Fab Labs are equipped with Roland machines, both Modela MDX-20 and GX24 Vinyl Cutter. though, we are in the path to Fab Labs 2.0, in which the machines of the Fab Lab will be produced in the Fab Lab, reducing costs and customizing machines according to specific needs. At the same time there is a whole movement of DIY machines (Rep-Rap, Fab@Home, MakerBot, and lately Ultimaker, among many others), which are creating a new scenario for makers, being able to find plans and BOM online for making your own machine at your garage, living room or even on your bedroom.
The fun comes when companies realize that something is going on, the prices are going down, and more and more people is leaving the common industrialized system of production and consumption, stoping from being customers for them. From this discovery (at companies) are coming new machines which are simpler, cheaper and accessible for almost everyone, reducing some times the price by 10 times. This is the case of the iModela, a CNC milling machine that is able to make almost the same things that the Modela MDX-20, but 10 times cheaper.
We are testing the iModela at the Fab Lab Barcelona, where we use the small CNC machine to make mainly circuit boards, the problem comes when we try to use the same tools as we use in the Modela, 1/8″ collet, while the iModela one is smaller. So far we have been able to generate gcode from RhinoCam and load it into the machine with a nice interface (much better than Modela Player 4), where you can move and set the machine in a very intuitive way.
If we are able to mill circuit boards with this machine, then we will have a much more accessible version of a Fab Lab. More updates will come…