Introduction: How to Make a Fab Lab With Only $4.10
Almost a year ago, I had an idea for project RE_ which was going to need a lot of 3D printing. Unfortunatly, I didn't have access to a 3D printer. I'm in a design school and we don't even have access to a 3D printer!? We have one, yes, but it is locked in a basement and can only be used my master students (who don't even care about it)
I started looking for Fab labs and Makerspaces around Montreal, but none was really functional.
SO : Here is how, I created a scholar Fablab in only a few months.
Step 1: 1- Get Sponsored
A lot of companies give sponsorship. All sort of sponsorships. Even Instructables!
This was my first step. When Randofo told me about the Instrutables Sponsorship, I was amazed by the opportunity. All they asked for was 10 step by step Instructables created by a group of individuals and published into an guide on Instructables to get a chance to get one of these :
-a CNC rooter
-A 3D printer ;)
-An industrial sewing machine
-An electronics package
-An A/V package
(we didn't have any of these at school)
We are 65 students in my class at UdeM, it was going to be very easy to get 10 Instructables out of them.
Well... it wasn't.
After sending a lot of motivation e-mails to the class, I finally started to receive some post from collegues.
They were all good enough to be featured on the FRONT PAGE of Instructables, which started to motivate the crowed to follow the movement.
My favourites :
Somehow, we finally got the sponsorship : an UP! PP3DP called Clementine.
(the truth is... I didn't tell the class about the CNC and sewing machine)
Step 2: Get Even More Sponsors
The fact was that, one 3D printer wasn't enough for 65 students.
I then contacted UP! USA, the manufacturer of the great machie we were using, and showed them our projects.
I told them that we needed an other UP! to realise more of them. At least, until the final year exhibition were everybody has to make prototypes of their designs. I gave them visibility, promised for more and they sent us Pomme-P, the red PP3DP, for a period of 3 months. Just enough for our graduation.
Both 3D printers have been printing non-stop since then at a rate of 2kg /month (each)
15 final project were made using the Lab... wow
Step 3: Find a Place
To find a local for your Fab lab could be the most difficult part. I had to sacrifice my desk. Both machines are located on my big working table so I can keep an eye on the prints. Their is a little plastic smell once in a while.
Since it is my desk, I called the corner the SAM Lab for Society of Amazing Makers... and because my name is Sam.
Step 4: Know One Thing
One thing people have to realise is that, a school IS a Fab Lab. Every school has equipment waiting to be used, so use it. If the students show interest in one thing, the school will put money into this thing. This year, the school decided to invest a lot of money on 2 lazer cutters, a CNC and much more workshop equipment!
Step 5: Good Photos
The point with Hackerspaces and Fablabs is to share with people and one thing often neglected is the documentation of the process and the quality of the pictures taken.
One more thing we didn't have in my design school was a proper photo setup.
I got some long rolls of white paper from the Fine Arts Museum warehouse clean up. (great cheap stuff there)
Enough seemless background for the next 2 years.
I then looked for a sposorship to get umbrellas and spots. We had collected quite a lot of money for our school show, so we got the class to vote on a budget. 100% of the people voted in favor of buying the photo setup.
I got 4 spots for less than 300$.
I convinced the school's director to give us the workshop's corner to install it... and we got it.
Step 6: Rule the Place
Once set, a Fab lab has to be managed.
I made a simple rule :
1 instructables post = a right to use the Lab
Nobody was aloud to even touch the printer without being an Instructables member.
It went extremely well. People pay for the material together, righting down the weight they are using (and nobody has been cheating yet.)
You might be wondering what is the $4.10 then.
Well it is only the cost of the blue painter tape I had to buy for the printer's table and didn't dare asking for contribution.
to see more about 3D printing, watch my other instructables: