A fab lab is an open collaborative space where you can find any kind a fabrication tool, from the milling machine to the 3d printer, all sorts of wood processing tools, and even industrial machinery, free-to-use. Barcelona has one big fab lab that I happened to visit.
The first thing that strikes you when entering the lab is its openness. Anyone is welcome to come and use the tools. In fact, you encounter all kinds of people there: from the entrepreneur willing to quickly make a prototype to the artist working on a new concept, and including many hackers trying new ideas. And all these people help each other, eventually sharing ideas and comments. The beauty of it is that all these different people wouldn’t necessarily meet without this space, and this diversity gives such a strong picture of creativity.
Walking in the different rooms, you’ll find the result of this creativity: artistic sculptures, proofs of some concept, electronic devices, architectural models… The large green panel you see (I know, sorry for the bad quality pictures…) on the wall of the first picture is a miniature model of the city of Barcelona.
The fab lab is getting its own resources by selling models and prototypes to companies. It is a very good example of how collaboration can become a sustainable model and offer a credible alternative to corporations as we know them today.