Kerala will be launching a mini and super fab lab, a larger version of the technical protogyping platform for design fabrication technology, in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The State government claims that this will be the world’s first such facility to function outside of the US.
Fab Labs are fabrication laboratories offering digital fabrication and computation. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the new Fab Labs on January 25.
The Super Fab Lab at Kerala Startup Mission’s (KSUM) Integrated Startup Complex (ISC) in Kalamassery, Kochi, will have state-of-the-art machines worth more than Rs 7 crore in an area of 10,000 square feet. Kerala today has two electronic fab labs, functioning at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. The super fab lab at Kochi, along with electronics hardware incubator Maker Village and biotech counterpart Bio-Nest, will make ISC one of the country’s most sought-after investment hubs, said KSUM.
A Mini Fab Lab will be launched in Palakkad, adding to a state-wide network of 20 such establishments that allow students to learn digital fabrication and experiment with the technology which combines computer-aided design with additive and subtractive manufacturing.
KSUM Chief Executive Officer Saji Gopinath said the collaboration with MIT will also allow Kerala’s hardware startups to use the Super Fab Lab and work with researchers of MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms on an MTM (Machine That Make) project. “This explores the possibility of using machines in a fab lab to create machines for its own use. In essence, it creates a pathway to desktop manufacturing,” he added.
Existing Fab Labs in the State has become a platform for students, faculty and entrepreneurs in the state to learn the ropes of digital fabrication. These fab labs also provide innovators the capability to rapidly prototype their ideas and create bespoke solutions. Two of the most notable startups who made use of Fab Lab facilities are GenRobotics, which created a sewage cleaning robot named Bandicoot, and EyeRov that created the country’s first underwater robotic drone (EyeRov Tuna), said KSUM officials.