The Fabbers Archive

Archive || Highlights || Docs || 1. Artifacts || 2. Industry || 3. Ennex || 4. Demo || 5. Offset || 6. Digital: E, F, W, Z || 7. MB || 8. KB

Ennex Research Corporation is pleased to have found a home for its archive of historic relics of digital fabrication in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Pennsylvania State University.

Throughout the 1990s, Ennex assembled an extensive collection of resources and artifacts from those early days of digital fabrication, which is now most widely known as “3D printing.” The collection includes an assortment of 90 objects made on a wide variety of fabricators of that era, a library of books, conference proceedings, periodicals, and other documents amounting to over 23,000 pages, as well as dozens of video and audio tapes, over 500 photographic slides, and thousands of digital files. While this technology was once known as “rapid prototyping,” Ennex was famous for rejecting that terminology with a vision of much broader applications, and called the machines “fabricators,” or “fabbers” for short.

The archive was acquired from Ennex Corporation in January 2018, and Penn State completed work on the public finding aid for it in April 2020. (In 2018, Ennex underwent a corporate reorganization, in which the name of Ennex Corporation changed to Ennex Research Corporation.)

Online Materials about the Archive

  • Ennex 3D Printing Archive Acquired by Penn State: News release announcing the availability of the archive at Pennsylvania State University, May 2020.
  • Introduction to the Fabbers Archive: Excerpt from offering catalog by Arthur Fournier, explaining how Marshall Burns came to get involved in “fabbers,” build a business around them, and collect the materials of the archive.
  • Fabbing the Future: Burns’ first-hand account of starting and running the fabber business, and then, years later, digging relics of it out of storage for the archive.
  • Highlights of the Archive: An illustrated guide to a selection of more than a hundred examples of some of the most interesting items in the archive.
  • 1995 interview of Marshall Burns by American Institute of Physics. (Vimeo, 3:30 m:s)
    Sample videos from the archive:
    • Ennex Fabrication. Excerpt of interview of Marshall Burns about the excitement of digital fabrication and the challenges and rewards of running a small technology business. From 1998 television program, Today’s Physicists, produced by American Institute of Physics from interview conducted at Ennex offices in September 1995. (Length: 3:30 m:s)
    • Atoms from Bits. Promotional video featuring excerpts of talks by Marshall Burns about digital fabrication, with explanations and predictions about the technology. Video produced by Randy Bellous in 2000 from a series of talks given in about 1998. (Length: 9 min.)
  • Guide to Ennex Corporation records, 1991-2005: The official finding aid for the archive at Pennsylvania State University. Use the inventory form there to make arrangements to visit the archive in person, or click on Contact Special Collections to request information.
  • Offering Catalog: Official catalog prepared by rarities dealer Arthur Fournier in 2017 to offer the archive to selected institutions for acquisition.
  • Acknowledgments: Ennex thanks many of the most important people who contributed to our work throughout the 1990s.

Archive Contents

Fabbers Archive

The Fabbers Archive was originally organized by Ennex into eight sections, as laid out below. Penn State has reorganized it in a fashion more suitable for historical archiving. Interested parties can investigate further using Penn State’s finding aid. The guide below describes the general contents of the archive in Ennex’s original organization scheme. In this listing, orange text indicates potential future links to an illustrated inventory of the archive that may be implemented online in the future.

 Highlights of the Archive: An illustrated discussion of some of the most interesting items of the Archive, as selected by Ennex founder, Marshall Burns.
 Archive Documentation: A users’ manual, inventory spreadsheet, and acknowledgments to help curators and users understand the scope of the Archive materials, how they are organized, and where they come from.
Fabbers Archive: Section 1. Fabricated Artifacts1. Fabricated Artifacts: An assortment of 90 objects made on a wide variety of fabricators of the 1990s and early 2000s. Highlights include a human skull and two gear trees.
Fabbers Archive: Section 2. Industry Library2. Industry Library: Books, conference proceedings, periodicals, and other documents, amounting to over 23,000 pages, as well as dozens of industry videos and over 500 photographic slides.
Fabbers Archive: Section 3. Ennex Library3. Ennex Library: Business plans, speaking videos, brochures, patents, and a proposal to Mattel.
Fabbers Archive: Section 4. Demo Props4. Demo Props: A whimsical set of objects used to demonstrate and explain the three fundamental methods for giving products shape: subtractive, additive, and formative fabrication.
Fabbers Archive: Section 5. Offset Experiments5. Offset Experiments: Results of experiments in the development of Offset Fabrication, together with left-over stock of experimental adhesive sheet materials.
Fabbers Archive: Section 6. Digital Files6. Digital Files: More than 12,000 digital files archived from Ennex computers from 1990 to 2005, including business and financial records, engineering designs, photographs, correspondence, and websites.
Fabbers Archive: Section 7. Burns Personal Papers7. Burns Personal Papers: Close to a thousand documents from the personal papers of Ennex founder Marshall Burns, including letters, e-mails, handwritten notes, journal entries, activity calendars, photographs, and financial records.
Fabbers Archive: Section 8. Ennex Knowledge Base8. Ennex Knowledge Base: The private database maintained by Ennex during its fabricator business, together with electronic records of over 6,000 events excerpted from the database, including meetings, correspondence, publications, research results, and other information, many connected with cross-referencing links.

Copyright © 2016..20, Ennex Research Corporation. All rights reserved.
Archive || Highlights || Docs || 1. Artifacts || 2. Industry || 3. Ennex || 4. Demo || 5. Offset || 6. Digital: E, F, W, Z || 7. MB || 8. KB