New Zealand has done well for themselves in terms of attracting Hollywood productions and the resultant job-creating support clusters. Now, as the result of a collaboration between Massey University's School of Design and MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, they're hoping to put themselves on the map for another industry: Digital fabrication.
The ribbon's been cut on Fab Lab Wellington, a digital fabrication facility stocked with CNC laser cutters, milling machines, 3D printers and the like. By joining MIT's Fab Lab network, which seeks to spread Fab Labs worldwide, Fab Lab Wellington will now be part of a projected 130 other Fab Labs worldwide all sharing information. And local designers will of course benefit from having access to production machinery too expensive for small design firms to acquire.
"We can provide access to technology," says MU Industrial Design Lecturer Chris Jackson, "but also help people make connections between disciplines and industries, and that should be a catalyst to more innovation in New Zealand."
From their home base in the Boston area, MIT's CBA has Fab Labs as far-flung as India, Norway and South Africa. Fab Lab Wellington is the first in the Australasia region but, Jackson hopes, will not be the only. "We want to be a hub to get labs across New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific," he explains. "We're already talking to other universities, wananga [Maori schools], secondary schools and public libraries."
Fab Lab Wellington isn't limited to designers, by the way; it will also be open to the general public and will feature workshops by Massey industrial designers.
Massey industrial design lecturer Chris Jackson and MIT Professor Neil Gershenfeld prepare to cut the ribbon at the inauguration of Fab Lab Wellington.