
So a FabLab is a digital workshop which can be used by the public to create transform creative ideas into tangible prototypes.
A FabLab comprises digitally controlled machines like a lasercutter, CNC-router, a 3D printer, a vinyl cutter and electronics with the aim to make “almost anything”.
FabLabs form an worldwide community that shares knowledge and techniques. Which fosters innovation.
A Makerspace may call itself a FabLab is it adheres to the Fab Charter (link) . FabLab is a community, not a franchise.
The origin is in the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), headed by Prof. Dr. Neil Gershenfeld of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who started a study into the computational capacities that are inherent to physical systems.
For that reason it has set up a first laboratory for digital fabrication, also known as “Fab Lab” (Fabrication Laboratory).
As an interdisciplinary educational outreach programme, the CBA has supported the setting up abroad of a small number of similar Fab Labs, to be able to do further research into the effects and possibilities of making accessible the computational capabilities of the physical layer. The Fab Lab concept quickly became popular among users outside the research domain, and an international network of similar Fab Labs came into being that were all active in the areas of research, education and application of personal digital fabrication.
These Fab Labs cooperate with local communities, universities and (international) governments.
There are over 600 FabLabs worldwide.