Fabrication as a Service (FaaS) is a new concept developed within the framework of the NEWTON Horizon 2020 project. It is aimed at empowering digital fabrication laboratories (Fab Labs) by providing hardware and software wrappers to expose numerically-controlled expensive fabrication equipment as web services. More specifically, FaaS leverages cloud and IoT technologies to enable a wide learning community to have remote access to these labs’ computer-controlled tools and equipment over the Internet. In such context, the fabrication machines can be seen as networked resources distributed over a wide geographical area. These resources can communicate through machine-to-machine protocols and a centralized cloud infrastructure and can be digitally monitored and controlled through programmatic interfaces relying on REST APIs. This paper introduces FaaS in the context of Fab Lab challenges and describes FaaS deployment within NEWTON Fab Labs, part of the NEWTON European Horizon 2020 project on technology enhanced learning. The NEWTON Fab Labs architecture is described in detail targeting software, hardware and network architecture. The system has been extensively load-tested simulating real use-case scenarios and it is presently in production. In particular, this paper shows how the measured data has been used to build a simulation model to estimate system performance and identify possible bottlenecks. The measurements performed show that the platform delays exhibit a tail distribution with Pareto-like behaviour; this finding has been used to build a simple mathematical model and a simulator on top of CloudSim to estimate the latencies of the critical paths of the NEWTON Fab Lab platform under several load conditions.
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