Van Hollen, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Create National Fab Lab Network
Legislation would spur innovation and training, expanding Fab Labs across the country
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have introduced the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2018, legislation that would expand Fab Labs across the country. These facilities are equipped with digitally-controlled tools that enable individuals to create and innovate new products. Tools available range from laser cutters, to 3D printers, to automated knives, and training is also provided. To foster the growth and expansion of new and current Fab Labs, the Senators’ legislation would create a federally-chartered non-profit organization to serve as a central seed funding source for Fab Labs across the country – this network would foster public-private partnerships and provide aspiring innovators with increased access. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.).
“Building up a national network of Fab Labs will help ensure our country remains on the forefront of innovation – connecting students and entrepreneurs with new, cutting-edge ways to create their products that they wouldn’t be able to access or afford otherwise. These facilities have the ability to spur small-scale, local manufacturing and production, growing an economy that works for all Americans,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Fab Labs encourage creative thinking and will inspire new inventions – the possibilities for our country and the impact they can have on our economy are endless. I urge Congress to take up this bipartisan, common-sense legislation to keep America moving forward.”
“Innovations in the energy, manufacturing, and technology fields drive our economy and improve our standard of living. The STEM fields aim to solve some of the hardest challenges known to us - and the discoveries and inventions derived from these fields will make the students of today the future of tomorrow’s innovation,” said Senator Murkowski. “Fab Labs will ensure our best and brightest young minds will have endless possibilities for tinkering and creating at their fingertips, spurring innovation and ingenuity for generations to come.”
Maryland is currently home to three Fab Labs: Fab Lab Baltimore in Baltimore City, the Community College of Baltimore County Fab Lab in Cantonsville, and Bullis BITlab in Potomac. Alaska is home to CITC Fab Lab in Anchorage. Currently, there are about 150 Fab Labs in the United States.
The National Fab Lab Network Act would create a nonprofit charter similar to those started for groups like Little League Baseball. The goal of the Network would be to establish at least one Fab Lab for every 700,000 people, or roughly one lab in every Congressional district. A copy of the legislation can be found here.