UK’s first public library-based Fab Lab to open in Exeter

Fab lab

Posted on: 19 May 2014

The multi-million pound Exeter Library reopens this Thursday, 22 May, following substantial refurbishment, and with it a preview of the first ‘Fab Lab‘ ever to open in a UK public library.

The Fab Lab, or fabrication laboratory, is a low-cost digital workshop equipped with laser-cutters, 3D printers and scanners, Computer Numerical Control (computer controlled) router, 3D milling machines, electronics bench and programming and design tools, where users can “make almost anything”.

Local company and leaders in 3D chocolate printing technology and design, Choc Edge, will be on hand on opening day to demonstrate 3D printing.

There are over 200 Fab Labs around the world, open to students, community users, inventors, small businesses and entrepreneurs, and commonly used to make models and prototypes. But this will be the first of a Devon-wide network, with another opening in Totnes at King Edward VI Community College this summer.

Fab Lab Exeter's portable 3D printer

Fab Lab Exeter’s portable 3D printer

Fab Lab Exeter will utilise a ground floor room in the library, adjacent and complementary to the new Business and Information Hub, which will provide business information and intellectual property (IP) support for local businesses.

It will enable users to develop or refine a product or object from first idea to a formed and working prototype. Advice and further business support is also available to help develop the business proposal to ensure a route to market.

Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Growth and Cabinet Liaison for Exeter, Cllr Andrew Leadbetter says:

“I am extremely excited to see this ambitious initiative get off the ground.

“It will play a key part in enabling the new Exeter Library and other locations in Devon to provide a relevant and innovative service.

“I am sure it will present great opportunities for creative minds in Devon who have perhaps been sitting on an idea or invention and want to take it to the next step.

“I very much look forward to seeing the technology in action.”

“Libraries have real potential as places that encourage creativity and innovation.  Not only will users of the new library in Exeter have access to works of great literature and to the world’s ‘knowledge’, but they will also be encouraged to create their own knowledge and products.” Cllr Roger Croad, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Devon’s Library Service.

Choc Edge’s founder Dr Liang Hao, said:

“We’d like to thank Devon County Council for inviting us along to the opening of what is a fantastic new facility.  We are excited by the opportunity of showcasing our Choc Creator 3D chocolate printer, which was designed and built right here in Exeter, and hope that people will be fascinated by what it can do.

“In the longer term, we’re also very much looking forward to using our skills and expertise in the field of 3D printing to help develop Fab Lab Devon, which we’re pleased to support.  We would love to create a sweet Choc Lab for the community and library.

“3D design and printing has the potential to revolutionise our everyday lives, and initiatives such as the Fab Lab can help make sure the people of Exeter and Devon are, literally, able to shape the future!”

A key plank of the Fab Lab project is to develop an outreach programme to take Fab Lab activities to other parts of Devon via Devon’s library network, Work Hubs and schools, under the banner of #FabLabDevon.

Devon County Council has invested £90,000 capital funds in the Fab Lab, with up to a further £30,000 of investment from the ACE Bridge Challenge Fund run by the Real Ideas Organisation and £30k from the Digital Makers Fund (run by Nesta and Nominet Trust, in partnership with Autodesk).  The University of Exeter and Exeter College are also supporting the Fab Lab.

Devon County Council’s Tom Dixon explains more about the Fab Lab and how people will be able to use its facilities:

Activities throughout June

The library is planning a series of business-related activities throughout June, of interest to entrepreneurs and business starters.

Full details of the opening programme will be available soon on Devon County Council’s website.   Business-related highlights include:

On Monday 2 June, 6pm to 8pm

Inspirational Entrepreneurs – Going Global, which will bring together panel of pioneering entrepreneurs who have successfully penetrated global markets.  The founder of Cobra Beer, Lord Bilimoria; Will Butler Adams, who runs Brompton Bicycles; and Sian Sutherland, founder of women’s skincare range Mam Mio, will be describing how to take advantage of export opportunities in overseas markets.

Saturday 7  June, 10am to 4pm

Rasberry Pi Jam; an opportunity to share ideas and find out more about the mini computer Rasberry Pi.

Monday 16 June, 3pm to 5pm

Getting your IP (Intellectual Property) right first time; Head of IP & IT at Stephens Scown, Ben Travers, will explain what people with business ideas need to know, from initial idea through to starting a business, marketing and manufacturing of a product or service.

Monday 30 June, 9:15am to 1:15pm

Innovate Devon Launch Event; An opportunity for business owners to find out why and how to access the benefits of knowledge and innovation to improve their bottom line.  For more information and to register, visit www.business-supportsw.com/innovation

To find out more about Fab Lab Devon and to register for updates, visit their website.

2 comments on “UK’s first public library-based Fab Lab to open in Exeter

  1. Amy says:

    What’s a ‘bootom line’ please?

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