The Fablab - The New and The Old Laboratory

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Morten Tranum Feldborg
4. term, Techno-Anthropology, Master (Master Programme)
Fablabs and the maker movement have in recent years received a great deal of attention from the public, media and in academia. Fablabs as laboratories for digital fabrication are gaining momentum and successfully spreading across the world. These workshops exists as creative hubs where people can realise their ideas into physical products with high-tech fabrication machines.
This thesis is based on a wonder about why fablabs have chosen to use the laboratory notion and hence it is investigated how fablabs can by seen as laboratories when applying theory about the natural scientific laboratory derived from Science and Technology Studies (STS).
The empirical investigation is realised through an ethnographic field study of a designated fablab, Fablab Nordvest, located in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen. The further analysis of the empirical data applies key approaches from previous laboratory studies from the field of STS in a framework consisting of a sequential progression of inputs, transformations and outputs in the natural scientific laboratory to further understand fablab processes.
From the subsequent discussion of how the fablab can be seen as a laboratory in relation to the classic laboratory in natural science it is concluded that the two laboratories although having some similarities also are fundamentally different. They differ in relation to outputs and their general intentions and hence also the structure of the internal processes.
The fablab as a diverse and experimental laboratory can contrary to the natural scientific laboratory that focuses on production of scientific articles through concrete scientific procedures be viewed as a new version of the classic laboratory. This new type of laboratory is a laboratory calibrated for modern times and especially the interests of the maker movement that seek to realise their ideas into concrete physical products.
Publication date2016
Number of pages66
ID: 235097320