How to make (almost) Anything?

How to make (almost) Anything?

I was reading Business Week, the issue which has something about blogs will change your business on the covering warning business people to catch up or .. catch you later.
Anyways, the reason for this post is not about blogs per say other than the fact its on a blog but on a book that was reviewed in the magazine.

This book has one word title, Fab with a rather long subtitle The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication

What the book talks about is the event of what seems to be a glorious technology called Personal fabrication. According to the businessweek article, Desktop Factories .

Personal fabrication systems are small, inexpensive clusters of tools and software that function as complete job shops. Typically, they have easy-to-use controls that enable almost anyone, including people in remote African villages, to manufacture an amazing variety of things. A typical system includes a milling machine for making precision parts, a cutter for producing simple printed circuit boards, and software for programming cheap chips called microcontrollers. Today, one of these "fab labs" costs about $20,000. But Gershenfeld predicts that fab lab prices will follow the path of PCs. With volume production, these advanced do-it-yourself systems could plunge to $10,000 and then perhaps to $1,000.
The story seems to be working out like -
First there was 100$ laptop then there was the 1000$ fabrication lab, all if the guys at MIT have their way.

You know guy, I love excercising six degrees of seperation especially when the connections are India bound.
Last week I was directed to this front page anchor [the one at the bottom] article in the Indian Express called In a Maharashtra village, school dropouts power MIT experiment via a post by Patrix.

This is just me but this article is somewhat badly titled, probably sutiable for sploid.
Anyways the article adds -

Far from India�s tech hubs �Pune at 80 km, is the closest�Pabal is home to one of six worldwide MIT Fab Labs, or fabrication laboratories that try to build ��everything from anything��. Manned today by school dropouts and underprivileged children, the Fab Lab is a collection of high-tech tools that can be used to fabricate instruments of any utility and configuration.

MIT first set up a small lab in 1992, at Pabal�s Vigyan Ashram�an organization that provides vocational and informal education to underprivileged and school dropouts. On March 18 this year, MIT upgraded it to a full-fledged Fab Lab at a cost of $200,000.

Manu Prakash, a research student at MIT�s Centre for Bits and Atoms, explained that Vigyan Ashram was chosen because it used ��innovative techniques�� and underprivileged students in solving problems of the rural population. Prakash has been training the ashram students�the ashram has set up 23 internet kiosks across Pabal�using machines and software developed by his colleagues back in the US. ��The focus area of this laboratory will be agriculture instrumentation, sensors and tools using electronic and mechanical technology,�� Prakash said.

The Fab Lab�s objective is to take tech to the masses of the developing world to solve local problems. So it comes with computer-controlled fabrication tools, open source computer-aided design and manufacturing software, associated electronic components and test equipment.
High-tech rural empowerment anybody ?

Bussiness week adds.

Starting in 2002, Gershenfeld began tapping the National Science Foundation for funds to deploy fab labs at remote locations in places such as Ghana, India, and Arctic Norway. In Norway's far north, where the native Sami keep flocks of sheep and reindeer, herder Haakon Karlsen makes little radio tags and wireless radio-relay stations so the Sami can track their animals' movements. In Pabal, a farming village in western India, a school is fab-labbing devices that will tune tractor engines to run on fuel squeezed from locally grown castor beans, since farmers can't afford diesel. And engineers at Takoradi Technical Institute are working on a solar-energy project that will bring electricity to villages in Ghana.
What this technology brings to mind an almost Star Trek like image with people using a replicator like machine to build almost anything.Here's a peak.

For the next generation of fab labs, Gershenfeld hopes to include a piece of equipment known as a rapid prototyping machine -- a device that is already becoming common in industry. Some are basically ink-jet printers that create three-dimensional "images" from computer models, laying down layer upon layer of plastic, powdered metal, or other materials. Overnight they can create the shell of a cellular phone. Eventually, by combining plastics and metal circuitry, they're expected to deliver a working cell phone -- or pretty much any other gadget.
Pretty exciting exciting isn't it may be in the future you could make you own personalized cell-phone , or mp3 play, or back scratcher or anything your mind dreams up.

Now only, if I could find a way build the 26$s I need to buy this book.

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