Saying Goodbye to the FabLab… for now


This week marked our last class session in the Fablab. Although I won’t be returning in class, I do plan on coming back for advice on my final project. I have been impressed by our instructors over the past 3 weeks. They demonstrated knowledge and experience with different machines and techniques. I was surprised to learn that one instructor, Clinton, was still an undergrad. I’m not sure why, but I assumed that lab staff were either graduate or doctorate students. I applaud people like Clinton for being involved and inspiring others using his passion for digital making.

The third and final mini-project in the FabLab involved sewing LED lights onto the embroidery I made last week. Before sewing, we listened to a brief lecture on series and parallel circuits. I roughly sketched my cloth and a parallel circuit with wiring to help model my design. A parallel circuit connects the positive ends of the two LED lights to the positive end of the battery. The same is true for the respective negative ends. The wiring must be carefully mapped because the electric current breaks when positive and negative wires cross over one another. This may sound simple, but my extended break from physics classes ran me into difficulties.

The sewing materials included a needle, conductive thread made out of steel, two small LED lights, a lithium battery, and the switch. I placed one light at the top of the lighthouse, and the other illuminated the moon. I didn’t want the LED lights to be visible on the white lighthouse and moon, so I placed them under the cloth. Unfortunately, the small lights had trouble shining through the cloth. I will have to alter my design if I want people to notice the lights.

I thought the conductive thread was pretty neat. I never heard of or realized a use for conductive thread before. I also learned that beeswax can help flatten loose ends of thread through the eye of the needle. The biggest challenge was for me was actually sewing. I connected the positive and negative ends, but random bits of thread ruined the aesthetic. Choosing a darker cloth should easily fix that problem.

Reflecting over the past 3 weeks, I have a better understanding of product design. I think this is partially due to the creative freedom we were given, which we have learned is increasingly rare for students. Even though I have made mistakes, I walked away with lessons I can apply to future designs. Mistakes can be just as important as successes from a learning perspective.

Hope you all have a great spring break!

2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to the FabLab… for now”

  1. Hey Michael,

    I agree with you that these past few weeks in class have been extremely making focused. I’ve really enjoyed thinking creatively and engaging in hands-on work. This is the first ISIT class that I have taken that has provided unique opportunities such as working in the FabLab. Similar to what you wrote about in your post, I found the idea of conductive thread to be mind blowing. The ability to connect lights to a battery via thread was really cool to work with. I’m excited to see how everyone takes what we’ve learned and incorporates it into our final projects!

  2. Hey Michael-

    I agree that over these last couple weeks we really learned how to be creative and the detail that goes into designing. I also agree that our usual business classes don’t allow us to explore our own creativity and this class allows us to do that….something that is very rare! Thanks for sharing and looking forward to seeing your final project come to life!

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