Fab Lab in Olakha

Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay,and Professor Neil Gershenfeld inaugurated the FabLab Bhutan on Thursday evening at Olakha.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay in his keynote address said that STEM-Olympiad drew his attention in depicting the capabilities of the youth. He shared that the students displayed ideas of organic villages, living as community, sustainable cities and many more models.

“I marveled at the qualities of ideas and the relevance in Bhutan, the abilities to transfer those ideas into models,” Dasho said.

He added that the DIY (do it yourself) spirit runs through the veins of all our youths but that he was concerned that perhaps we had to nurture it before its late.

He said that in rural villages kids make their own toys but in urban places the availability of ready made toys seemed to kill creativity in children.

“I was concerned that we might lose it but the answer in Bhutan now is FabLab where ideas can be translated into reality.

He rendered that the goal is to have a FabLab in every Central School in Bhutan and that the goal is realistic.

Dasho thanked the Massachusetts institute of Technology (MIT), USA and everyone involved in the success of FabLab in Bhutan.

“As we inaugurate Bhutan’s first FabLab, I know this is going to succeed and be relevant,” he concluded.

Fab labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. They began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). CBA assembled millions of dollars in machines for research in digital fabrication, ultimately aiming at developing programmable molecular assemblers that will be able to make almost anything. Fab labs fall between these extremes, comprising roughly fifty thousand dollars in equipment and materials that can be used today to do what will be possible with tomorrow’s personal fabricators.

Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. Activities in fab labs range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.

Fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. This currently includes a computer-controlled lasercutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts, larger (4’x8’) numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts.

There is a signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas, precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards and programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors

These work with components and materials optimized for use in the field, and are controlled with custom software for integrated design, manufacturing, and project management.

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