FabLab Exploration & Laser Cutting Project

Tour & Inspiring Projects

This week our class met in the FabLab for a change of scenery and activities. I was excited to learn more about the FabLab as I’d been there before, however had only made stickers and never ventured into other mediums. To start out, Jeff Ginger (a previous class speaker and the director of the FabLab) gave us a tour explaining the various machines and resources they have and some of the things that have been created in each space. There were many neat creations from a Whack-a-mole game created in the electronics shop to a backpack that had eyebrows that flashed like turn signals if you pressed a small button on the straps that was made through incorporating small electronic components into an embroidered project. Before touring the FabLab, I had never considered the crossover between embroidery and sewing (what I think to be more traditional arts) and electronics or conductive thread.


I was also fascinated by all the different materials and projects that had been engraved. They have a special laser attachment that does curved surfaces therefore they had several engraved glasses on display. It’s amazing how many “do-it-yourself” projects are made possible and much simpler with the resources of the FabLab. If you were to custom order engraved glasses, it would probably be at least 5 times the cost of the fee you pay at the FabLab to use their equipment. I really enjoy places like the FabLab because it can cater to so many makers’ needs and with so many different machines, the possibilities feel endless. I felt instantly inspired walking around and looking at the previous creations displayed on bulletin boards, shelves and all over the lab.


Our Project:
This week, the class was split in half, some to work with embroidery and conductive thread, the other half to use the laser cutters and design program to design and make a wooden box. I was in the latter of the groups and so I got design and customize a template that would be inserted into the laser cutter on a piece of plywood and transformed into a shadow box. We did not have time to create each person’s box but I enjoyed watching the laser cutter work through the wood and create designs on the wood. We also got to learn how to manipulate an image and create a template to be laser cut with a program called Inkscape similar to Adobe Illustrator. The most challenging part of this mini project for me, was figuring out which pieces would fit together and then which sides to adjust so that when it is cut that it would create a box. At first, I thought there would be a simple template that we’d modify slightly and then be able to laser cut however I learned that it took much more time and attention to detail than I was expecting. I ended up starting over about halfway through as that was the easier path to take then trying to undo all of my work. It was quite a fun class though, after perfecting the puzzle-piece box sections we found images that we would want on our box to customize it. I spent a while deciding exactly how I wanted my box to look but found some neat images to display. I look forward to picking up my box this week and seeing how it turned out!

3 thoughts on “FabLab Exploration & Laser Cutting Project”

  1. Hi Helen,

    Thanks for sharing such a detailed description of your experience last week! It’s helpful to read about some of the challenges you faced during the workshop–hopefully, I avoid certain pitfalls when I make my own design this week.


  2. Helen,

    Thanks for your post! I was curious as to what the other half of class was doing while we were working on embroidery. Making these custom-fit boxes seems a lot harder than it appears. I’m definitely going to be a lot more precise on the first time, and try and learn from your experience.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how our 2 parts of the project will come together next week!


  3. Hi Helen,

    I love how you have included so many photos of the fab lab itself, as well as the project you created! I thought it was so interesting that they had a whole section of biohacking, as that’s something that I had not even thought of as part of the digital making world until Dot came to talk to us.

    Your box looks great- I was in the embroidery part of the class so I am really excited to get to learn how to make the box next week.

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