Cover image for Fab : the coming revolution on your desktop--from personal computers to personal fabrication
Fab : the coming revolution on your desktop--from personal computers to personal fabrication
Gershenfeld, Neil A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2005]

Physical Description:
x, 278 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
How to make -- Almost anything -- The past -- Hard ware -- The present -- Birds and bikes -- Subtraction -- Growing inventors -- Addition -- Building models -- Description -- Playing at work -- Computation -- Making sense -- Instrumentation -- Net work -- Communication -- Art and artillery -- Interaction -- The future -- Joy -- The details.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
T174 .G476 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



What if you could someday put the manufacturing power of an automobile plant on your desktop? It may sound far-fetched-but then, thirty years ago, the notion of "personal computers" in every home sounded like science fiction. According to Neil Gershenfeld, the renowned MIT scientist and inventor, the next big thing is personal fabrication -the ability to design and produce your own products, in your own home, with a machine that combines consumer electronics with industrial tools. Personal fabricators (PF's) are about to revolutionize the world just as personal computers did a generation ago. PF's will bring the programmability of the digital world to the rest of the world, by being able to make almost anything-including new personal fabricators. In FAB , Gershenfeld describes how personal fabrication is possible today, and how it is meeting local needs with locally developed solutions. He and his colleagues have created "fab labs" around the world, which, in his words, can be interpreted to mean "a lab for fabrication, or simply a fabulous laboratory." Using the machines in one of these labs, children in inner-city Boston have made saleable jewelry from scrap material. Villagers in India used their lab to develop devices for monitoring food safety and agricultural engine efficiency. Herders in the Lyngen Alps of northern Norway are developing wireless networks and animal tags so that their data can be as nomadic as their animals. And students at MIT have made everything from a defensive dress that protects its wearer's personal space to an alarm clock that must be wrestled into silence. These experiments are the vanguard of a new science and a new era-an era of "post-digital literacy" in which we will be as familiar with digital fabrication as we are with the of information processing. In this groundbreaking book, the scientist pioneering the revolution in personal fabrication reveals exactly what is being done, and how. The technology of FAB will allow people to create the objects they desire, and the kind of world they want to live in.

Author Notes

Neil Gershenfeld is the director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What if you could design a bicycle on your computer and e-mail the file to a friend halfway across the globe, who could then "print" it out of solid materials and ride it? This scenario is not only possible some day in the future, it can be done right now. Gershenfeld is the director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, where he teaches an extremely popular course called "How to Make (Almost) Anything." He says that the next phase beyond personal laser and ink-jet printers is personal fabrication, where devices will be able to output three-dimensional materials, such as plastics, glass, and metals, in precise tolerances, so that you will literally be able to make anything you can dream of. To illustrate this primer in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), Gershenfeld shows numerous examples of how to create the 3-D letters "HELLO WORLD" in different materials. He also profiles a number of creative individuals who are leading the way in this field. It's an interesting mix of technical computer theory and fun real-world examples. --David Siegfried Copyright 2005 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gershenfeld, who runs MIT?s Center for Bits and Atoms, foresees a time when computers will upgrade from PCs to PFs, or personal fabricators. This eye-opening survey of ?fab labs? completes the progression in Gershenfeld?s earlier studies of the overlapping of computer science and physical science, such as When Things Start to Think (1999). A programmable PF, predicts Gershenfeld, will make it possible for users to design and create their own objects, instead of shopping for existing products. Interest in such cybercrafting became evident in 1998, Gershenfeld says, when an overwhelming number of students took MIT?s How to Make (Almost) Anything course, aimed at ?fulfilling individual desires rather than merely meeting mass-market needs.? After inspecting those students? unique creations, Gershenfeld offers a history of how things are designed and made, from the Renaissance to industrialized automation, and then offers an overview of the technology and social implications this science involves. The 150 illustrations aid in clarifying some abstract concepts. Gershenfeld?s extrapolation of these futuristic wonders is a visionary tour of technology, tools and pioneering PFers, making this an important update to Stewart Brand?s 1987 The Media Lab. However, a ?self-reproducing? PF that can make anything, including itself, is a chilling reminder of Philip K. Dick?s 1955 Autofac, with its frightening prospect of an automated factory system beyond human control. Agent, John Brockman. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

When technology manufacturer Ken Olson proclaimed in 1977 that "[t]here is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home," he vastly underestimated the device's functionality. Gershenfeld (director, Ctr. for Bits and Atoms, MIT; When Things Start To Think) waxes enthusiastic about the coming of the "personal fabricator," that is, "a machine that makes machines." If you think Star Trek's "replicator" is purely science fiction, get ready for "fab labs." Gershenfeld and his colleagues have established these breeding grounds of invention in India, Africa, Norway, and Boston to empower local people to use technology to create jewelry from junk, capture solar power, and make milk safe to drink. Throughout, we are shown how art and artisan have reunited "to put control of the creation back in the hands of its users" and make science hands-on for children, engineers, and rural craftspeople alike. Fab-ulous and highly recommended for all libraries.-Heather O'Brien, Ph.D. student, SLIS, Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, N.S. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

How To Make...p. 1
...Almost Anythingp. 19
The Pastp. 29
Hardwarep. 43
The Presentp. 53
Birds and Bikesp. 57
Subtractionp. 67
Growing Inventorsp. 77
Additionp. 93
Building Modelsp. 103
Descriptionp. 121
Playing at Workp. 133
Computationp. 149
Making Sensep. 161
Instrumentationp. 173
Networkp. 181
Communicationp. 197
Art and Artilleryp. 207
Interactionp. 219
The Futurep. 227
Joyp. 245
The Detailsp. 255
Indexp. 265