I was browsing around the interweebs, and found the MIT fablabs proejct. http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/fab/inv.html. The idea is a catalog of machine tools needed to build pretty much any mechanical device. Mills, lathes, that sort of thing. And you know what — the fab lab costs 88k, excluding tax and shipping!
There must be a cheaper way to accomplish all this. And by cheaper — I mean 2 orders of magnitude. A sub 1K fab lab. Portable, too. The heart of the FabLab are two tools — a CNC mill and a laser cutter.
Mills — I see viable options here for a sub 1k mill. The ShapeOko, LumenLabs micRo, DIYCNC, and others. I think the mill and the 3d printer likely will merge at some point in the future. Either that, or diverge greatly. A fork is coming. If they merge, then so far, so good. Sub 1k fab lab is possible.
A laser cutter — this is impossible to hit under 1k, I think. 3k is possible. But I’d drop the laser cutter from the fab-lab. What can a laser do, that a CNC mill can’t?
I’d add a lathe — or add lathe abilities to the mill. So, what makes a good fab-lab? Hmmm…
See you all later!