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Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Fab-lab for crafters

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A Centre for Innovation focusing on Craft and Design in association with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) was officially opened by Minister Tasneem Essop, Western Cape’s MEC for Environment, Planning & Economic Development.

The Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) was created to promote and grow craft as an economic sector in the Western Cape. The CCDI is a joint initiative of the Western Cape Provincial Government, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Strategy (AMTS) of the Department of Science and Technology and the CPUT.

It is a centre for innovation that provides a state of the art resourced venue aimed at encouraging design, product development and process technologies for crafters and designers in the Western Cape. This will significantly boost local product competitiveness in global target markets.

The CCDI incorporates a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab-lab) which is sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This laboratory is a high tech facility with open-source design software linked to digital desktop manufacturing technology.

The laboratory provides a platform for skilled crafters and designers in promoting technical excellence, skills upgrading, knowledge transfer and access to technology and resources that so many crafters and designers are not accustomed to.

The Fab-Lab will enable designers and crafters to create prototypes of products, catch errors before they become more expensive to correct in production and test samples of products on the market before manufacturing millions. There is no cost in using the Fab-Lab and it is open to anyone who wants help in designing and in developing fresh ideas.

“This is absolutely fabulous. I have just witnessed how crafting and technology work together synergistically by enhancing the lives of local crafters. It is stunning, honestly,” said Minister Essop.

For the thousands of poor people in the Western Cape, craft is a gateway into the mainstream economy. Crafters do not have the knowledge to market their goods or improve their skills and products. With the CCDI open to those less fortunate the impossible is now possible.

The CCDI is situated on the second floor, 75 Harrington Road Cape Town.

Bookings for a two hour guided tour that will assist designers and crafters in understanding the dynamics of the lab can be done by phoning (021) 460 3981.

CAPTION: A masters student assistant, Rael Futerman, demonstrates the puzzle pieces, which form part of the GIK (Great Invention Kit). These pieces were developed by the children of Neil Gershenfeld, the founder of the Fab-Lab concept. With these puzzles one can do 3D modeling, creating basic shapes such as eclipses, circles, triangles, rectangles, to test the shape of larger objects.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za