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Several months ago Mike Buckbee told The Name Inspector about his startup named Fabjectory. It will take a 3D digital representation of your Nintendo Mii or SecondLife avatar, or a 3D model you create yourself with SketchUp, and turn it into an actual physical object.

Making the virtual real seems to be a new trend. Have you heard about the promotional stunt for the upcoming Simpsons movie? Twelve 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. have been transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, and carry real versions of the products sold by the fictitious convenience store in the animated series. You can buy a six-pack of Buzz Cola, a box of Frosted KrustyO’s cereal, or a Radioactive Man comic book.

But back to Fabjectory. This is one of the more linguistically complicated names that The Name Inspector has come across (it rivals Bare Escentuals, but is more interesting and less groanworthy). It’s not only a blend name–it’s a double blend! As Mike explains on his blog, It’s made out of the words fabject and factory. But of course, you may not have known that fabject was a word. That’s because it was only coined a few years ago by science fiction author and technology observer Bruce Sterling.

Fabject is a blend of fabricated and object, and refers to a new type of thing created by relatively inexpensive “3D printing” or “rapid prototyping” machines. These things can take a 3D digital model and squirt together thin layers of plastic goop or powder that hardens to make solid objects.

While commercial fabbers, as they’re called, still cost tens of thousands, they’re bound to come down in price, and there’s a community of fab fans who use and promote inexpensive fabbers made from open source kits. Sterling, always a visionary, has given us a new word for something that may become as commonplace as printed documents.

So the whole structure of the name Fabjectory is something like this (the underlined letters show where the pieces overlap):

[ [ Fabricated + object ] + factory ] = Fabjectory

Whew! An additional dimension comes into play when you realize that -jectory evokes the word trajectory, suggesting forceful forward motion and, metaphorically, the future. There’s also the coincidence of fabject starting with the same letter as factory, so that it also seems like the word factory has just been stretched out a bit.

One downside of the name is the fact that, orthographically, it includes the word abject (as in abject poverty), which means something like ‘low, degraded’. Since abject is stressed on the first syllable, though, and the name Fabjectory has its primary emphasis on the -jec- part, this association is pretty weak.

This is not the most elegant name in the world, but it works surprisingly well considering its complexity. Somehow the jointed quality of the name fits the idea of making, fabricating, manufacturing. Given the ever-increasing difficulty of finding available TLD domain names, this kind of multi-layered name might be the future of naming.

[tags]fabjectory, the name fabjectory, fabber, fabbers, fabbing, fab, rapid prototyping, 3D printing, 3D printers, bruce sterling[/tags]

6 Responses to “Fabjectory”

  1. on 19 Jul 2007 at 6:32 am Dick Kusleika

    I know this will make me sound like Jeff Albertson, but I think it’s Radioactive Man.

  2. on 19 Jul 2007 at 6:45 am The Name Inspector

    Dick, of course you’re right! How embarrassing. I’ve changed it.

  3. on 24 Jul 2007 at 1:51 pm Molly

    What about “fab” as short for “fabulous”? Perhaps an unintended appeal to all those AbFab fans out there?

  4. on 25 Jul 2007 at 5:42 am cutflank

    I’m afraid “abject” leapt out at me immediately.

  5. on 25 Jul 2007 at 9:51 am Christefano

    The fabrication world has had some difficulties coming up with appropriate terms for this new sector of the DIY movement. Basically, you need to be in the industry already — or be a subscriber to Wired — to know what these terms mean. Not many people know what “digifab” means, or even what personal fabrication is.

    We worked with Neil Gershenfeld, the professor at MIT who coined the term “FabLab” and developed the Fab Central community site. It started when we built Fabracadabra!, a prototype that acts as an idea incubator and marketplace for inventions. Fabracadabra! is still one of my favorite brand names.

    At MIT, by the way, we use the term “fabber” to describe the inventors
    themselves, not the machines.

  6. on 07 Nov 2007 at 12:08 pm dan

    It is clear you weren’t around in the ’60′s, when ‘fab’ was commonly used as short for fabulous. ‘Fab gear’ meant ‘wonderful clothes’. On this basis, Fabjectory clearly suggests ‘fabulous trajectory’, conveying the idea of a movement into the realm of the imagination.

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