The 10K FabLab

Please note this happened 6 years ago as a proof of concept, today for $10k  you can have better machines.
At FAB12 in Shenzhen I even announced a $2k fully functional FabLab for education.

At the FAB9 Conference in Yokohama (aug2013) we got the request to explore a Small Fablab Suite of machines for ‘The $10k fablab’, which is a nickname for a small fablab/makerspace in the range between 10 and 15k investment.


The SFS should comprise a lasercutter, vinylcutter, router, 3D printer and an elementary electronics workbench
Such a suite must – like the MIT standard suite – comply to conditions like:

  • Stable products
  • Quality
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to maintain
  • An easy to assemble kit is acceptable
  • Open source if possible
  • Worldwide available including supply chain.

A caveat though: machines may scale, but the learning curve for software not.

Lasercutter Full Spectrum H-series 5Gen
 € 3500 with a bed of 30 x 50 cms (Epilog is 30 x 60 cms). Built in the USA  and originally a Kickstarter project. It can be networked and its Retina Engrave software permits to print directly from any drawing program.

full spectrumSmall lasercutters use a glass CO2 tube, with a life span of about 1000 hours. Replacement of a tube costs about € 250 and is a simple task. No LaOS Laser Open Source converted lasercutter is proposed as LaOS is only mature for technicians.

NOTE: If you order 220V FS5Gen, you may receive a 110V type with a 220/110V stepdown transformer and – if ordered – 110V compressor and pump. But you can remove the removable bottom and switch the powersupply to 220V. And then source your own 220V compressor (Hailea ACO-328, €50) and a 220V 1200l/hr aquariumpump (Eheim Compact 1000 or Tetra WP1000,  €35). This will make you more mobile.

Mill/router CNC-Step High-Z 720   € 4500 Bedsize 72 x 42 cms, but also available in 40 x 30  and 100 x 60 cms Made in Germany and with Swiss ball screws  (Kugelumlaufspindel) With trapezium screws € 3700

cnc-step720-300x225 It comes with PC-NC or WIN PCNC light controller software. Plus a CAM program ConstruCAM-3D.

3D Printer Ultimaker2  € 1895 Ultimaker also offers a self-assembly kit for € 1195. Made in the Netherlands. Its software CURA stands out and will accept any .stl file.

UM2-300x172There are many 3D printers on the market. The MIT inventory no longer lists the Makerbot, which has become a closed source machine. Ultimaker states it will stay open source. And that shows.

Recently MIT added another printer, the 3DWOX by Sindoh.
A closed box with a door, uses CURA too. $ 1299. Needs proprietary filament cartridges.


Vinylcutter GCC Expert 24 LX  €  700

60 cm wide throughput. Comes with ‘printer driver’, but I would add its CutCreator software € 150. Made in China


Electronics workbench € 1000. Soldering irons, components, microcontrollers etc

Anna Waldman-Brown writes 23jun14:
'Here’s a reliable electronics equipment list used by Rajesh Nair for starting new Small Fab Labs around Kerala, India! He buys most things from websites in the USA and brings it all to India himself. Inventory List for MINI FABLAB'

Here an example of the original Small Fablab Suite that meets above conditions:

* Lasercutter Full Spectrum 5Gen €  3.000
* Mill/router CNC-Step High-Z 720 €  4.500
* Vinylcutter GCC Expert 24 LX €     700
* 3D Printer Ultimaker2 €  1.900
* Electronics workbench €  1.000
Total (excl. tax & shipping) € 11.100