Digital fabrication is a type of manufacturing process where the machine used is controlled by a computer. There are a huge range of digital fabrication techniques. The important aspect that unifies them is that the machines can reliably be programmed to make consistent products from digital designs. This means that all products made in a Fablab can be downloaded and made, reliably and repeatably, all over the world, without a maker needing to have specialist equipment.
The most common forms of digital fabrication are:
- CNC Machining: where, typically, shapes are cut out of wooden, metal and plastic sheets
- 3D Printing: where objects are built up out of layers of sandstone or plastic
- Laser Cutting: where materials like metal or plastic are burnt or melted by a laser beam
- Molding and Casting: where a liquid material is usually poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify