Fab Lab Diaries – Week 1

So this week has been pretty crazy in my personal life let alone getting a fab lab up and running! I have dealt with the suicide of a friend, my grandma going to the hospital, other family drama, and then getting things ready for the open house that was on Thursday was just draining. I needed Thursday though. I needed to see the people and the kids be inspired by what we’re doing. It has been so hard losing my friend Ryan Kowalko but education was important to him. It took him 9 years to get his bachelor’s in Information Systems at GVSU but he did it. In his honor I set up an education fund for his daughter Emma (2 years old), if you can donate and feel obliged to.  I just want her to know how much her friends and family cared about her and her dad. I don’t want her to go through the same struggle he did…. Anyways… enough sadness.


This week at the fab lab we’ve been busy filling the empty space with equipment. I was able to get 6 of the lower-end 3D printers up and going and then had to figure out something to print for an open house handout. I came upon a “Flex-i-rex” on Thingiverse and was able to print 12 at a time on the print beds. I ended up with like 400 of these things for the event. The people that grabbed one, LOVED it. It moves a little and people couldn’t believe it was 3D printed!

We have the Richard and Ann Kraft digital fabrication lab starting to come together. This will be the more professional grade 3D printers and CAD stations.  The computers will all have SolidWorks and have the capability to run other 3D software as well. The printers that are in this room are:

  • 1x Stratasys Fortus 450
  • 2x Stratasys Uprint SE 3D
  • 1x Stratasys Dimension Elite
Left to Right: 2x Uprints, 1x Dimension Elite, 1x Fortus

I can’t wait to get these bad boys up and running…. especially that Fortus! That thing is a beauty at $225k… it better be! I kept watching videos on YouTube of that machine to know what I’m in for. In order to get that up and running we have to verify an installation checklist and then they will send someone out to get it up and running. I may have to go to Stratasys training HQ in Minnesota as well… in the middle of winter. Woo.

I also started to play with the 3D scanner and had a cool demo set up for the open house.  I’ve used scanners before but none like this one. The Artec scanner is able to map textures onto the 3D model. We could use this scanner to scan a child’s arm to help develop a custom prosthetic for them. The possibilities are endless and who knows what someone will come to the lab with that they have use for the 3D scanner.

Tuesday the laser engraver/etcher will be installed and I will be trained on it with our lead community volunteer Forbes Gilcrest. He has a lot of experience with lasers in industry and has volunteered to help the fab lab. I will be working with him to communicate with people in the community that have interest in being a part of the fab lab, as volunteers, teachers, users or a combination of all 3. He will also sort of a be a number 2 on the equipment so I have to get up to speed and then get him up to speed.

The open house on Thursday was a huge success! I don’t think they anticipated that many people from the community coming! The building was full of the people who donated money to the college (some of their names are on the buildings/rooms) and even more of the general public! There was standing room only for the entire night! They were supposed to have guided tours but the speakers went on too long so people ended up wandering on their own. Eventually when a tour guide showed up I was like “haven’t I already been giving people tours!?” I loved how much interest there was around what we’re doing there. I can’t wait to be up and running.

Video of the donor wall unveiling.

I keep hearing people say “we’re glad they went with you, you’re the person for the job.” I hope I don’t fall flat on my face!

Goals for next week:

  1. Start to use the epilog laser
  2. Website and social media pages
  3. Learn the 3D scanning software
  4. Start to assemble the Roland vinyl machine
  5. Don’t burn down fab lab

Random fab lab pics from the week:

If you’d like to be apart of the fab lab as a member, technical expert, teacher, a general volunteer or just to stay in the loop.

Send me an email: christopher.kaminsky@muskegoncc.edu