Fablab, makerspace, or hackerspace?

What's the difference between a fablab and a makerspace and which one is right for you?

Berlin's c-base was one of the first independent hackerspaces—a non-profit association dedicated to increasing knowledge and skills related to computer software, hardware and data networks. C-base opened in 1995 and influenced the creation of many hackerspaces or "hacker collectives" in the United States. Hackerspaces in the US tended to be places where a group of computer programmers and engineers could collectively meet, work, and share infrastructure.  One aspect of hacking was trying to repurpose hardware and make it do something it wasn’t originally meant to do.

The  term ‘makerspace’ first appeared in 2005, but did not become popular until 2011, "when Dale and MAKE Magazine registered makerspace.com and started using the term to refer to publicly-accessible places to design and create" (Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab?). Makerspaces, unlike Hakerspaces tend to have well-considered shop layouts, tools dedicated to each craft that the space supports, and are organized as traditional businesses rather than as collectives.  At the core of the makerspace is the maker mindset, the desire for creating something out of nothing and exploring one's own interests. Makerspaces can be inside schools, libraries or in separate public/private facilities and focus on making, learning, exploring and sharing. They can have high tech to low tech, to no tech tools.

TechShop is the name of a chain of for-profit spaces started in 2006 in Menlo Park, California. TechShop offers public access to high-end manufacturing equipment in exchange for membership fees. All TechShops include woodworking, machining, welding, sewing, and CNC fabrication capabilities.FabLabs are a network of spaces inspired by Neil Gershenfeld from the Center for Bits and Atom's MIT course called How to Make (Almost) Anything. Started by Neil Gershenfeld in 2005, 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. The founding principle is that there is a core set of tools that allow novice makers to make almost anything given a brief introduction to engineering and design education. FabLabs have a specific set of space requirements, required tools, supporting software for those tools, curriculum and rules, like requiring the space to be open to the public for little or no cost for recurring periods.FabLearn Labs is a network of K-12 school-based labs run out of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL), a research group led by Paulo Blikstein within Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. These labs put digital fabrication and other cutting-edge technology for design and construction into the hands of middle and high school students. The goal of FabLearn Labs is similar to the Fab Lab network, but with a focus on the special needs and practices that support K-12 education.

TitleTypeSourceDescription
Shopping list for a makerspaceOnline guideLaurie StachLaurie Stach is an MIT instructor, Program Manager of High School Education at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and Commander of ProtoWorks maker space. When you're ready to do budgeting, the below can serve as a guide for a cost-effective maker space.  As you'll see, the biggest contributor to initial setup costs are the "premium items" like a laser cutter and 3D printer.  More intensive maker spaces may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-end prototyping machines in this category.
Fab Foundation's "Setting up a Fab Lab"Online guideMaker EdThe cheapest and fastest method to get a fab lab is to buy  and assemble it yourself. This approach does require that you have some good expertise on hand to help you set up,  install, debug and train. There are a few other ways to get a lab, but they are more expensive and require some contractual transactions.

Digital Harbor Foundation's "How to Make Your Makerspace" Online courseDigital HarborTurn any  space into a makerspace with this new online course. In each lesson you will build a new tool to support making in your school, library, or any other youth focused makerspace.

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