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UK's First FabLab Brings Invention to the People

- With Photo

MANCHESTER, England, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- If you want to make your own skateboard, a robot, or even a house.... you can bring your ideas and inventions to life at the UK's first FabLab which will open by the end of 2009 in Manchester.

FabLabs are community workshops where almost anyone can make almost anything. They give everyone- from small children through to inventors and businesses - the capability to turn their ideas into reality.

There are 35 FabLabs worldwide - located in US cities and rural India and from the northern tip of Norway to African villages. Each is connected by a global communications network, enabling the sharing of ideas, designs and knowledge.

Born from an outreach project by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in inner-city Boston, FabLabs have exploded around the world. The Manufacturing Institute (http://www.manufacturinginstitute.co.uk) hopes that the Manchester FabLab will be the first of many for the UK and it has partnered with MIT, Manchester City Council and New East Manchester to open the first centre in east Manchester.

Shepherds in Norway have used their FabLab to create mobile phones to track sheep while Afghanistan 'FabLabbers' have created a local telecoms infrastructure and prosthetic limbs.

Other quirkier inventions include a web browser for a parrot, an alarm clock you wrestle with to wake you up and a 'scream body' that allows you to vent extreme frustration into a soundproof pouch and then release the noise later..

FabLab founder Professor Neil Gershenfeld, director of The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, said: "FabLabs give people the tools they need to create technology, to be creative and make the stuff that they can't buy in the shops. Manchester led the first industrial revolution and now it is at the centre of a new industrial revolution where anyone can make anything, anywhere using digital manufacturing."

Julie Madigan, Chief Executive of the Manufacturing Institute, said: "This is a grass roots, community project that gives everybody the tools to tap into their powers of invention. By empowering individuals, developing skills, furthering innovation, educating children and prototyping new product ideas from business, a FabLab can stimulate the economy and benefit many different parts of the community."

Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, said: "FabLab is another first for Manchester and is a key part of the regeneration for east Manchester. This world-class imaginative project has the power to inspire invention and innovation opportunities which I am sure the creative talent of Manchester will seize - bringing together young and old, businesses and individuals, to share in creating their own products."

Although typical FabLabs have a technically skilled staff, much of the learning and teaching comes from other users and by communicating with people in other FabLabs internationally. The philosophy is open source, whereby people use the centre for free in return for sharing full information with the global community. Businesses and inventors can opt to protect their product development ideas by paying to use the service.

Note to Editors:

A picture accompanying this release is available through the PA Photowire. It can be downloaded from http://www.pa-mediapoint.press.net or viewed at http://www.mediapoint.press.net or http://www.prnewswire.co.uk.

Media information: Janet Kilpatrick: +44(0)161-487-3830, mobile: +44(0)7794-192677, janetk@manufacturinginstitute.co.uk

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