Project FAB LAT | Innovation & Inclusion
Latin American Network Digital Fabrication Laboratory
Benito Juárez Vélez Fab LaT Co-founder and Director
President of the Fab Lab Peru Association
Creation Year 2011 in Lima during the 7th World Congress Fab Lab
Promoted by Fab Lab España and Fab Lab Peru | with the participation of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia,Costa Rica,Chile,El Salvador and Venezuela
Fab LaT is a project that democratizes the access to innovation, by developing a network of inclusive technology labs connecting the latest in digital manufacturing technologies (Fab Lab) with Latin America’s potential.
Fab LaT integrates diverse disciplines, cultures and ages in the development of new technologies, processes and products, re-evaluating our wealth in biodiversity and multiculturalism.
- BACKGROUND> FAB LAB: The New Industrial (R)evolution.
Digital fabrication laboratories are created by The Center of Bits and Atoms, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-CBA http://fab.cba.mit.edu) in 2001, with the objective of providing power to the people to do “almost” anything (Neil Gershenfeld). The Fab Labs projects are focused on local issues with global impact, ranging from rapid prototyping machines, biomedical, power generation, process automation, architectural structures to solutions of high-tech companies.
- THE CHALLENGE> INCLUSION REQUIRES ADAPTATION
In the last four years the Fab Labs’s growth has been exponential, reaching so far in 2013 more than 250 laboratories worldwide. In despite of looking to be an inclusive project, 75% of laboratories Fabs are located in developed countries (40% in Europe and 35% United States) andonly 5 % in Latin America. http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/labs/.
What are the causes of this difference? Perhaps the sense of “technological Democratization” which is conceived the Fab Labs in developed countries differs to much of the Latin America’s reality?…
2.1 MAIN CAUSES
Latin America remains a region that economic growth is based on the exploitation of raw materials, but not in the generation of high value-added products. Why? Some key factors include:
Educational Factor | Most of universities and institutes in Latin America guide the students to a consumer technology education, but not development. This reality is reflected then in professionals, companies and organizations that focus their activities on production and trade but rarely in innovation. Less than 2% (http://www.cepal.org) companies incorporates innovation and development activities. At the low level of innovation we add an entrenched culture of competition: “win / lose.” Most companies talk of cooperation, but they don’t practice.
Economic factor | Acquire skills, tools and digital fabrication equipment in Latin America is between three to eight times more expensive than in Europe or in the US (import expenses, transportation, customs, living cost etc..).
Administrative Factor | The bureaucracy is one of the main constraints in Latin America to implement a Fab Lab; it can take between three to six times longer than in the U.S. or Europe. http://www.foroconsultivo.org.mx
So, how to create technological democratization in Latin America? How to encourage the development of technologies that allow us to provide greater value to our cultural and natural heritage? How to take a big leap from being a semi-industrial society to develop processes and products according to the new (r) evolution Industrial?
- THE ANSWER:
FAB + LAT: The opportunity to Latin America to face the new Industrial (r)evolution
In Fab LaT we work for technological democratization developing new models of inclusive laboratories, innovating processes and products of diferents industrial sectors, focusing particularly in the potential of Latin America, such as:
Latin America heirs a vast range of traditional processes: jewelery, textiles, carving, etc.., 80% of the PEA (economic active population) is linked to handicrafts and semi-industrial.
In Fab LaT we developed projets by digital manufacturing, optimizing mechanical procedures and provide more time to artisan / producer to invest in creative processes directly affecting the value of the product and improving their quality of life:
> [2012-2013] DIGITAL-GOLD | Finalist Wayra-Peru 2012 | Winner START-UP Chile 2012.
Peru is the 1st producer of Silver and 6th producer of Gold in the world, however only 3% is exported with added value.
Digital-Gold is a system that revolutionizes the way to design, manufacture and distribute custom jewelry in the world by creating 3D printers for precious metals (Gold and Silver), on-line platform for personalized jewelry and export “physical objects” by Internet.
> [2011-2013] JEWELRY DIGITAL | Contest: INNOVATE PERU 2011. Winner
Innovation of processes in manufacturing companies using digital jewelry (3D scanning, digital modeling and 3D printing).
> [2011-2013] CUSTOM FURNITURE | Contest: INNOVATE PERU 2011. Winner
Innovation in production and sale’s processes of furniture in semi-industrial joinery (90% of the national carpenters).
The system allows users to customize furniture on-line and producing joinery using digital manufacturing technologies.
> [2011-2013] DIGITAL LOOM | Fab Academy Lima 2012-13
Design and manufacture of low-cost digital loom that optimizes 60% of the production time than a traditional loom.
Creator: Walter Gonzales (Fab Lab UNI, Peru). Gonzalo Perez (Fab Lab Mexico). http://academy.cba.mit.edu/2012/students/gonzales.walter/final-presentations.html | http://academy.cba.mit.edu/2013/students/perez.gonzalo/19.html
The Andes is one of the poorest areas of the world, paradoxically, is the region with the highest biodiversity per km2 of the planet, adding the natural wealth and water of the Amazon region, the result is a privileged territory for the research and development of clean technologies. Fab LaT Labs develops new formats connected to diverse ecosystems, investigating the wealth of materials, complex shapes, bio-regenerative processes, etc.., And developing solutions to energy demands, health, education, etc.. of local communities:
> [2011-2013] ECO FAB | Fab Academy Lima 2012-13
Laboratories for integration of digital manufacturing with not industrialized materials: bamboo, reeds, mud, etc..
> FLOATING FAB LAB ON THE AMAZON RIVER |
> FLOATING FAB LAB ON THE TITICACA LAKE |
3.3> Social Capital:
In Despite of many economic constraints, bureaucratic and educational – or maybe thanks to them – continually in Latin America young visionaries groups appear facing social problems of insecurity, access of housing, lack of public spaces etc.. through various creative proposals.
These groups constitute a significant hidden force and through which they develop alternative methods for channeling the benefits of digital manufacturing to the people (Harvard Design Magazine, Edition No. 34, 2011).
In Fab LaT we promote social entrepreneurship through various programs:
> [2012-present] N-EVO The Next Evolution | www.n-evo.com
Social innovation network where users can acquire, mutate and transfer skills and tools of the Digital Manufacturing (3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, 3D Scanners, etc..) And create new projects that allow you to maximize the impact on your context.
> [2012-2013] FAB CITY LIMA | Contest: LIMA INNOVA 2012 , Winner
Network implementation of technological-social innovation labs in the Municipality of Lima. Fab City Lima is a project aimed at school-age children who can turn their ideas into tangible products and custom tools using digital manufacturing, stimulating thereby their creative talent, spirit of innovation and their ability to believe in that “it is can make your ideas reality “