Tag Archives: fab

AtFAB – Open Source Furniture

AtFAB is hoping that you will think about having your next table, chair or shelf cut out on a CNC machine.

Their furniture is licensed under a Creative Commons non-commercial license, so you can do whatever you want with it as long as you don’t sell it. If you want to sell it, they seem open to the idea of giving you an individual commercial license.

Balancing openness with the inherent need to pay for hardware development is tricky. For example, AtFAB will give you the DXF files for the furniture, but only after you exchange a couple emails and sign up for their mailing list. That seems fair, especially considering they have a nifty little app that lets you change some of the parameters in the files before you download them. You can stretch the chair out into a bench or adjust the cutlines to account for different material thicknesses.

Open design has been around just as long as open hardware, and the two have a lot of overlap since you need something physical to design on. That being said, I’m split on whether or not it makes any sense to “design” open hardware. On the one hand it never hurts to make something look prettier. On the other hand, open source designs tend to be utilitarian (because they tend to be cheap and require as few manufacturing steps as possible) so trying to “design” them starts to look an awful lot like trying too hard. An angular little chair is still an angular little chair after you paint an orange stripe on it.

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In Pursuit of a Mobile Place for Making Things

Often a person’s creativity can exceed their means.

If we assume that innovation benefits the entire world, then it makes sense to bring the tools necessary for innovation to the people who can take advantage of them. Why should a great idea stay locked up in someone’s head just because they don’t have a garage or because they can’t afford a 4-axis CNC milling machine? Why should a promising concept wither on the vine just because someone can’t drive 30 minutes to meet with people who can help them develop it?

TJ McCue suggested in Forbes that we start, “Creating a mini mobile makerspace that can be built again and again, almost like an open source RepRap, by small dedicated teams.” He didn’t specifically mention it, but I assume the reference to RepRap is meant to imply that the mobile makerspace could be self-reproducing.

Wouldn’t that be a great tool for increasing the pace of innovation and the penetration of open source philosophy? It could start out as a simple structure that is made with the fabrication tools which then packages them up and transports them. Over time, as more DIY fabrication tools are available, the whole thing could be bootstrapped from almost nothing. Then it could make an exact copy of itself! Kind of like an ultra-small version of Open Source Ecology’s Global Village Construction Set.

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