Where does it come from
The Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), headed by Prof. Dr. Neil Gershenfeld of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has started a study into the computational capacities that are inherent to physical systems. For that reason it has set up a first laboratory for digital fabrication, also known as "Fab Lab" (Fabrication Laboratory). As an interdisciplinary educational outreach programme, the CBA has supported the setting up abroad of a small number of similar Fab Labs, to be able to do further research into the effects and possibilities of making accessible the computational capabilities of the physical layer. The Fab Lab concept quickly became popular among users outside the research domain, and an international network of similar Fab Labs came into being that were all active in the areas of research, education and application of personal digital fabrication. These Fab Labs cooperate with local communities, universities and (international) governments.
At the beginning of 2011, the international Fab Lab network consisted of over 50 Fab Labs in 16 countries, made possible by hundreds of staff members (paid and volunteers). These Fab Labs use the same tools and processes and an international infrastructure for co-operation in digital design and fabrication.