Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. 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. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.
A Fab Lab is generally equipped with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make "almost anything"
Fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. This currently includes:
A computer-controlled lasercutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
A larger (4'x8') numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts
A signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards
Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors