Fab Labs: A Place for Innovation, Collaboration, and Creation?

Fab Labs: A Place for Innovation, Collaboration, and Creation?

Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Arnaud Scaillerez
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3473-1.ch025
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In recent decades, innovation has become a central issue in the survival of public and private organizations. To meet this challenge, most of them are exploring new ways of organizing work, including seeking to build on the creativity of their employees. These explorations result in the invention of new forms of coordination and cooperation. At the same time, job tasks and employment relationships have become more complex and diversified over time and need to be redefined. Organizations are also looking for ways to increase the innovative spirit of their employees and to develop organizational innovation (autonomy, versatility, development of collective actions, teamwork for example). This context contributes to the creation of new forms of employment and activities. To ensure these restructurings and these new expectations, new ways of organizing work are unfolding, which has helped to make it possible to implement fabs labs. The paper goes over the concept and develops on issues and challenges of fab labs.
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Fab Labs are proliferating around the world and are presented as new places of collaboration and exchange open to all and in which anything is possible, but these places are more specifically oriented towards the fabrication of products with 3D printers in many cases, or other types of productions. In doing so, the place does allow for the creation of many innovations and facilitates meetings between creatives and designers. However, they can also create certain risks that are not yet necessarily documented.

In this chapter, the authors propose to draw up a synthetic and nuanced inventory of the benefits and risks created by fab labs. This assessment is therefore original, given the lack of research on the negative aspects of these places and the lack of contrasting studies on the subject in particular.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Manufacturer-e-s: All persons (experts or amateurs) who use the fab lab and who wish to manufacture a material or immaterial object.

Exchanges: Sharing of knowledge and experiences between manufacturers in order to develop forms of manufacturing in the best conditions.

Skills: All the knowledge, experiences, know-how and mutual expertise held by users of a fab lab in order to create a collective manufacturing.

Collaboration: Behavior resulting from exchanges, mutual aid and sharing of skills between manufacturers, as well as the provision and sharing of materials (tools and materials) present in the fab lab to create a manufactured object in common by the users of the place.

Mutualisation: Pooling of all skills, all tools (cutting machine ...) and all materials (wood board, paper ...) in order to encourage collaboration and manufacture between manufacturers.

Manufacturing Laboratory: A place that welcomes all types of manufacturers by providing all of its tools and materials, while creating a climate conducive to exchanges and collaboration.

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