Posted On: 23rd October 2015
A new industrial revolution could transform traditional manufacturing, says Dr Julie Madigan, Chief Executive of The Manufacturing Institute.
"A 'quiet revolution' involving a move towards 'boutique manufacturing' is taking place in the UK", explained Madigan. "Manufacturing specialists working in factories no longer have a monopoly on production. Technological developments are empowering people of all ages and from all walks of life to design and make things. "
The Manufacturing Institute launched the UK's first Fab Lab (digital fabrication laboratory) in Manchester, in 2010. The concept has blossomed and the Manufacturing Institute is leading the roll-out of Fab Labs across the UK.
"This is unlocking the ability of 'garden shed tinkerers' to move forward and to design and develop sophisticated products", said Madigan.
Fab Labs promote grassroots innovation - providing an opportunity for almost anyone to design and make almost anything . There’s a wealth of manufacturing expertise available as well as a wide variety of digital and practical equipment – including 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters and milling machinery.
Madigan added "By making what we need locally – with minimum or no waste – a new model of 'boutique manufacturing' is emerging. It’s helped on the way by a new generation of IT literate people who aren’t afraid of having a go at making things for themselves. At a time when there’s broad consensus that the British economy needs to be rebalanced in favour of manufacturing, this revolution and extension of the boundaries of traditional manufacturing couldn’t be taking place at a better time."
Members of the public have free use of the Fab Lab during open sessions, but the facilities are also aimed at businesses and entrepreneurs - for the production of product prototypes and testing out ideas. While public users are expected to share their inventions with the global Fab Lab network, businesses can develop innovations in private and at low cost.
Further information: www.fablabmanchester.org