Tag Archives: Congress

National Fab Lab Network Act Promotes 3D Printing and Manufacturing


Originally conceived by Neil Gershenfeld at MIT, a Fab Lab is a self-contained lab that has about $20,000 in equipment – a laser cutter, milling machine, programming tools, and of course, 3D printing. We regularly feature Fab Labs across the globe that are empowering people to make almost anything that suits their personal needs.

This month, Congressman Bill Foster introduced the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2013, which is intended to promote advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. This is a great step forward in making amazing technologies like 3D printing more readily available.

The bill lists the following motivations for the introduction of the Fab Lab Network:

(1) Scientific discoveries and technical innovations are critical to the economic and national security of the United States.

(2) Maintaining the leadership of the United States in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will require a diverse population with the skills, interest, and access to tools required to advance these fields.

(3) Just as earlier digital revolutions in communications and computation provided individuals with the Internet and personal computers, a digital revolution in fabrication will allow anyone to make almost anything, anywhere.

(4) The Center for Bits and Atoms of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (CBA) has contributed significantly to the advancement of these goals through its work in creating and advancing digital fab labs in the United States and abroad.

(5) CBA’s fab labs provide a model for a new kind of national laboratory that links local facilities for advanced manufacturing to expand access and empower communities.

(6) A coordinated national public-private partnership will be the most effective way to accelerate the provision of this infrastructure for learning skills, developing inventions, creating businesses, and producing personalized products.

This bill would provide a Federal charter to the Fab Foundation for the National Fab Lab Network, a national network of local digital fabrication facilities providing community access to advanced manufacturing tools for learning skills, developing inventions, creating businesses, and producing personalized products.

You can track the bill at govtrack or download the bill in PDF.

Below is a video of Congressman Foster introducing the bill.

More on this announcement below:

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) introduced the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2013 to promote advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. The bill is being introduced with bipartisan support from 15 original co-sponsors including Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Rep. Tom Massie (KY- 4), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) and others.

Fab Labs are state-of-the-art fabrication laboratories available to the public throughout the country where children and adults can invent, design and manufacture products. The equipment can be used to design anything from tools to motors to data networks to artwork.

The first Fab Lab began as a project of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, and has expanded to more than 100 locations throughout the world. Read more about the project here.

“We have a great tradition of innovation in manufacturing in America. With a national network of Fab Labs we can empower and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Foster. “These labs help students build the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy.”

The proposed legislation would create a nonprofit entity to establish a National Fab Lab network throughout the United States. This chartered status would be similar to the status enjoyed by the VFW and Little League Baseball.

The goal of the network will be to establish at least one Fab Lab for every 700,000 people, giving students throughout the country access to the tools and skills needed to bring their ideas to life. The legislation does not provide funding to the network, but seeks to provide the project with the recognition needed to grow and establish new centers throughout the country.

“As a manufacturer, businessman and a scientist I believe it’s critical that we provide the next generation with the skills to succeed in engineering and manufacturing and build the next generation of products, businesses and industries,” added Foster.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation include: Rep. Randy Hultgren [IL-14], Rep. Tom Massie [KY- 4], Rep. Chris Van Hollen [MD-08], Rep. Michael Capuano [MA-07], Rep. John Carney [DE], Rep. David Cicilline [RI-01], Rep. Gerald E. Connolly [VA-11], Rep. Danny K. Davis [IL-07], Rep. Dave Loebsack [IA-02], Rep. Betty McCollum [MN-04], Rep. Gary Peters [MI-14], Rep. Mark Pocan [WI-02], Rep. Bobby Rush [IL-01], Rep. Jan Schakowsky [IL-09], Rep. Carole Shea-Porter [NH-01].

President Obama Calls 3D Printing “Revolutionary” in State of the Union

President Obama 3D Printing State of the Union

This post is courtesy of Internet of things blog Hack Things.

A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.
– Barack Obama

In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called 3D Printing a technology that has “the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything”, adding that he has asked Congress to create a network of fifteen manufacturing hubs where business in the United States can receive support in using these technologies, in conjunction with the Departments of Defence and Energy.

He also mentioned NAMII (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) which was launched as a pilot for this program in Youngstown Ohio last year.

National Gun Control Debate Threatens 3D Printing With Regulation

Cody Wilson Wiki Weapon 3D Printing

As the country recovers from the recent mass school shooting in Newtown, CT, and at the same time engages in a national debate around gun control, an unlikely topic is coming under fire: 3D printing.

Basically, there are some fringe gun activists who are exploiting the national attention to gun rights to get some publicity for their new ideas. One of these, Defense Distributed has been publishing their plans for a “Wiki Weapon.”

Those who read on3dprinting.com know the potentially massive positive contributions that 3D printing can make for our global society. Unfortunately, however, some legislators are now discussing regulations on 3D printing because they are afraid people will print high-capacity gun clips.

Steve Israel 3D Printing Guns

In the release below, Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) writes about his intentions to regulate 3D printing.

Rep. Israel to Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Homemade 3-D Printed Magazines Along with Plastic Guns

As Debate Stirs Around High-Capacity Gun Clips, Homemade Gun Enthusiasts Show Clip Can be Made At Home with 3-D Printer

Woodbury, NY—Today, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) called for a renewal of a revamped Undetectable Firearms Act that includes the ban of homemade, 3-D printed, plastic high-capacity magazines. The existing ban on plastic guns expires this year and does not clearly cover magazines. This past weekend, Defense Distributed, a group of homemade gun enthusiasts used a 3-D printer to print and test an ammunition magazine for an AR semi-automatic rifle, loading and reportedly firing 86 rounds from the 30-round clip. A video of them firing the weapon can be seen here.

Rep. Israel said, “Background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print high-capacity magazines at home. 3-D printing is a new technology that shows great promise, but also requires new guidelines. Law enforcement officials should have the power to stop keep homemade high-capacity magazines from proliferating with a Google search.”

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, “With every advancement in technology, there will be those who attempt to exploit it for unintended purposes. And in those situations, it is incumbent upon our elected officials and law enforcement agencies to take necessary action to protect the public. This common sense legislation closes a dangerous loophole in the law, and I strongly support Congressman Israel’s efforts in seeing these dangerous magazines banned.”

3-D printers work by printing layer upon layer of a material, usually thermoplastic, on top of each other in order to form a 3-D object. The revamped Undetectable Firearms Act that Rep. Israel wrote makes it illegal to manufacture, own, transport, buy, or sell any firearm or magazine that is homemade and not detectable by metal detector and/or does not present an accurate image when put through an x-ray machine. The reauthorization would extend the life of the bill for another 10 years from the date of enactment.


Steve Israel photo by Third Way used under Creative Commons license.