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FabLabAbq April 24, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in cats, ideas, inventions, sci-fi, sense of wonder, web & computers.
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When I did the science fair judging last Wednesday, Deb gave me a flyer with info about an open house today for the FabLabAbq. I’ve wanted to see one of these gizmos in action for like, oh, ever. It’s a wonderful stfnal gadget and promises to put manufacturing back in the cottage where it belongs.

I got to the store front about 1:30 and, well, I was very disappointed. The last thing that was obvious and visible was me putting my name on their mailing list. Lots of doodads on shelves that purportedly had been made using the equipment were for sale, but $38 seems a bit steep for a napkin ring. Or whatever it was. Not high tech but made out of plastic (ie, not a stainless steel vacuum seal or some wondrous O-ring for that ftl drive you’re making in your basement). I read the sheets scotch taped to the walls. I looked at mostly turned off computers. One glovebox-esque device looked promising. It was a 3D printer and some small houses that had been made inside were on display (or I assume they had been made by the 3D printer since the inside of the box and the material looked to be the same color.) But it wasn’t working.

I couldn’t begin to figure out what other machinery was for. There were supposed to be laser and plasma jet fabbers but I don’t know where they were. I was loath to wander around in the deserted back rooms.

The one tech available for explanation was mostly pissed off because he was trying to repair a gadget that appeared to lay down glue or something gooey and brown in a planar fashion. What did it do? Dunno. And it didn’t work. Nowhere was there a demo running to actually give a feel for what the expensive fabbers did. Check out the website. There’s a better video there than I saw in person.

Very expensive for hobbyists. $100/mo for individuals and $4200 for corps (that might have been for a year). Plus material. This seemed to be geared toward low-income women (from the write-up) though $100/mo seems pricey to crank out plastic widgets. Maybe not if you can sell 3 napkin rings a month?

They give classes, too, but rather expensive ones. No idea if you actually get to see one of the machines in action. And there is a van that goes around to the schools to give demos. That would be incredibly cool but no schedule was posted or info on how you get the van out to your school. If they could only fab an extra van and…

Afterward I had to go to Target to pick up litterbox liners. I asked about the Kindle. First clerk looked blank and summoned over a younger one who told me those were sold only by Amazon and stop wasting his time. OK. But if you already have a Kindle and want to check out a really cool book, Unsafe on Any Screen is now available.

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