What is FabLab?
FabLab is a workshop full of useful things like 3D printers, Laser cutters, milling machines, lathes, welding & fabrication equipment and lots of other things used to support prototype development for iPSS companies.
What type of machines does FabLab have?
FabLab space is split into 2 halves, on one side we have the digital equipment; we have Additive Layer Manufacturing machines using Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technologies for ABS and PLA materials, an Objet 30- Poly Jetting printer for resin parts which have high levels of detail, and also we have a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer for high strength parts. In addition to 3D printing, we have some Subtractive manufacturing capability, such as high precision micro milling on the Roland SRM20, we use a MaxiCam CNC router for large panel type components and profiling polymers and woods, and an Epilog laser cutter for thin sheet profiling and engraving. On the other side of the room, the metal working side, we have an Aximinster 3 axis CNC milling machine and an Axminster CNC lathe for precision engineered metal components. Of course in addition to the larger kit, we have a comprehensive range of traditional fabrication tools, welding equipment and hand tools to form almost anything which might be required by a company. The two sides complement each other really well, and mostly we make parts from both in order to complete a working prototype.
What kind of project challenges does the FabLab team meet whilist working with projects past and present?
We are often required to produce things which push the limits of the machines we have, so quite often we have to think of new ways of tackling a problem or perhaps we have to invest in new tools to complete a job. On occasion we even manufacture the tools required rather than buying off the shelf products.
What is your background and expertise?
I am a Product designer with nearly 20 years’ experience of New Product Development. I have a first class honours degree in Product Design and an MSc. in Advanced Technology Management, also an MBA from Wolverhampton Business School. I have experience of the Automotive and Aerospace sectors particularly with forgings, and I worked in the consumer goods industry; designing cookers, solid fuel stoves and cookware for a few years before joining the University.
Can you say more about the machine’s capabilities?
The machines are entry level in most cases, so trying to produce larger batches or complex components is sometimes difficult. However this said, the idea of the FabLab is to get to a proof-of –concept level prototype stage, where it is representative of the product’s function and form (it proves it will work), but is not the finished article.
What kind of projects can the FabLab boast off?
Confidentiality is a big part of IPSS project work, but without being too specific, the FabLab has produced parts and products for industrial products, the farming industry, aerospace light weighted parts, medical products (Eye Occluder), dentistry training, consumer products (yo-yos and children’s tables amongst others), catering and food sector products, transport products, musical instruments, marine products, and new tools for the flooring trade. Almost every sector and industry has been catered for.
Senior Design Consultant (MBA, MSc, BSc)
Faculty of Science and Engineering
University of Wolverhampton Science Park