I love machines. I love machines mainly because they are consistent. Because they are consistent they are easier to understand. It might be because of this that I find the more complex the machines, the lovelier they become.
At one point in the development of science, mechanics, which is the basic science of machines, was somewhat looked down upon in favor of other fields, such as physics, chemistry, electronics, etc. Mechanics were often called “grease monkeys.” Especially because mechanics were more often than not represented by people who fixed car engines. Which is, of course, a generally “dirty” enterprise. And yet, good mechanics always wear their grease with a measure of pride. Who can love the machine more than the person who operates and fixes them for a living?
And yet, machines have grown much over the years, even as the idea of fixing car engines has somewhat become an esoteric enterprise. These days engines that get busted more often than not from misuse are simply replaced rather than fixed. In the old days, engines were overhauled, their worn parts re-machined. All these were done by or under supervision of a mechanic. Nowadays, there are machines and then, there are Machines.
I am thinking this because I was lucky enough to be involved with the opening of Fablab, University of the Philippines Cebu. Fablab is short for Fabrication Laboratory, which is a facility containing a set of machines designed primarily to produce prototypes of everything from design objects to art to other machines. The machines are operated with computers, 3D printers, printer-cutter, laser cutter and Computer Numeric Controlled milling machines.
Fablab UP Cebu is established as a partnership between UP Cebu and the Department of Trade and Industry. And yet it is modeled after a system of Fablabs interlinked globally. Fablabs are “Maker Spaces.” This means they are spaces where people, especially young people, can go to make things, especially useful objects. Using machines to make other machines may as well be the spirit behind Fablab. This, along with the idea of making prototyping machines available to people who love machines with a passion.
Another core principle of Fablab is that it is here to help train people to operate the machines themselves. This means that the clientele of Fablab should ideally operate the machines that do their projects; of course, with close supervision by regular Fablab staff. It is not a facility to make things for people. It is there to do things with people.
Or better yet, to help train people to do things themselves.
The potential benefit of putting these machines in a single place, so to speak, under one roof, is obvious. Fablab would become a place where like-minded people can gather and share thoughts. It would become a gathering place not just of artists, architects, and designers, but also of people with a predisposition for machines; in other words, engineers, computer geeks, mechanics, and who knows exactly who else. Who knows what can happen if you get these people together in single place? One imagines a love affair of science and art. The possible outcomes seem immediately staggering.
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