Fab Lab Phase 4
Phase 4 centers on the material feedstocks for digital fabrication. The limit to the prosperity engendered by digital fabrication is not determinted by the equipment base, for which the technology is readily available - but by the availability of feedstocks that are used with the Fab Labs. Raw natural materials such as rocks, earth, plants, animals, air, and water are the basic natural resources that are converted into all the feedstocks for producing physical objects (foodstuffs, cars, computers, etc.). Thus, it is crucial to open source the ability of people to generate these feedstocks from raw, natural materials. Among some priorities for feedstock generatino are:
- Silicon from sand - Silicon is the prime component of advanced, computer-based society. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust, after oxygen. There is no reason why silicon solar cells cannot be used as the main energy source in society - based on material and energy constraints. The energy constraint is addressed by using fabricated silicon solar cells to produce the energy required to produce further silicon cells.
- Aluminum from clay - an entire modern economy can be based on aluminum, the third most abundant element in the earth's crust (following silicon)
- Biofuels - such as Personal Fuel Makers operating from wood fibers or cellulose
- Fibers - such as open source harvesting and small scale processing equipment for natural fibers.