Designing a Business Model for the Next Digital Revolution: Personal Fabrication

First there was a digital revolution in computation (personal computer), then in communications (convergence and mobile phones). The next digital revolution, according to MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld (2005), is in the field of manufactured physical goods (personal fabrication). Gershenfeld and his colleagues have created so-called Fablabs around the world: fabrication laboratories, equipped with digital fabrication machines (e.g. laser cutter, 3D router) and interconnected with communities around the world through web tools and videoconferencing.
Fablab as a community-based learning environment

  • a ‘make’ place (Leont’ev, 1982)
  • empowering communities (analogous to the open source movement)
  • a community based learning laboratory (Leonard-Barton, 1992)

Troxler (2010). Personal Fabrication. Designing a Business Model for the Next Digital Revolution

The University of Applied Sciences Lucerne is implementing the Fablab model for the first time in Switzerland. The project will develop a customized Fablab business model for the innovation system Central Switzerland. The Lucerne business model will be a boilerplate to stimulate and support more Fablabs in Switzerland and elsewhere. It will be tested and evaluated over the coming 18 months.