Digital Fabricating

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


Subtractive manufacturing is a process by which 3D objects are constructed by successively cutting material away from a solid block of material. Subtractive manufacturing can be done by manually cutting the material but is most typically done with a CNC Machine.


3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to create a three-dimensional object in which layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. Objects can be of almost any shape or geometry.


Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser most commonly through optics. The laser optics and CNC (computer numerical control) are used to direct the material or the laser beam generated.

Molding & Casting

Casting is a manufacturing process in which a liquid material is poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process.