This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Vitrine technologie-éducation leaves the constraints of academia to explore new spaces dedicated to learning, collaborative work and co-creation. An interesting recent discovery is the échoFab, a FAB Lab, or “digital manufacturing lab” located in the premises of Communautique in Montreal.

The échoFab is more than a digital manufacturing workshop, as its name suggests; it is a community hangout. This digital factory has opened its doors to the local community, facilitating access to different machinery, usually reserved for industrial production. The equipment available includes the following:

  • The Reprap Project (3D printer).
  • Ultimaker (3D printer).
  • Phlatprinter (CNC machine tool or CNC).
  • Welder and electronic circuitry station.
  • Coming soon: The échoRap (3D open source printer designed in-house!), inspired by the Reprap Project.

The 3D printers and automatic cutter (Phlatprinter) are computer-controlled machines that can fabricate objects from CAM (design and computer-aided manufacturing). They seem especially useful for prototyping, modeling, reconstruction of obsolete parts, creating models, orthoses or prostheses, etc… To learn how to use such machinery and its related software, the échoFab offers introductory workshops in digital manufacturing.

In the French edition there is a video interview with Wahiba Gabli of échoFab. Above is an interview with Scott Simenson who provides a tour of the Century College FAB Lab in Minnesota.

At the same time, the staff of the échoFab offers participants the opportunity to enroll in an already vast and growing global network of FAB Labs. Promoting self-empowerment as a movement, FAB Labs seek to enable individuals to produce everyday objects.

We believe that digital manufacturing is at the dawn of its expansion in our society, and we expect that in the future, neighborhoods, villages and schools will have laboratories to meet residents’ needs and realities. We believe that digital manufacturing is not simply a way to build an object, but a tool to creatively, economically and socially nurture communities and the individuals within them. [translated from échoFab 2012].

It seemed appropriate at Vitrine technologie-éducation that teachers and students learn about the variety of programs and workshops available to enable them to use this machinery. These tools are not only accessible to all through FAB Labs, but their production is also a democratic process consisting of a community of developers who offer ‘free’ plans and explanatory videos available on the web and self-replicating equipment. What a fascinating concept!

In the French edition there is a report on the presence of échoFab
at the first Mini Maker Faire in Montreal. Above is a short explanation what a FAB Lab is.

Guillaume Coulombe, a supporter of FAB Labs Quebec and co-creator of échoFab has a dream that has potential for the college network – a CEGEP being a beacon in the construction of this machinery. One can imagine the students in an Industrial Design Technology program, for example, meeting the specific needs of workshops in other colleges. Various programs would benefit such as Architectural Technology, Environmental Studies, Workers’ Health and Safety, 3D Animation as well as various artistic subjects looking to create objects and images. Could this flagship college be yours? Similar to the tours of active learning classrooms organized by Vitrine technologie-éducation, would you like to discover échoFab? Let us know if you are interested in the area devoted to comments below. Thank You!

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