FabLab, a digital arts design studio, just steps away from campus, has a mission to “easy and open access to cutting-edge design and prototyping equipment, and to bring educational opportunities and a supportive community for students, inventors, artists, and DIY enthusiasts.”
In this studio, exploration and creativity is key; builders can create a surprising variety of projects. They have projects ranging from a skateboard with an engraved custom tribal design in the grip tape of the deck, to two small robotic cars that use a sonar sensor to drive themselves forward without crashing— built from scratch by elementary school students. They also have a robot named GuitarDUINO that greets customers and automatically plays the tune from “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles on his Maestro guitar.
Information Technology professor Don McLane uses FabLab as a classroom for his TCES 279 Modern Fabrication class. His students learn how to do things such as design glass, use the 3D printer, and make wooden sculptures. This is a five credit class that meets once a week every Friday. Employees Peter Yoakum and Chris Leneweaver encourage student involvement and say they are willing to help assemble nearly any and all personal digital art projects.
3D printing is one of FabLab’s best features. A 3D printer can make copies of any inanimate object that is less than or equal to the size of a volleyball. 3D printers are also used in space stations so that astronauts can simply print out their tools rather than needing another spacecraft to deliver the tools to them. 3D printers make great props for art projects, plays, or presentations. FabLab also designs furniture such as tables and chairs, with no tools or hardware necessary. They even created the Fab Lorean, FabLab’s version of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
Student clubs might be interested in creating custom signs for their events. Signs can be crafted out of wood or aluminum. The engraving abilities of these machines can produce a beautiful, well-made finish.
A wide variety of ideas are embraced at FabLab with the tools and technology available. The staff is always prepared to help anybody meet their goals. Emily Saito, FabLab employee, says “my favorite part of the shop is the woodworking. It is the base of a lot of our projects here.”
As if to emphasize her point, a man-sized wooden dinosaur holds an umbrella with a special digital display inside the shop. The FabLab producers gave the umbrella the appearance that it is being rained on by programming white LED lights underneath the umbrella with a random blinking pattern. Staff can show users how to program their own LED lights for their house or car, and even connect them to their smartphone.
Contact FabLab at 253-426-1267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.