Using the FabLab

How to Use the FabLab

Any Laney student, faculty, or staff member may visit and/or use the lab. All users are required to sign-in and sign-out at the kiosk computer by the staff desk, each day. Users are also expected to follow the User Guidelines.

How to make something in the FabLab:

  1. Come in with an idea.

    Bring in whatever you have, a 3D model, a sketch on a piece of paper, a vague idea in your head, or no idea at all, we have plenty of ideas for you.

  2. Determine your fabrication plan.

    The FabLab staff will help determine what materials and machines will work out best for your project. They will help you design your plan to use whatever resources and skills you have.

  3. Make your software model.

    Every project in the FabLab starts off as a digital model. Some projects require a full 3D computer model made with CAD software, others only need a simpler 2D computer drawing. All the software you need is available for use in the FabLab. The FabLab staff can’t teach this software, but they can point you to classes you can take or online tutorials you can do on your own.

  4. Make your toolpath files.

    All the machines in the FabLab read their instructions from a computer file, a toolpath file. Some toolpath files are very easy to make, such as for 3D printers or laser cutters. Milling machines involve more complicated toolpaths and require CAM software to make the files. Like modeling software, the FabLab staff can’t teach CAM software either.

  5. Run your toolpaths.

    Once you have your toolpath file, you are ready to use the machine. You must take the Laney FabLab workshop before you can operate a machine, even if you already know how. When you are ready, the FabLab staff will create a machine reservation for you.

  6. Process your parts and finish your project.

    The machines in the FabLab do a lot of work, but most projects require some manual processing. A wide array of manual fabrication tools are available in the FabLab, and staff will show you how to use them.

  7. Document your project.

    Every user of the FabLab is required to submit a photo of their project. Some projects will require more documentation about how they were done. The FabLab is a community of users and this documentation spreads knowledge and inspiration around. While planning your project, the staff will determine how much documentation will be required.